Duke perennially brings in top-end freshman talent that draws in NBA Draft junkies and the casual hoops fan, but this season's young crop is especially loaded. The Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 15 prospects in the 2018 247Sports Composite all signed on to play for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski – among them potential No. 1 pick R.J. Barrett and his super-dunking teammate, Zion Williamson – elevating them into nightly must-watch status.
Adding to the already-high level of curiosity surrounding the program is that it's all orchestrated by a coach widely considered to be one of the greatest to ever do it at the collegiate level in Coach K.
ESPN paid a visit to Duke and its loaded roster this preseason ahead of what figures to be a promising season in Durham, North Carolina to film an all-access series called "Earn Everything," and Coach K's antics are as funny as they are revealing. He's as much teacher as coach, and his message – at least one he shared in a segment on ESPN – was a simple one: Be as tough as your mother.
Here's a transcription of one of the sequences in the video.
Coach K: "What's one of the things that gets you out of it?"
Coach K: "Tired. Tired… and when you're tired, what do you start thinking about? You. 'I'm tired.' When you're home you say 'mom, I'm tired,' and you expect some sympathy or [a hug]. 'Oh baby.'
Don't be tired. Don't be tired. My mother, god bless her, I never saw my mom sick. In other words, when I grew up, I woke up every day and my mom was there. I took it for granted. She's never tired – or she never showed it. Be as tough as your mothers. They show up all the time, alright, and we need to show up all the time. Be as tough as your mothers."
The Blue Devilsbehind stellar showings from R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, and are the current in 2019.
Duke is far more reliant on freshmen production than most in the sport, and while their talent level may be superior to almost everyone they face, toughness, both mentally and physically, could dictate just how far it can go in 2018-19.