Duke enters the 2016-17 season tabbed as the ACC favorite after receiving 85 of 91 first-place votes in Wednesday’s preseason media poll.
Grayson Allen, the Blue Devils’ All-American junior guard who was the conference’s second leading scorer last season (21.6 points per game), was voted preseason player of the year.
Duke freshmen Jayson Tatum, who will be sidelined two weeks with a left foot sprain, and Harry Giles, who is recovering from a knee scope, got votes for preseason rookie of the year, but the honor went to N.C. State’s Dennis Smith.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t name a timetable for when Giles will play. He has been excluded from contact in practice but does some band and pool work.
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Duke welcomes one of the best rookie classes in the nation, including four five-star recruits. It’s the sixth time the Blue Devils have topped USA Today’s preseason poll.
A core of seasoned veterans will add to Duke’s depth this season, as graduate student Amile Jefferson and senior guard Matt Jones join Allen as top returners. Luke Kennard, a double-figure scorer last season (11.8 points per game), will also be back.
We have a lot of versatile players, so we can have versatile lineups.
Though Giles and Tatum will not play in either exhibition game, Krzyzewski said Wednesday that this group as a whole offers versatility.
“Every one of our players is a good player,” said Krzyzewski, noting it’s the first time in his tenure at Duke that he’s used all of its scholarships. There are 13 players on scholarship.
“We have more players than normal, one or two more,” he said. “That helps us in practice, with everything. We had a scrimmage yesterday with ACC officials, so when one team’s playing against the other, the other team’s good, no matter who you have. We have to be careful that we don’t wear them out either.”
With the blend of veterans and young players, Duke’s shooting for Krzyzewski’s sixth national title. Duke finished 25-11 and fell to Oregon in the round of 16 last season.
“I’m truly looking forward to seizing the moment that I have here and the opportunity I have to be back with this group to do something special,” said Jefferson, who has recovered from last season’s broken foot and returns as one of Duke’s best rebounders.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Preseason All-ACC First Team
▪ Grayson Allen, Duke
▪ Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
▪ Joel Berry II, North Carolina
▪ London Perrantes, Virginia
▪ Dennis Smith, N.C. State
Preseason All-ACC Second Team
▪ Justin Jackson, North Carolina
▪ Jayson Tatum, Duke
▪ Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
▪ Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
▪ Michael Young, Pittsburgh
Preseason ACC Player of the Year: Grayson Allen, Duke
Preseason ACC Rookie of the Year: Dennis Smith, N.C. State