Luol Deng responded to the teaching of Mike Krzyzewski almost
from the moment he met the Duke coach. "When we shook hands, he
said it should be a firm handshake," says Deng, recalling the
advice he got during Krzyzewski's official recruiting visit.
After establishing himself last season as the nation's
second-best high school player (after LeBron James), Deng is
eager to learn more and improve upon his multitudinous talents.
Krzyzewski has already described the 6'8", 220-pound Deng as
having a combination of Shane Battier's character, Grant Hill's
versatility and Steve Wojciechowski's tenacity. "Luol can be our
go-to player," Krzyzewski says. "When he will become that is the
question. We have to remember he is just 18."
Then again, Deng's life experience is not that of a typical
18-year-old. When Luol was four, his family had to flee to Egypt
to escape the bloody civil war that has raged for years in Sudan,
the Dengs' native country. Luol and his eight siblings shared a
three-room apartment in Alexandria with their mother, Martha.
Three years later the family moved to London, and Luol was sent
to a New Jersey boarding school, Blair Academy, in 1999. "I was
really homesick when I first got there, but I had to learn to
take care of myself," Deng says. "With everything I've seen in my
past, I think I matured a little earlier."
Deng, who has the wingspan of a 7-footer, should help give the
Blue Devils what they sorely lacked last season: solid low-post
scoring. His presence alongside 6'10", 245-pound sophomore
reserve Shavlik Randolph, who has beefed up by 15 pounds
following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, will
enable the team's sharpshooters to get better looks. But the Blue
Devils must get better production from senior point guard Chris
Duhon, who shot only 27.3% from three-point range.
Deng is careful not to proclaim himself the key to Duke's
chances--"We're all doing it together," he says--but his
teammates are eager for him to assert himself. "Luol is trying to
fit in right now, but we don't want him to fit in," Duhon says.
"We want him to be him." --S.D.
COLOR PHOTO: JON GARDINER/DUKE UNIVERSITY BATTLE-TESTED As a child Deng had to flee his homeland, Sudan, so hostile crowds shouldn't faze him.
2002-03 RECORD: 26-7 (11-5, T2 in ACC)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Kansas in Sweet 16
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Daniel Ewing 6'3" Jr. 40.0 3FG%
PF Luol Deng 6'8" Fr. 23.0 ppg*
C Shelden Williams 6'9" Soph. 5.9 rpg
SG J.J. Redick 6'4" Soph. 15.0 ppg
PG Chris Duhon 6'1" Sr. 6.4 apg
an opposing coach's view
"Duke has the best floor spacing of any team in the country, and
it's great at penetrating and pitching for jump shots.... CHRIS
DUHON sets the tone, but he takes a lot of threes that make you
think, What kind of shot was that?... J.J. REDICK is as good a
shooter as I've seen at that age, but he's the weak link in the
defense. If you run him off screens when he's playing D, that can
affect him at the other end.... LUOL DENG is the real deal. He
could've come out this year and been a high NBA pick.... A
healthy SHAVLIK RANDOLPH is a big boost. He's extremely gifted
offensively, and despite his size, he may be most comfortable
outside facing the basket."
Games in which guard J.J. Redick scored 20 or more points last
season, the most by a Duke freshman in the Mike Krzyzewski era.