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What Would Have Happened if Corey Maggette at Duke Spent Four Years in College?


( 11,2020)--When Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski received a commitment from Corey Maggette out of high school, he figured to have the talented wing player for four seasons. After all, he was one of the only coaches in college basketball not feeling the pain of players leaving

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Corey Maggette
courtesy of Pinterest

school early. However, after one season, Maggette decided that he was ready for the NBA, and after a 14-year career, it appears as though he made the right choice to leave school when he did.


In that one season, he showed enough promise to make one of the most talented rotations in college basketball history. Just how much damage could he have done in college if he spent four years in Durham?


First, let us take a look at what he did that freshman season. Although he saw his numbers fluctuate a bit, Maggette was firmly in the rotation for Duke in his freshman season. He finished the year averaging 10.6 points per game, and he did so very efficiently from all parts of the floor.


Championship aspirations each year


Duke seemed poised to go on a dominant run at the turn of the century, as all but one of the starters from the 1998-1999 were underclassmen. However, things changed in a hurry when Elton Brand, William Avery, and Maggette all decided to leave school early.


For the first time in his career, Coach Krzyzewski had to be creative with his recruiting tactics. However, even if Brand and Avery left but Maggette stayed, Duke was bringing in plenty of talent in the upcoming years to be competitive.


Just two years later, Duke won a National Championship even without those players. In what would have been the senior years of Brand and Avery and the junior year of Maggette, Duke won with a combination of veteran leadership and the youthful talent of Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy, and Carlos Boozer. Perhaps Dunleavey would have looked elsewhere if Maggette was still at Duke blocking his playing time, but the other two were likely heading to Durham either way.


No one ever was able to see Maggette play as a go-to score at the college level, but he turned into one in the NBA at times. His size and athleticism lead to some high-efficiency numbers at that level, so it seems likely that he would have had even more success in college. Now he helps run children’s basketball camps and is a star in the Big3. So he’s been super successful on and off the court and we can thank Duke for part of that.


Comparing Maggette to former Duke players in the past


The most common comparison Maggette picked up almost right after arriving in Durham was Grant Hill. Right away, he faced high expectations as a player who could do a little bit of everything during his time with Duke. People remember Hill as a player who filled a role in his first two seasons at Duke, and then evolved into an All-American by the end of his college career.


There are certainly a lot of similarities between the two players, as they had similar styles and size with their game. It is easy to say that Hill was the more talented player in college, but he had plenty of rough edges to his game during his first year.


It is unfair to say that Maggette would have matched or even been particularly close to Hill’s career by merely staying for four years. At the same time, Hill is known as one of the top overall college players in the history of the game. Even if Maggette fell a little bit short in meeting those expectations, he still could have had a very successful career.


Would Maggette have a National Championship?


It does not seem easy to imagine a scenario where Maggette would have played four years at Duke and not won a National Championship. Anything could happen in the tournament, but Duke did end up winning a National Championship without him two years later. A lot of team success comes down to overall fit, and no one knows how Maggette could have played with that roster in 2000-2001. From a talent perspective, he definitely could have made them even more dangerous, which is a scary thought considering they played so well in the tournament.


What Happened to Corey Maggette?


Maggette faced a lot of backlash for his decision on leaving school early, but on draft day, he became an instant millionaire when he was the 13th overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics. Getting into the NBA earlier meant that his rookie contract finished faster, and getting those additional veteran paydays came at a younger age as well. Did Maggette make the right decision leaving after one year?


With 14 years in the NBA getting paid close to $90 million in salary, no one should fault a talented player leaving early. In a different era, he might have stayed all four years and be near the top of many career lists at Duke. Instead, he will be remembered for all that promise and raw talent as a freshman on one of the most talented teams never to win a title.