July 25, 2024

Whatever happens, this season is set to be one of the most interesting we’ve seen at Duke in a long time.

We’re still in the calm before the media frenzy surrounding Cooper Flagg, but Duke fans are prepared because we’ve been through this before. Consider the past:

– **Christian Laettner**: The animosity towards Laettner, who graduated in 1992, persists, especially in Kentucky. His ruthless and arrogant dominance terrified everyone in college basketball, and there was nothing they could do to stop him.

– **JJ Redick**: The new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers almost quit under the intense scrutiny he faced at Duke before realizing that the best revenge was immense success.

– **Grayson Allen**: His repeated tripping incidents reignited the Duke-hating machinery, with social media amplifying the reactions significantly.

– **Zion Williamson**: The fascination with the 6’6″, 285 lb athletic phenom was so intense that Duke-hating was temporarily set aside. Even Barack Obama came to Cameron Indoor Stadium to watch him, although Williamson was injured early in the infamous Duke-UNC game when his shoe blew out.

Meet Cooper Flagg: Duke Basketball's Newest Five-Star Freshman

How will things unfold with young Flagg?

We’ll see. He’s a ready-made target, and the fact that he should be a high school senior is already forgotten.

This article predicts a successful season for Flagg and Duke, citing three reasons: 1) the talent surrounding Flagg, 2) his compatibility with Duke’s system, and 3) despite being only 17, he has consistently played against top talent.

It’s hard to argue with these points. Duke has a big, athletic team, and the defense is expected to be stellar. Flagg should fit well and has already dominated high-end competition.

Our guess is that he will generally live up to expectations, but the media—both traditional and 24/7 social media—remains a wild card.

Flagg would benefit from seeking advice from Laettner, Redick, Allen, Williamson, and others like Steve Wojciechowski and Bobby Hurley, who also faced significant scrutiny at Duke.

He might also consider tuning out social media until after the season. Who needs the distraction?

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