Moments after watching Kyrie Irving practice with the under-18 U.S. national team earlier this week, ESPN analyst Jason Williams offered an opinion of the Duke signee that will surely raise some eyebrows around college basketball.
"John Wall is an exceptional talent, but if I had to pick a point guard, I'd take Kyrie," Williams told the San Antonio Express-News.
It's certainly possible that Williams is guilty of pro-Duke bias in his evaluation of Irving, but there are also plenty of signs that Irving is capable of making the impact in Durham that Wall made in Lexington. Not only will the New Jersey native take Jon Scheyer's spot in Duke's starting lineup as a true freshman, coach Mike Krzyzewski has also said it is Irving and not seniors Kyle Singler or Nolan Smith who will be the focal point of the Blue Devils' offense.
"We'll change our whole offense, the way we play because of Kyrie," Krzyzewski told Adam Zagoria last month. "Just like we did when we had Jason Williams, he'll make a big impact right away. He's going to be very, very good."
Hyperbole preceding the arrival of a decorated recruit is certainly not unusual in college basketball, but consider that statement for a moment. Although Duke returns the majority of a roster that won the national championship in March, Krzyzewski intends to return his team to its running, pressing roots as a result of Irving's unique blend of quickness, athleticism and savvy.
For those who think the hype surrounding Irving is a Duke creation, the Express-News spoke to one observer at the U.S. camp who said the Blue Devils' signee had already emerged as the best player there.
"And it's not even close," the observer said.