Graduation, an early exit to the NBA and a late transfer left Duke unusually frail at guard entering next basketball season.
But an unexpected option has emerged that could address the shortage.
Andre Dawkins, Mike Krzyzewski's first Hampton Roads recruit, is considering whether to enroll at Duke a year ahead of schedule.
Given that Dawkins is sharp academically, skilled athletically and has attended high school for four years, the alternative may prove best for all parties.
Dawkins, a 6-foot-5 wing with exceptional shooting range, recently completed his third year of schooling and basketball at Atlantic Shores Christian in Chesapeake.
A staple of Boo Williams' summer program, he selected Duke last June and planned to enroll in 2010.
But as his father, also named Andre, explained Wednesday, Dawkins has completed his core academic requirements and is close to graduating from Atlantic Shores.
"His grades are strong," the elder Dawkins said. "He's ahead of the game. He took Algebra I in the seventh grade. He took (advanced placement) stats and chemistry this year."
Whether or not he heads to Duke next month, Dawkins' Atlantic Shores career appears over. He has applied for admission to Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Chatham whose alumni include first-round NBA draft choices David West and Josh Howard.
"We wanted to challenge him a little bit athletically," Dawkins' father said.
The Dawkins family moved to Chesapeake from Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2005, and as a ninth-grader that fall Andre attended Deep Creek High, where he played on the junior varsity.
He transferred to Atlantic Shores the following year and reclassified, for basketball purposes, as a ninth-grader.
So Dawkins certainly could graduate this summer and qualify for admission at Duke. But even with point guard Greg Paulus' graduation and wing Gerald Henderson's departure to the NBA, that seemed unnecessary.
Then last month, guard Elliot Williams, whose late-season progress helped the Blue Devils win the 2009 ACC tournament, revealed plans to return to his hometown of Memphis for family reasons. Suddenly, Krzyzewski had two scholarship guards for next season: Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer.
For a program that aspires to annual Final Four contention, that's not enough.
"I think he's ready (for college basketball), and I think it's a good opportunity for him," Boo Williams said. "I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. He's got some things to learn on the defensive end."
There's the rub. Elliot Williams developed into a capable defender last season, and only then was Krzyzewski willing to start him.
But given his roster, Krzyzewski may need to accept youthful defensive lapses in exchange for depth and long-range scoring.
Dawkins' father declined to discuss the possibility of his son playing at Duke in 2009-10.
"Those are questions we don't want to answer," he said good-naturedly.
The father's reluctance is understandable. Among the many reasons Dawkins committed to Duke early was to avoid the media magpies who chronicle high-profile recruitments.
Now they'll be hovering, especially when Dawkins joins his Boo Williams teammates for a national tournament in Florida from July 26-Aug. 1.
Last week at the Peach Jam in South Carolina, Dawkins competed in relative peace and under the eye of Krzyzewski and Duke assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski.
College coaches cannot comment on prospects until they sign a letter-of-intent or enroll, so we don't know how the Blue Devils staff evaluated Dawkins' performance, which Williams said was limited by a sprained foot.
We do know that since averaging 20.5 points last season and teaming with Oklahoma signee Steven Pledger to lead Atlantic Shores to the Division II state private-school final, Dawkins has been barnstorming like a Harlem Globetrotter.
There was the Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton, followed by an NBA camp in Charlottesville, the Paul Pierce Skills Academy in Boston, the LeBron Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio (no word on whether Dawkins witnessed Xavier guard Jordan Crawford's fêted dunk on King James) and Peach Jam.
At most if not every stop, Dawkins reportedly has urged others to join him at Duke, especially Harrison Barnes, a 6-8 wing from Ames, Iowa, who's also considering North Carolina (love those Roy vs. Coach K recruiting rows), Kansas and Iowa State, among others.
"What we're focusing on right now is completing the summer for basketball," Dawkins' father said. "Then we'll make some decisions. He has some options."
Rarely a bad thing.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.