This year's Duke basketball team may rival one of the best teams of all time? Rick Pitino, head coach of the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats, thinks so.
The Louisville head coach was a guest on Jon Rothstein's College Hoops Today podcast on Monday, and had some very interesting things to say about one of his 2016 ACC foes: the Duke Blue Devils.
In terms of pure talent, he thinks that Mike Krzyzewski's team this year has talent that rivals that of his greatest team, the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats.
From Rothstein at Today's U:
“They’ve got a fifth-year guy (Amile Jefferson) who’s a terrific rebounder and basketball player and they’ve got great shooting, great coaching and a great system,” Pitino said. “They’ve got it all. They’re very deep and they’ve got two of the best in Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles — the one-and-two ranked high school players in the nation. They’re as good of a team as I’ve seen in the modern era.
“We just had our reunion in Miami (the 1996 team) and the hat said on the side said, 'greatest team ever'... That was a great basketball team, but I think Duke rivals that basketball team in terms of talent.”
Duke returns Jefferson, a very solid fifth-year senior who missed significant time last season, an ACC superstar in Grayson Allen, important contributors like Luke Kennard and Matt Jones, and add an absolutely star-studded recruiting class.
That group ranks No. 1 in the nation, and features four five-star players, per 247Sports.
The podcast was likely recorded before today's news that Harry Giles, the nation's No. 2 player, will be out for an extended period of time to start the year. Still, assuming Giles makes it back, Duke has plenty of talent to compete for yet another national championship under Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke basketball and Louisville face off at the KFC Yum! Center on January 14.