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April 7, 2006

Senior sendoff: J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick has been a Duke guy for just about all of his life. It's become near legendary that, as a young child, he proclaimed that he would one day play for Duke after seeing Christian Laettner make the now famous buzzer beater to defeat Kentucky in 1992.

Redick committed to Duke on October 5, 2000, prior to the start of his junior year of high school. He left Roanoke (Va.) Cave Spring as the country's sixth ranked shooting guard, checking in behind Bracey Wright, Rashad Anderson, Hassan Adams, Allan Ray, and DeAngelo Alexander.

Though all of those players did some good things on the college level, Redick ultimately stood tall atop of the heap by the time his Duke career ended.

He obliterated the Duke record book, setting career records for scoring, three point shooting, and free throw shooting. He also became the ACC's all time leading scorer and the NCAA's all time leading three point shooter.

He tallied national player of the year honors as both a junior and a senior, paired with two ACC player of the year awards.

His trademark dagger three pointers and unmatched pizzazz on the court quickly made him one of the country's most famous players as a freshman.

As the years, points, records, and wins piled up, the aura surrounding Redick only continued to swell. He was adored inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, despised in nearly every other venue.

Through it all, Redick displayed a classy approach, taking all the jeers and barbs in stride, often laughing along as opposing student sections had a field day with him.

Redick's status as a Duke legend is cemented not only for his statistical accomplishments, but for his unmatched work ethic that profited him more and more as his career went on.

He was purely a spot up three point shooter as a freshman, when he averaged 15.0 points per game with nearly 58 percent of those points coming from three pointers.

He improved a bit as a sophomore, but a chat with Coach K after his second season set loose a competitive fire in Redick that could not be quenched.

After being told that he had to up his commitment level, Redick embarked on a dizzying offseason conditioning program, which set the stage for his incredible junior year.

As a senior, he went up another level into the college basketball stratosphere. He averaged 26.8 points per game in his final year.

At the end of his career, only 43 percent of his scoring was due to three point shooting. Constant work on his dribble moves, strength, and ball skills made him a player much more able to create his own shot moving toward the basket.

Redick takes a lot of criticism for struggling in the NCAA Tournament, but Duke's teams in recent years would have never made it as far as they did without Redick's sparkling play.

He stayed on the court for a remarkable amount of minutes. As a senior, he averaged 37.1 minutes a night, only slightly down from his 37.3 average as a junior.

The images from Redick's career are both numerous and memorable. There was his 34 point effort against Virginia as a freshman, and a 30 point outing against NC State in the 2003 ACC Tournament championship. He toyed with Maryland as a sophomore, netting 26 points on 5-of-6 three point shooting in College Park. He blitzed the ACC Tournament again as a junior, averaging 25.33 points in wins over Virginia, NC State, and Georgia Tech.

As a senior, the images only grew more outstanding. The 41 point game against Texas, the killer threes at Chapel Hill, the record breaking three over Wake Forest's Justin Gray, another record breaking three from the corner in front of the Duke bench against Miami, a record breaking free throw against Temple in Philadelphia.

Redick didn't accomplish the ultimate goal that he returned to Duke for one more year to try to achieve. He desperately wanted to take the Blue Devils to a national title.

While that wasn't meant to be, Redick is easily one of the great legends of college basketball and will soon enough see his number raised to the rafters in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Nobody loved to wear the Duke uniform more than Redick. Somewhere, you have to think there was a kid that saw Redick play that turned to his parents and declared his intentions of playing at Duke one day, just like Redick did 14 years ago.

If that kid turns out half as good as Redick did, Duke basketball will be in good shape for years to come.


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