Carlos Boozer, in some ways, had a tough road at Duke: as a freshman, he was expected to take Elton Brand's spot. Coming out of Alaska, where big men are rare, he had a considerable adjustment. A broken foot didn't help. As he rounded into form his sophomore year, he had another injury. Fortunately, he made it back in time for the stretch drive.
A lot of people seemed really down after the UVa game. It's worth mentioning how much worse it was last year after Maryland won in Cameron and Boozer injured his foot. At the time, it seemed like the season was over. Boozer's play this year has been sensational, and he has become the most fundamentally sound big man in the country, without exception. The only guy who is in the same neighborhood is Arizona's Walton, and he's not a big man in the same sense.
We greatly appreciate how Carlos has carried himself during his Duke years. He's been a great kid to have around. We saw him, much to our surprise, hug a student reporter at a press gathering (it wasn't Brody Greenwald). He's really matured enormously and Duke will miss him, as a player, and as a person, after he is gone.
The last guy to mention is Jason Williams. It's hard to imagine saying anything new about Jason. He's been a brilliant talent, blinding at times. He's done things we've never seen guards do at Duke before. We think of the Maryland game his sophomore year, the 19 points straight against UCLA, and dozens of other highlights.
When Jason first played for Duke, in New York, we got e-mail from a regular antagonist who said he was clearly overrated and it was our fault for pumping him up. If anything, we underestimated how good he is. When we first saw him, his jump shot was erratic; now that's one of his best weapons. We were thrilled with him then, and we have felt more and more blessed by his being part of Duke. We have said this several times, but Jason is the most normal big shot you can imagine. He's just one step shy of being nerdy. He's the most earnest kid you can imagine for someone who gets the attention he does.
As great as all three of these kids have been, we've also been extremely impressed with their parents. Jason's mother is the most visible, but his father is also responsible for how that kid turned out, and the Boozers are very nice people as well. And Matt's father, Clayton, is a remarkable man who is responsible for a great deal of critical thinking about business.
Anyway, we're sorry to see all three go, but we're incredibly happy they came to Duke and turned out to be such decent, normal people.