Lost among all of Duke's high school all-Americans is Chris Carrawell. But there is no doubting his value to the Blue Devils.
Carrawell brings toughness and a piece of the streets to this Duke team. Since his arrival on campus three years ago, he has played every position on the floor, including center as a freshman in a win over Tim Duncan and Wake Forest.
Carrawell may be the least talented of Duke's starters, but he is only one of two players to start in every game this season -- point guard William Avery is the other. He has become the team's designated stopper, often drawing the top scorer on the opposing team.
Coming out of an inner-city neighborhood in north St. Louis, Carrawell knew what pressure was. He grew up in a house without a father, and he would often bring home money for his younger siblings by playing older, tougher men for money.
Playing on the playground molded Carrawell into the player and person he is, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has appointed him Duke's leader. Coach K pulled him aside at halftime of Duke's game with N.C. State on Jan. 30 and told him, "Where you go, we go."
Carawell has indeed led.
He has had three operations on his shoulders in the past three years, and until this season he had trouble dunking. But that has never stopped him from doing whatever is necessary for a Duke win.
If he senses a player needs to be toughened up, he'll do it, as he did in practice at the beginning of the season with talented freshman Corey Maggette. If he senses things getting out of control on the court during a game, he'll calm his team down.
As blue-blooded as Duke may be, it is taking its cues this season from a product of the streets.