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Duke ‘an interesting mix’ this season, says Grant Hill

Matt Jones #13 and Jayson Tatum #0 of

Matt Jones #13 and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Duke Blue Devils talk with head coach Mike Krzyzewski against the Florida Gators in the first half on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Credit: Getty Images / Michael Reaves

Grant Hill sees the same winning mentality with this season’s Duke team as when he played four seasons with the Blue Devils two decades ago.

“For Duke it’s about winning championships and anything less is considered a failure. I think the same thing could be applied with some of the teams I was fortunate enough to play on in the early ’90s,” Hill told Newsday on Wednesday during a phone call to promote Allstate’s NABC Good Works Team.

Duke, who entered the week ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 polls, defeated No. 21 Florida on Tuesday night, 84-74, in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Luke Kennard led the team with 29 points to improve Duke’s record to 9-1.

“The Duke team now, I think health is the most important thing. It’s an interesting mix. They have some older seniors, captains and leaders. This is an unbelievable freshman class,” said the former Duke standout and NBA star. “Then you have Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard who have been there for a few years. You have a very balanced team and a lot of depth.”

Hill played for Duke from 1990 to 1994 and averaged 14.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. He was the ACC Player of the Year as a senior. Hill also won back-to-back national championships during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

One of Duke’s biggest challengers to another title this season is defending champion Villanova. The Wildcats are 9-0 and the No. 1 ranked team in men’s college basketball.

“It’s hard to repeat,” Hill said. “I certainly know that first hand from way, way back. But Villanova and Jay Wright have some of the guys from last year’s team. They have to be right up there. They’ve started well and they look really good. I think they have to be one of the teams.

“There are probably five to seven teams, the way it looks right now, that have a legitimate chance and opportunity to be champions this year and ‘Nova is certainly one of those.”

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