Who Will Coach Duke Basketball When Coach K Retires? Here Are His Top 5 Potential Successors

Mike Krzyzewski has been the face of the Duke Blue Devils since taking over the job in 1980, turning the program into one of the country's elite. However, Duke will be playing without him for the foreseeable future and he will undergo lower back surgery on Friday - after having knee replacement and hernia surgeries last year. The winningest coach in college basketball history will turn 70 in February, and with his body failing him, it's time to at least start thinking about who could possibly replace him in Durham.

It will be a strange day when we see someone other than Coach K on the sidelines for Duke, but whoever replaces him will almost certainly be a former Duke player that has had a successful coaching career. There will be those clamoring for Boston Celtics head man Brad Stevens, but there is nothing to suggest that he has any interest in leaving Boston - or returning to the college game, for that matter. With that in mind, here are the five most likely candidates to take over for Mike Krzyzewski when he does retire.

5) Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette head coach

The man affectionately known as Wojo was an assistant under Coach K from 1999-2014, then took the head coaching job at Marquette. After a 13-19 record in his first year (when the Golden Eagles were rebuilding), Wojo led Marquette to an 20-13 mark last year and has them at 10-3 this season.

4) Bobby Hurley, Arizona State head coach

Hurley is one of the best college players of all time, winning two national championships at Duke, and is now one of the rising stars in the coaching world. He first became a head coach with Buffalo in 2013, leading the Bulls to a 42-20 overall record during his tenure - including two regular season MAC titles and a NCAA tournament berth in 2015. Hurley left to take on a massive rebuilding job at Arizona State, where he is 23-24 in a season and a half. Still, his pedigree as a player would demand instant credibility.

3) Tommy Amaker, Harvard head coach

The most accomplished former-player-turned-coach, Amaker had mediocre stints at Seton Hall and Michigan before catching on at Harvard, where he rebuilt the Crimson into a perennial NCAA Tournament team. Harvard has won the Ivy League and made the tournament four of the last five seasons.

2) Chris Collins, Northwestern head coach

You could certainly make the argument for Collins being the top guy on this list. He played at Duke from 1992-1996 and was an assistant on Coach K's staff from 2000-2013 before leaving to take the Northwestern job. The Wildcats have improved every year under Collins, and at 12-2 this year, it looks like they will make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

1) Jeff Capel, Duke assistant coach/interim head coach

Capel played at Duke from 1993-1997 and is best known for hitting this half-court shot at the buzzer against UNC, but he also has an extensive coaching career. He was the head man at VCU from 2002-2006 before taking the Oklahoma job, where he coached until 2011. Capel led the Sooners to a 30-6 record in the 2008-09 season, but was fired after OU went just 14-18 two years later. He has been an assistant on Duke's staff since then, and will take over as the interim head coach until Krzyzewski returns.

That appointment tells you that Capel is one of the leading candidates for the job whenever it becomes available, and this is essentially an extended audition. If he does well over the course of the next month, don't be surprised if he gets the "head coach in waiting" label.

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Related Topics: NCAA Basketball, Mike Krzyzewski, ACC Basketball, Duke Basketball