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Andre Dawkins is not leaving Duke

I know, I know: That headline feels akin to “Dog does not bite man.” I can see the age-old commenter question already: Why is this news?

It is indeed news. Why? Because the past couple weeks have seen a noticeable uptick in rumors about Duke guard Andre Dawkins' future at the school. Typically, such rumors are easy to dismiss. But Duke fans have been at the message boards relentlessly, sure something was up -- that Dawkins was being dismissed, that he was transferring schools, that he had been arrested, you name it. The rumblings were persistently loud enough that on Thursday night Duke had to release a statement on the topic, asserting that Dawkins would remain a Blue Devil, but might redshirt the 2012–13 season, which would delay his final season of eligibility.

So Dawkins isn’t leaving, but he might sit out a year. Why? According to his father, Dawkins is still dealing with the death of his sister, Lacey Dawkins, who was killed in a car accident on Dec. 5, 2009, when she was on her to way to watch her brother play collegiate basketball for the first time. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

“He’s dealt with a lot,” Dawkins’ father said. “It’s been tough. It hasn’t been easy at all. With the fast pace of playing high-level basketball, you don’t really get the time to deal with things like that.

“Everyone is different, and so everyone might handle that situation differently. I appreciate the fact that’s an option for him if that’s going to be the case. That’s been really great.” […]

Dawkins’ father stressed that Dawkins is doing well.

“I didn’t want you have to the impression that anything’s wrong,” he said. “This may be an option for him in the fall because he came in early, so this just may be an option for him. I didn’t want people to think he’s sick or anything’s wrong.”

So there you have it. Dawkins might still need some time to cope. Duke might allow him that time without him having to leave the program. Once rumors like this get started, it’s hard to blame fans for fearing the worst -- oftentimes, those fears are grounded in legitimacy -- but in this case, the truth is far less nefarious than anything on the Internet. Fancy that.

In any case, Duke fans would surely love to see Dawkins back in uniform as a senior this fall. They’d also love to see him raise his game to a more consistent level. Dawkins has always been one of the nation’s best, more lethal outside shooters, but he has yet to round into something more than that, and his production has been hampered by off-again-on-again bouts with inconsistency.

The good news for Duke: If Dawkins doesn’t play, the Blue Devils will still have Seth Curry, Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton returning, while adding the No. 3-ranked shooting guard prospect in the country -- and No. 12-ranked player overall -- in Rasheed Sulaimon.

Dawkins still holds a tremendous amount of promise in that body, with that sweet shooting stroke. But if he is unable to play in 2012–13, much as they won’t like it, the Blue Devils should be able to move forward without him.