Recruiting Fail


Quick question…should you be slightly concerned about the double de-commitments this summer? Of course I’m talking about (SF) Carrick Felix and (PF/C) Tyler Adams.

Back in June, Carrick Felix, Coach K’s first ever Juco transfer walked on campus and decided Duke wasn’t right for him. He asked for a release and one was granted.

Then in October, Mississippi native (and 2011 recruit), Tyler Adams de-committed just two weeks ago. Even though Adams was saying all the right things all along, the writing was on the wall when the big guy showed up for Midnight Madness that was not located in Durham.

Prior to that, I had heard nothing about Adams changing his commitment. Just goes to show you how little I know.

So what went wrong? The Blue Devils don’t lose recruits, right? Sure I’ve seen kids label Duke as their favorites, lead us to believe they’re on their way, only to end up on Skype with Roy Williams, but I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen a Duke commit go else where.

Both players’ situations are very simliar. Both were “discovered” by Coach Nate James. This isn’t surprising, since he is in charge of recruiting, but unlike big names like Austin Rivers and Kyrie Irving (whose first phone calls come from Coach K), neither Felix or Adams were five-star studs.

In fact, when Coach James found Felex up in Idaho, he was there to see a different player. Adams on the other hand was a low-end four-star recruit. However, prior to getting a phone call from Duke coaches, few thought he would escape the state of Mississippi.

Now I’m not saying Nate James is at fault. I think he’s new at this and experience will help. Knowing who really is a “Duke” guy will become second nature. Like I said, he’s not being asked to deliver the top players in the country. He’s being asked to find the hidden gems. Like satisfying my wife, that’s not an easy task.

Secondly, these two guys were outside what I would call the “Duke zone.” Yes, I know the Devils recruit nationally, but that’s only true for the big name guys. If you actually look at the Blue Devils throughout the years, a majority of past Duke players came from ACC country (which I would include Tennessee) and up into the Northeast.

Look at this year’s roster. Every player with the exception Kyle Singler (Oregon) is from the Carolinas and up. Technically the brother Plumlees are from Indiana, but they played their high school ball in North Carolina.

Excluding the walk ons (Zafiirovski and Peters) four Duke players played HS ball in North Carolina (Plumlee’s, Kelly and Curry), two are from Virginia (Hairston and Dawkins), two from DC/Maryland (Smith, Thornton) and one is from Jersey (Irving).

The 2011 class has two kids from Virginia (Cook, Gbinije), Marshall Plumlee (North Carolina) and Austin Rivers (from South Florida).

In the end though, this really comes down to one thing…playing time (I guess that’s two things, “playing” and “time”). Carrick Felix walked on campus and realized the playing time wasn’t going to be there. This year (which would be Felix’s sophomore) he’d be sitting, watching Kyle Singler. Next year, he’d have to battle Michael Gbinije (who is the 5th rank SF in the 2011 class). Instead Felix went back south and will be starting this season at Arizona State.

As for Tyler Adams, I think when Duke brought in Marshall Plumlee, it sapped Adams’ excitement. While Adams is a load and he does have plenty of talent, the youngest Plumlee is a more prototypical Blue Devil center. He’s tall, skinny and athletic.

Tyler Adams would simply be walking into a packed front-court. Think about it, as a 2011 freshman he would find himself with three Plumlee brothers, Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston all in front of him.

Adams, the #12 ranked center in the 2011 class, clearly decided that there was a better opportunity at Georgetown. The Hoyas have some big men coming in this year and next, but there really won’t be any upperclassmen who have locked up the post positions in 2011.