Duke Basketball: Chris Carrawell may be Blue Devils’ next master recruiter

Duke basketball forward Chris Carrawell (Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck/Allsport)
Duke basketball forward Chris Carrawell (Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck/Allsport) /

Successful recruiting requires supreme people skills, and the Duke basketball program has a first-year assistant coach who may possess the magical touch when trying to convince top-rated prospects to become Blue Devils.

Former Duke basketball player and current assistant Chris Carrawell makes no excuses. No, he just gets the job done.

When he was growing up in a rough St. Louis neighborhood without a father figure in his home — containing only two beds and no kitchen table — that he shared with his three siblings and single mother, he could have easily chosen the route of many of his peers by joining a gang, selling drugs, and likely ending up either six feet underground or behind bars as a result.

But he didn’t.

And when he was in high school, he could have given up playing basketball after suffering shoulder injuries that prevented him from being able to fully extend his arms above his head.

But he didn’t.

Also, he could have believed the doubters who told him he wouldn’t be able to handle the demanding classes at Duke University or excel on the hardwood against ACC competition.

But he didn’t.

Instead, the 6-foot-6 small forward arrived in Durham and thrived on the court under the guidance of head coach Mike Krzyzewski, culminating in his career 58-6 conference record and being named the 2000 ACC Player of the Year as a senior.

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And these obstacle-filled life experiences not only made him a better man, but he is now possibly the answer to who will end up as the Blue Devils’ next top recruiter following the decision of former Duke guard and top assistant Jeff Capel to take the head coaching gig at Pitt back in the spring.

Thus far on the recruiting trail, Carrawell — who spent the last four years on the staff of his former Blue Devils teammate and current Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski — has a perfect mark when leading the recruitment of a prospect. Although he may have had a few advantages when pursuing the services of five-star forward Wendell Moore — his son, Caleb Stone-Carrawell, is a high school teammate of Moore, who also happens to be a lifelong Duke fan — he still had to get the job done.

And he did.

Moore announced his commitment earlier this month, becoming the Blue Devils’ lone member of their 2019 recruiting class.

As of late, Carrawell has been leading the recruitment of four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis, who is on his official visit to Duke this weekend and is expected to announce his college choice before the fall signing period (Nov. 14-21).

Despite being the last school to extend an offer to the 6-foot-2, 165-pound San Diego native, the 247Sports Crystal Ball now suddenly has Duke as the favorite to land Ellis — ranked No. 35 on the 247Sports Composite — at least in part due to the relationship that Carrawell has built with him.

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If Carrawell is able to succeed as an at-one-time underdog by snagging Ellis, a lifelong UNC fan, expect Coach K to publicly praise his newest assistant’s recruiting style and, in the future, give him the job of leading the recruitment of the program’s highest-rated targets — associate head coach Jon Scheyer currently has that role. After all, Carrawell would then be 2-for-2 with the 2019 class while Scheyer is batting 0-for-4 so far, according to 247Sports’ listing of which assistant leads the recruitment of each target.

Even if Carrawell doesn’t extend his perfect recruiting record with Ellis, expect the 40-year-old to continue to offer his services to current and future Blue Devils as the type of male role model that he yearned for as a kid.

However, don’t be surprised if Ellis soon picks Duke and embraces Carrawell as his mentor for years to come, leading future recruits to notice that relationship and desire to build one of their own with him. And then don’t be surprised if rival fans start suggesting — as they did with Capel — that Carrawell must somehow be cheating when recruiting top talents.

Meanwhile, those Duke basketball fans who were alive decades ago to witness how he surprised his doubters and overcame his less-than-ideal upbringing by excelling in a Blue Devils jersey will know that winning — the right way and with no time for excuses — is just C-Well’s style.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analysis, opinions, and predictions.