Duke Basketball: 2021 SF Patrick Baldwin Jr. on path to be best since Zion

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Patrick Baldwin Jr. is not the same style of player as Zion Williamson — no one may ever be — but his own style and devotion to his craft could have Duke basketball fans one day asking, ‘Best since Zion?’

As a college basketball fan, I’d like to see the NBA go ahead and erase the rule that restricts teenagers from entering the draft until a year removed from high school. Though lucrative to the NCAA — see the impact of Duke basketball freshman Zion Williamson — the one-and-done era is about as healthy to the overall college game as smoking is to the overall health of a human being.

As a Duke basketball fan, though, who is in awe of the freshmen-powered and about-to-be-top-ranked-yet-again team in Durham, I’m 100-percent satisfied by the rule not changing before the arrival of Zion, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish.

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And if a five-star 2021 small forward named Patrick Baldwin Jr. is destined to be a Blue Devil, then forget the opinion I expressed in the opening paragraph and sign my petition for the NBA to hold off a few years on that rule change.

Baldwin Jr., who ranks as the No. 1 player in his class on the 247Sports Composite, already holds offers from 17 schools, including one from Duke — the program’s only one to date to a player from his class and the earliest one coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever extended to a recruit (came in July 2018, i.e., the summer after Baldwin Jr.’s freshman year).

The 247Sports Crystal Ball, though only containing predictions from two experts, shows a future with the 6-foot-8, 190-pound native of Sussex, Wis., playing for the college coach with the all-time most wins (Coach K has reiterated multiple times this season that he has no plans to retire anytime soon).

If the vision of Baldwin Jr. playing for Cameron Indoor Stadium’s home team becomes a reality, here’s a list of what Duke basketball fans have the potential to witness:

  • The smoothest 3-point shooting stroke of any Blue Devil in history taller than J.J. Redick — Baldwin Jr. led his team to a win on Saturday by nailing seven of his nine attempts from deep and finishing with 38 points
  • The sharpest handles of any Blue Devil in history who was not a true point guard
  • The sweetest post moves and softest touch around the rim of any Blue Devil in history weighing less than 225 pounds
  • The refined skills that come from being the son of a college head coach (his dad is currently the head honcho at Milwaukee)

Now, it’s true he still needs to spend some hours in the weight room — relax, he’s barely old enough to drive — which would help him be a more vicious defender. But college coaches are enamored by his obvious determination to improve to go along with his overall talents, poise under pressure, and humble personality.

In my eyes, after drooling over all available footage of his games seemingly whenever I’m not drooling over Zion’s recent highlights in Duke games, his whole package gives him a higher ceiling than any current high school player I’ve watched.

ALSO READ: 10 names to know as Duke eyes historic 2020 class

Speaking of watching, according to a tweet from Phenom University, two Duke basketball assistants were on hand last week to see him play yet again.

Hopefully, those coaches’ frequent trips won’t be in vain.

In other words, I dream he picks Duke someday (don’t expect an announcement anytime soon) while those who publish mock NBA drafts years in advance — NBADraftRoom.com already pegs Baldwin Jr. as the first overall pick in 2022 — have no reason, based on the looming rule change, to move his name to the top of the 2021 draft.

Next. Five sweetest comeback wins of the Coach K era. dark

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