Duke Basketball: Blue Devils may boast four McDonald’s All-Americans

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Year in and year out, the McDonald’s All-American Game allows Duke basketball fans to catch a glimpse of future Blue Devils; tonight’s game is no exception.

Two of this year’s 24 McDonald’s All-Americans are Duke basketball commits. Two others remain targets; if both become Blue Devils, the total of four would be the most of any program this year while also tying four previous Duke classes — 1999, 2002, 2014, 2018 — for the program record.

Speaking of records, from the honor’s 1977 inception until the present day, Duke’s 77 commits who have been McDonald’s All-Americans represent the most of any program and account for nearly 10 percent of the all-time honorees. Also, Duke owns another McDonald’s All-American distinction by having at least one for each of the past 35 years.

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Not too shabby.

So when the 43rd annual McDonald’s All-American Game — there was a named team in 1977 but no game — tips off in Atlanta at 7:00 p.m. tonight on ESPN2, Duke fans will once again have ample reason to tune in.

However, of Duke’s two 2019 commits to date who are McDonald’s All-Americans, only one will see action: Wendell Moore, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward from Concord, N.C., who ranks No. 23 on the 247Sports Composite, is on the East roster.

Vernon Carey Jr., a 6-foot-10, 275-pound center from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who ranks No. 3, is also on the East roster but will not play due to his ongoing recovery from a high ankle sprain.

That brings us to power forwards Matthew Hurt and Trendon Watford, the two Duke targets in the game who could join Moore and Carey Jr. as Blue Devils next season (combo guard Boogie Ellis, a San Diego native who ranks the lowest of Duke’s three 2019 commits at No. 34, did not make the team).

ALSO READ: McDonald’s snub of Boogie Ellis may benefit Blue Devils

Hurt, a Rochester, Minn., native with a No. 8 ranking who will suit up for the West, holds an offer from the Blue Devils and has set an announcement date for April 19 (he visited Duke the weekend of Jan. 19 and was in attendance for the Blue Devils’ first of two wins over Virginia). The 6-foot-9, 215-pound scoring machine — he averaged 37 points for his senior season — is likely to decide between Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and UNC.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball shows Duke as the favorite to land Hurt with 53 percent of the experts’ picks, including one from lead expert Evan Daniels, who has thus far accurately predicted landing spots for 91 of 94 recruits from the 2019 class.

Watford, a Birmingham, Ala., native with a No. 27 ranking who will suit up for the East, does not hold a Duke offer but expects to before his announcement date, which he intends to be on April 20. Although the Blue Devils do not appear inside the Crystal Ball for Watford, they do appear to occupy space inside his mind, evidenced by what he told USA Today’s Jason Jordan this week.

"“I’ve been talking to guys like Wendell and Vernon down here at McDonald’s,” said the 6-foot-9, 230-pounder, who possesses a strong array of offensive skills in the paint and from the perimeter. “I’ve played with both of them before, and we had good chemistry.“[The Duke coaches] haven’t offered yet, but I think it’s something they want to do personally. I’m definitely gonna take an official visit to Duke after everything slows down.”"

The Blue Devils’ 2019 class currently ranks No. 9 in the country, according to 247Sports, but the addition of Hurt and Watford — or possibly just Hurt alone — would propel it to No. 1, marking the fourth consecutive year (five of the past six) that the top class has landed in Durham.

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