Duke Basketball: 2019 PF Trendon Watford puts ball in Coach K’s court

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Powerade)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Powerade) /

A potential offer from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski could elicit a commitment from an underrated 2019 recruit who officially added the Blue Devils to his final list on Wednesday night.

The all-around game of Duke basketball target Trendon Watford puts to shame his No. 27 ranking on the 247Sports Composite.

Although the five-star power forward doesn’t display elite athleticism, he does dribble, drive, shoot, pass, rebound, defend, and compete with levels of assertiveness and confidence that suggest he would be worthy of a starting role for the Blue Devils next season.

Hours after an impressive performance as a starter for the East squad at the McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday night — 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block across 18 minutes — the 6-foot-9, 230-pound back-to-back Mr. Basketball from Birmingham, Ala., provided further evidence that he is strongly considering Durham as his landing spot for his collegiate endeavors.

Via a tweet, Watford — a key piece to his Mountain Brook High School’s three straight state titles in the highest division, averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds this past season — officially added Duke to his former “final list” of four schools: Alabama, Memphis, Indiana, and LSU.


Watford, who plans to announce his decision during the Jordan Brand Classic on April 20, included Duke despite it being the only program on the list not to extend him an offer — yet.

"“They’re pretty much saying they want me, and they want me to get up there for a visit,” Watford told FloHoops’ Adam Zagoria earlier this week. “Just to be able to be coached by one of the greatest coaches ever [Mike Krzyzewski] would be a blessing.”"

As for his prospective freshmen teammates should he choose to become a Blue Devil, Watford has no complaints.

"“I played with Vernon [Carey Jr.], I played with Wendell [Moore], I played with Boogie Ellis a little bit,” Watford added, “so I feel like we would play pretty good together.”"

He also roomed this week with Carey Jr. (a 6-foot-10, 275-pound center who ranks No. 3 on the composite), one door down from Moore (a 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward who ranks No. 22), and watched Duke’s last-second, second-round win in the NCAA Tournament over UCF on Sunday night with both.

(The other of Duke’s three commits to date, Boogie Ellis, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound combo guard who ranks No. 34, was not a McDonald’s All-American but does have an invite to the Jordan Brand Classic along with Carey Jr., Moore, and Watford.)

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Currently, the 247Sports Crystal Ball pegs Memphis as the frontrunner for Watford (62 percent of the experts agree) while giving the Blue Devils zero chance. Expect that to soon change, though, assuming an official visit and offer from Duke become a reality before his announcement date.

"“It’s Duke, it’s Coach K, so it is what it is,” Watford said recently in an interview with USA Today’s Jason Jordan. “You definitely have to give Duke a shot because I know there’s a lot to offer there…“They really feel like I would be able to thrive in their system because I can do so many things. I like the idea of playing with other elite players; I feel like that makes me so much better. Look at what they did with their super-team this year.”"

But will Watford, who has proven to this writer’s eyeballs that he deserves to be among the top 10 in the 2019 class, look at Duke’s 2019-20 roster and see himself as part of what could develop into a super-team?

Well, that requires his first receiving an offer from Coach K and may also depend on a decision from the only current 2019 recruit holding an outstanding Duke offer: Matthew Hurt, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward who ranks No. 8, has scheduled his announcement date for April 19, the day before Watford’s planned announcement.

There may be room in Durham for both.

ALSO READ: Blue Devils may boast four McDonald’s All-Americans

Then again, Watford and/or Hurt may not see it that way.

As for which of the two would benefit the Blue Devils the most — with no respect to Hurt, who may have more offensive firepower than Watford but definitely trails in strength — keep in mind that rankings sometimes serve only as a guide for fools (after all, no major recruiting sites ranked Zion Williamson No. 1 in the 2018 class).

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