Duke Basketball: Durham has ample airspace for 2019 G Cassius Stanley

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

A shortage of gravity-defying athletes on next season’s Duke basketball roster is a concern Cassius Stanley would alleviate with a verbal commitment Saturday.

Never again will a 280-pound unexplainable flying object reach Cameron Indoor Stadium’s exosphere. No, Zion Williamson is now a — break out the box of tissues — former Duke basketball player.

However, a 180-pound undeniable flying object may spend next season bedazzling Cameron Crazies by soaring above the rim and from great distances. Yes, Cassius Stanley may announce Saturday his new title as a — break out the good luck charms — future Blue Devil.

More from Ball Durham

UPDATE: Stanley tweeted hours after this article’s publishing his decision to postpone his announcement until Monday.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard — he would be 20 years old by the start of the season and is potentially another one-and-done player — would offer, for starters, a high-flying target for Tre Jones.

After mastering his alley-oop tosses last season by regularly practicing on fellow freshmen Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish — all three superb athletes are now officially off to the NBA —  a sophomore Jones having to severely limit his passes to midair teammates would be a beautiful skill gone to waste.

Without Stanley, a vicious finisher, on next season’s roster, though, such an injustice would likely take place.

Without Stanley, the Blue Devils’ top leaper would likely either be junior guard Alex O’Connell, a serviceable sharpshooter with bounce but whose weakness is his puniness, or freshman forward Wendell Moore, a five-star signee who ranks No. 22 on the 247Sports Composite but whose game contains more substance than flash.

Vernon Carey Jr., a five-star center who ranks No. 3 and will likely join Moore and Jones in the starting lineup, has sufficient power to intimidate opponents when flushing home alley-oops; on the other hand, his vertical leap and wingspan aren’t exactly out of this world.

Matthew Hurt, a five-star power forward who is also likely to be a starter should he don Duke gear at his announcement ceremony Friday, also has the ability to finish at the rim; rim-rocking dunking, however, is far from his specialty.

ALSO READ: 2019 PF Matthew Hurt shuts down recruitment

Joey Baker, who will be a sophomore wing for the Blue Devils after playing only 18 total minutes as a freshman, is another whose aerial acts cause few jaws to drop.

As for the three senior big men — assuming Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, and Jack White all return — each has proved capable of pulling off marginally impressive slams and blocks; all three, though, lack the necessary athleticism and star power to force opponents to lose sleep.

Boogie Ellis, a four-star combo guard who is the lowest-ranked incoming talent at No. 34, has star potential and is certainly able to get off the ground — but not like Stanley.

Stanley, who ranks No. 29 and, like Ellis, hails from California, seems to be the uber-athletic piece next season’s Blue Devils need in order to be among the top title contenders.

In terms of past Duke basketball players who possessed similar attributes to those of Stanley, two names stick out: Corey Maggette and Gerald Henderson.

Like Maggette and Henderson, Stanley is a fly-in-from-out-of-nowhere nightmare for opponents — and not just on backdoor or fastbreak alley-oops. He’s sure to pull off putback dunks and blocks beyond most players’ wildest dreams.

Like Williamson, Stanley has long wowed YouTube viewers:

Granted, Stanley is not going to leave spectators wondering what planet he is from the same way Williamson does — no one ever will. But he could leave Duke on the short list of the program’s all-time showmen in the air while surprising many with a shooting stroke he’s improved considerably within the last year; also, with his gift for passing and handling the rock, he has shown, at least at the high school level, worthy of running the point when necessary.

First, obviously, Stanley must commit to becoming a Blue Devil. Despite only recently adding Duke to what was his final list of three — Kansas, UCLA, and Oregon — the 247Sports Crystal Ball now predicts (with 53 percent of the experts in agreement) he will end up in Durham.

Stanley took an official visit to Duke over the weekend. According to 247Sports, he picked up an offer from coach Mike Krzyzewski prior to his visit.

Surely, he recognizes the available airspace in Durham next season and the potential for plenty of playing time — for a program that draws more viewers than any other every season. All he would have to do is prove able to fill that air and those minutes with aerial stunts capable of helping ease fans’ despair from never again being able to watch Zion own the air as a Blue Devil.

Next. Which franchises are the best matches for Zion?. dark

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