Duke Basketball: Potential prize of 2020 class hosts entire Blue Devil staff

Duke basketball coaches (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Duke basketball coaches (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball coaches, who have landed enough 2019 recruits to now focus most of their attention on the class of 2020, visited the home of a tantalizingly talented 2020 target on Monday night.

The five of them — four coaches and a teenager they hope to welcome with open arms into the Duke basketball family — stood together for the photo with all smiles and their shoes off while forming a chain with arms wrapped around one another’s shoulders.

If a picture truly tells a thousand words, then the one Jalen Johnson tweeted out on Monday night — shortly after his family hosted head coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Jon Scheyer, Nate James, and Chris Carrawell — says the Duke staff’s thousand-mile trip from Durham to the Johnsons’ Wisconsin home was not in vain.


Coach K and Co.’s recruitment of the five-star 2020 small forward, who ranks No. 3 overall in his class on the 247Sports Composite but is admittedly No. 1 in his own mind, is not yet in its late stages; however, it’s not in the early stages either.

Johnson has held a Duke offer for almost a year and is planning, as he recently told Rivals’ Eric Bossi, to make his college decision in time for the fall signing period in November.

"“I want to get a decision by the first signing period, so November, around that time,” Johnson said. “It’s just about having a big plan for me. Once I hit campus, I want to feel like I’m at home because I’m kind of a home guy. So feeling the comfort and having the ability to make an impact is something.”"

During the same interview, in what was either a coincidence or an expression of subconscious feelings, Johnson talked about all six of the schools he has visited during his junior year — only half were official visits — but only used the word “home” when describing his official visit last October to Duke.

"“It was a good visit, and they made me feel like I was at home,” said Johnson, who during his visit was in attendance for Countdown to Craziness alongside another of Duke’s top 2020 targets, five-star combo guard B.J. Boston, who ranks No. 9 on the composite. “The fans chanted my name. And being able to spend time with the players and see what it’s like there was big.“Plus, the plan they have for me, that’s big. When I was with [Krzyzewski], he basically told me how he can develop me and how I could have an immediate impact and be one of the best players right away.”"

That last part is an undeniable fact.

The fact of the matter is the 2020-21 season, though obviously still a ways away, will look bleak for the Blue Devils — it’s possible as few as four players from next season’s Duke roster will return to be a part of it — until a couple of big names from the 2020 class commit to becoming Blue Devils.

Johnson, who attends Nicolet High School in Milwaukee and has a mature demeanor bringing to mind two former Duke greats whose jersey numbers both hang from Cameron Indoor Stadium’s rafters, would serve as an ideal spark and anchor for the Blue Devils’ 2020 class.

Though any sort of comparisons to Grant Hill and Shane Battier are lofty, Johnson appears every bit worthy.

His commanding presence on the court is clearly visible every time he plays. His passes make it seem as if he’s a draft-ready quarterback. His post moves make it seem as if he’s spent countless hours studying the NBA’s all-time greatest power forwards.

His confident handles — it’s difficult to tell whether he’s a righty of lefty until he gives it away with his smooth righty stroke from the outside — are seemingly undisruptable.

While his hops are at least an eight on a scale of one to ten, his frequent dunks are more a display of pure strength than unnecessary flash.

His instincts are probably his greatest strength, particularly on offense. And if he can improve upon his use of those instincts when on the defensive end, he will be deserving of being placed on the short list of the most complete players to come out of high school in recent years.

Hopefully for Duke fans, by the time Krzyzewski and his staff complete their recruiting effort, Johnson will recognize joining #TheBrotherhood is the best way for him to feel most at home in college.

Of the seven experts at the 247Sports Crystal Ball who have entered picks for what will be Johnson’s college home, five see him ending up at Duke — the other two see him staying close to home by playing for Wisconsin. That being said, and despite him cutting his list to 15 schools back in October, he tweeted last week that his recruitment is “WIDE OPEN.”

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Johnson is the highest ranked of the six 2020 recruits holding a Duke offer. The others with offers from Coach K are Boston; small forward Scottie Barnes, who ranks No. 4; combo guard R.J. Hampton, who ranks No. 5 but seems likely to reclassify to 2019 and end up somewhere other than in Durham; center Walker Kessler, who ranks No. 16; and point guard Jeremy Roach, who ranks No. 17.

ALSO READ: Staff uses bold comparison to lure 2020 C Walker Kessler

The Blue Devils do not yet have a 2020 commitment; no worries yet, though, for Duke’s 2019 class did not contain a single commitment until last October and now sits at No. 1 in the country.

ALSO READ: Cassius Stanley commits as Coach K crushes peers

But if the Blue Devils are to experience their program standard for success the season after next, the coaches may need to extend by yet another year their streak of snagging the nation’s top class, which now sits at four years and would be five with the 2020 class.

Such a feat may only be possible, though, with Johnson as the top prize of the class.

Related Story. 10 names to know as Duke eyes historic 2020 class. light

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