Duke Basketball: Class of 2019 rankings appear to have ulterior motive

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Due to some suspicious final rankings, the Duke basketball coaches no longer possess the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for 2019.

Decades ago, Bob Gibbons, a North Carolina native who passed away in 2006 and was the most popular pre-Internet source for rankings of high school hoopsters, consistently unleashed punishment — or so it seemed — on recruits who signed with the Duke basketball program by dropping them in his final rankings.

Essentially, signing with Duke all but guaranteed one’s nosedive in his rankings.

Gibbons’ legendary Duke-hate tendencies seem to live on in the present through 247Sports.

On Monday, the king of recruiting sites unveiled its final ranking for the 2019 class.

Talk about an eyesore for Blue Devil fans.

Vernon Carey Jr. — a five-star behemoth of a center who outranks Duke’s other three 2019 signees — fell from No. 4 to No. 6 on the Top247 (the site’s own ranking) but managed to remain at No. 4 on the 247Sports Composite (takes into account all major recruiting sites’ rankings and determines the 247Sports Team Ranking — more on that at the end of this article).

Matthew Hurt — a five-star power forward who may prove to be enough of a scoring wizard from inside and out to lead next season’s Duke squad in scoring — dropped a whopping six spots to No. 16 on the Top247, dinging his composite ranking by three spots to No. 12.

Wait, the apparent Duke-hate becomes far more glaring.

Wendell Moore — a small forward who is a five-star according to the composite ranking but now only a four-star on the Top247 despite seeming to be the top team-player during the McDonald’s All-American Game and several other high-profile exhibitions this spring — saw his Top247 ranking freefall six spots to No. 37, knocking his composite ranking down five spots to No. 30.

Finally, Cassius Stanley — a four-star shooting guard who was the last to commit to Duke and has recently shown off an improved outside shot, not to mention a mesmerizing leaping ability that makes him a human highlight reel — plunged four spots to No. 34 on the Top247, sliding him from No. 31 to No. 33 on the composite ranking.

Now, here’s the kicker:

Due to the collective dropping of future Dukies on the composite ranking — despite the Blue Devil signees still having the highest average rating in the country at 99.33 — head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are now one-hundredth of a point shy from having what would have been their fourth consecutive No. 1 class.

Yes, one-hundredth of a point is all that separates Arizona’s 2019 class, the new No. 1 with a 69.44 composite rating, from Duke, which now sits at No. 2 with a 69.43 rating.

Seriously? 69.44 to 69.43? Really?

Who honestly believes this slimmest of margins is a coincidence?

The numbers sure seem to suggest, at least in the eyes of this lifelong Duke fan, someone at 247Sports — must be a Duke-hater and/or relative of Gibbons — did the math and made sure Duke’s signees fell just far enough on the Top247 to remove the Blue Devils’ class from the top spot.

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Sure, Coach K and Co. are partially to blame for losing out on the top spot by not doing enough to persuade Boogie Ellis — a four-star combo guard who now ranks ahead of both Moore and Stanley on the Top247 at No. 32 — from decommitting last week.

Ironically, though, Duke fans may owe 247Sports thanks:

High school rankings can impact future mock drafts; therefore, the likelihood of one or more of the 2019 Blue Devil signees staying in Durham for more than one season may have just increased.

Also on the rise could be the Blue Devil signees’ motivation — while donning Duke jerseys together beginning in November — to make fools of their detractors.

Closing note: The final Top247 for the 2018 class had Zion Williamson at No. 7, damning evidence that these rankings are often of no use other than for a laugh.

Next. Package deal for Duke in 2020?. dark

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