Duke Basketball: Answering who is best among Coach K’s 2020 targets

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Recently updated 2020 rankings do not provide a clear-cut answer, so Ball Durham is stepping in to settle the debate: Who is the best Duke basketball target at the moment?

Ranking recruits is not an exact science. If it was, former Duke basketball UFO Zion Williamson would have been the unanimous No. 1 prospect from the 2019 class (one ranking inexcusably had him as low as No. 7).

Basketball is an art form, meaning a player’s on-court beauty is in the eye of the beholder (that being said, it’s unfathomable for anyone to have not instantly realized the unparalleled beauty of a 285-pound unexplainable flying object with guard-like speed, linebacker-like fire in the belly, and superhero-like strength).

More from Ball Durham

The latest examples of how one set of “expert” eyeballs can judge ballers differently from another set came in the form of updated rankings this week from the two juggernauts of recruiting sites: 247Sports and Rivals.

First, a look at the two updated rankings of Duke’s lone 2020 commitment — five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, who verbally joined #TheBrotherhood four weeks ago — provides further evidence supporting the notion that a surefire way to take a nosedive on rankings is to commit to Duke.

ALSO READ: Class of 2019 rankings appear to have an ulterior motive

Roach, known as a pass-first floor general and gritty defender but who hasn’t seen any action since suffering a torn ACL in November, fell four spots to No. 20 on the Rivals150 and three spots to No. 17 on the Top247. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Fairfax, Va., native is now No. 16 on the 247Sports Composite (which factors in a handful of sites’ rankings).

As for Roach’s potential teammates — i.e., those who hold Duke offers — center Mark Williams still owns the lowest rankings among them. But the four-star 7-footer’s movements in opposite directions on the Top247 (up 17 spots to No. 35) and Rivals150 (down 11 spots to No. 51) indicates the jury is still out on the Norfolk, Va., native’s potential to shine at the college level (his composite ranking rose two spots to No. 44).

Speaking of 7-footers, the jury also still seems to be out for fellow Duke target in the paint Walker Kessler, a five-star 7-footer from Georgia who saw his composite ranking rise one spot to No. 15 (he stayed put at No. 12 on the Top247 but dropped nine spots to No. 18 on the Rivals150).

Looking further up on the rankings, fellow five-star B.J. Boston — a lengthy specimen and lethal shooter who aptly plays shooting guard — fell to No. 11 from No. 8 on the composite after dropping four spots to No. 15 on the Top247 and rising one to No. 7 on the Rivals150.

Now for those Duke targets who are in both sites’ top 10.

The biggest riser is also the latest to receive a Duke offer: five-star small forward Cade Cunningham. After drawing heavy praise in recent weeks due to his dominance at Nike EYBL events, the poised playmaker — who has the handles and vision to play point guard if necessary — is now up to No. 6 on the composite after not even being in the top 30 less than two years ago.

ALSO READ: Five-star 2020 SF Cade Cunningham drops his first list

In the eyes of the Top247, Cunningham is the best among Duke’s targets with his five-spot rise to a No. 3 ranking.  He also had a significant jump on the Rivals150 — from No. 11 to No. 5 — but still sits below two other Duke targets on that ranking.

And both of those targets are also small forwards.

One is Scottie Barnes, a powerful figure on the hardwood with the potential to play any position. According to the new No. 3 composite ranking for the former teammate of 2019 Duke signee Vernon Carey Jr. at University School in Fort Lauderdale, Barnes somehow took over the title as the best Duke target despite staying at No. 5 on the Top247 and falling one spot to No. 4 on the Rivals150.

The third small forward Duke is pursuing is Jalen Johnson, who has a frame and game drawing comparisons to former Duke greats such as Grant Hill and Jayson Tatum.

Prior to the unveiling of the updated rankings, Johnson ranked above all other Blue Devil targets on almost every major ranking. For some unknown reason, though, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Wisconsin native dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 on the Top247. However, his two-spot rise to No. 3 on the Rivals150 minimized his drop on the composite: from No. 3 to No. 4.

So there is no consensus to which Duke target is best. The answer obviously depends on who answers.

But if forced to choose the best, Ball Durham’s eyeballs would see the title still going to Johnson — due to his confidence level seeming years beyond any of his peers.

In conclusion, though, this site greedily and unapologetically wants them all to be Dukies.

Next. New type of showman heading to Durham. dark

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