Duke Basketball: Crystal Ball now shows 2020 center opting for limelight

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

Experts recently picking the Duke basketball coaches to land one of the top 2020 centers will likely better their records as prognosticators if the prospect is seeking maximum exposure.

The recruitment of Duke basketball target Walker Kessler may come down to how many times he wants to play before a national TV audience.

Does the 2020 center with a No. 16 ranking on the 247Sports Composite want to slide into relative obscurity by following in the footsteps of his brother, father, and late uncle by playing for Georgia?

Does he want to play under the increasing spotlight at fresh-off-a-final-four Auburn?

Or does he want to appear on ESPN about as often as SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt by playing for Duke?

The 247Sports Crystal Ball, recently favoring Georgia for Kessler, suddenly shows coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff as the outright leaders in the race (56 percent of the picks compared to 33 percent for Georgia). Within the past five days, three experts — two from The Devils Den, 247Sports’ Duke site, and one from CatsPause, the Kentucky site — entered predictions pegging the 7-foot, 235-pound polished post player as a Blue Devil.

Although the Fairburn, Ga., native (he attends nearby Woodward Academy) has not officially named finalists for his five-star services, as reported this week by Rivals’ Nathan King, “Kessler named Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn when asked where his mind has been in terms of a commitment.”

However, fresh off a visit to Auburn over the weekend, Kessler suggested three top options exist in his mind and admitted playing for Tigers coach Bruce Pearl is one of them (based on the Crystal Ball and his positive remarks about the Duke staff, paired with his lifelong love for Georgia, one could assume being a Blue Devil or a Bulldog are his other two top options).

More from Ball Durham

Possibly a bad sign for Duke fans, though, was Kessler hinting the Crystal Ball may need to include many more picks for Auburn.

"“Auburn definitely has a shot, more than any other schools,” Kessler said, according to King. “They’re in my top three, probably because it’s so close to home and the appeal of Coach Pearl.”"

On the other hand, possibly a positive sign for Duke fans is the fact Kessler could all but wrap up a starting job for the Blue Devils simply by committing.

He is the only five-star big man holding a Duke offer (Coach K and Co. have extended an offer to four-star 7-footer Mark Williams, who ranks No. 46 on the composite). And the 2020-21 roster will include no returning centers or power forwards should five-star incoming freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt both decide to turn pro following next season (the eligibilities of Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson will have expired).

ALSO READ: Tobacco Road tussle underway for four-star 2020 center

If the Crystal Ball is correct with its current sights for Kessler’s future, then Duke fans will breathe easier before Christmas by knowing the Blue Devils won’t be lacking a legit stud in the paint the season after next. Kessler said his announcement should come in “probably October, maybe November.”

And if Kessler does take his talents to Durham, then Duke fans can expect to see a guy who has the necessary size, shooting touch, footwork, and basketball IQ to have a long NBA career — but a career he may not start until after multiple seasons in college.

If Duke fans are extremely lucky and one of Coach K’s latest player comparisons is at all accurate, then they will deduce Kessler must be a close relative to Christian Laettner.

ALSO READ: Staff uses bold comparison to lure Walker Kessler

Primary concerns facing Kessler are his mediocre athleticism, his need to live in a weight room, and his low release point on his outside shots.

Kessler and Williams are not the only recruits the Blue Devil coaches are hoping will help them reload after being left with potentially only a handful of returning players from the upcoming squad.

One commit is in the bag: five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, who ranks No. 15. And offers are also on the table to five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, who ranks No. 3; five-star small forward Scottie Barnes, who ranks No. 4; five-star small forward Cade Cunningham, who ranks No. 7; and five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston, who ranks No. 8.

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

Next. How long will Cam Reddish wait on draft night?. dark

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