Duke Basketball: Versatile 2021 PF enters Blue Devil radar

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball coaches have taken notice of a rising-junior big man with a wide array of tools and the potential to shine at any level.

Assuming Duke basketball target Paolo Banchero continues on the upward path from the first half of his high school career, the rhythm and flow of his name alone will benefit his name-recognition in college and then his marketability in the NBA.

One reason for assuming the five-star 2021 power forward will reach the NBA — likely after only one year in college — is his rhythm and flow on the hardwood adding a multidimensional element to his 6-foot-9, 235-pound frame.

The native of Seattle (O’Dea High School) with a No. 6 composite ranking already possesses the skills, strength, and smarts to play center or either forward. And per a tweet from Rivals’ Clint Jackson, his versatile game earned him a call from the Blue Devil staff on Saturday — the first date college coaches could contact rising juniors by phone.

Yet a Duke offer has not yet come his way.

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Should coach Mike Krzyzewski and his assistants decide to enter the fray, the assumed leader for Banchero’s services presents three notable obstacles:

  1. Washington is about 3,000 miles closer to home than Durham.
  2. Washington coach Mike Hopkins, one of at least seven to have extended Banchero an offer, is a hot name on the recruiting trail who snatched 2019 center Isaiah Stewart from Krzyzewski.
  3. Washington is the alma mater of both his father Mario, a former tight end for the Huskies, and mother Rhonda Smith, who once held the all-time scoring record for the women’s basketball program.

Despite the hurdles the Blue Devils would face, their phone call proves significant interest on their part.

And the eye test says, barring Banchero expressing zero interest in joining #TheBrotherhood, a Duke offer should soon be on the way.

  • His size, instincts, and effortless liftoffs make him a beast on the boards.
  • His spectators marvel at his motor on both ends.
  • His teammates seem to have no trouble finding him in transition due to his impressive speed for a big man.
  • His vision and stylish passes keep his teammates happy.
  • His finesse and touch around the basket optimize his touches.
  • His only weapon missing from his arsenal is a reliable 3-point shot — he does, however, seem to have a smooth stroke from anywhere within a 15-foot radius of the basket.

Although not a spitting image, Banchero appears to possess many of the same attributes as former one-and-done Blue Devil Marvin Bagley III.

If nothing else, the 16-year-old has a fun name worth remembering as Coach K and Co.’s 2021 pursuits progress.

Another 2021 target who reportedly received a phone call from the Duke staff on Saturday — but also without an offer at the moment — is five-star shooting guard Terrence Clarke, who ranks No. 2 on the composite and has said a Duke offer is one he wouldn’t mind adding to his list.

ALSO READ: Five-star 2021 SG Terrence Clarke hungry for offers

The only two 2021 prospects holding Duke offers are five-star small forwards Patrick Baldwin Jr., who holds the top spot on the composite and received his offer nearly a year ago, and A.J. Griffin, who ranks No. 10 and received his offer over the phone on Saturday.

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