Must-have giant praises Duke basketball staff after cutting list

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

A key Duke basketball target spoke about his trust in the game’s all-time winningest coach following the announcement of his six finalists.

The Duke basketball staff has made Walker Kessler a priority for months.

Now, with only months until his expected fall announcement, all Mike Krzyzewski and his cohorts must do is convince the five-star 2020 center out of Woodward Academy in Fairburn, Ga., that their program is a better fit for him than the rest of the final six he named to Rivals on Friday: Cal, UNC, Auburn, Gonzaga, and Michigan.

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The Blue Devils’ heavy efforts to date — likely no returning bigs will be on their 2020-21 roster — have not gone unnoticed to Kessler.

"“Duke has, out of the bluebloods, recruited me the hardest, and Coach K has said he really believes in me,” Kessler told Rivals’ Dan McDonald. “Coming from one of the top college basketball coaches, that means a lot.”"

The 7-foot, 235-pounder, who ranks No. 16 on the 247Sports Composite with a game at least somewhat reminiscent of Duke basketball legend Christian Laettner, also pointed out his faith in the coaches from Durham to get the most out of his game.

"“With Duke, they always change their style of play depending on the players they have,” added Kessler, who has mastered fundamentals in the paint, in transition, and from the perimeter but lacks the freakish length and athleticism to boast a top 10 ranking, . “I trust that they would find a way to make it work.”"

The Blue Devils are in an enviable position to work out a way to land Kessler, at least according to the Crystal Ball (70 percent of the experts are predicting Duke at the moment).

Of some surprise, though, is the absence of Georgia on the sweet-stroke big man’s final list. After all, his dad, uncle, and older brother all played their college ball in Athens.

As for when Kessler will decide where he’ll play his college ball, all he has said is he plans to sign in November after taking visits during the fall to all six of the schools that made his cut (the only unofficial visit will be to Auburn, which is only a short drive from his home; his first official visit to Duke came in early February).

If Kessler becomes the next Duke commit, then he would join a class already sporting the only two top 20 five-stars in the nation to have picked a school: small forward Jalen Johnson and point guard Jeremy Roach.

Coach K and Co. also have outstanding offers to five-star point forward Cade Cunningham, five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston, four-star center Mark Williams, four-star power forward Henry Coleman, and four-star combo guard D.J. Steward.

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