Duke basketball may hold cards for No. 1 prospect

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

In the eyes of a national recruiting analyst, a rare talent appears to have eyes for the Duke basketball program.

It’s easy to spot the many parallels — on and off the court — between The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga and former one-and-done Duke basketball small forward Luol Deng.

The 247Sports 2021 Composite’s No. 1 prospect was born in the Congo, a neighbor to what is now South Sudan, the birthplace of 2003’s No. 1 not-named-LeBron high schooler. Also, Kuminga and Deng each earned a lofty ranking with a stretched-out, 6-foot-9 frame; an abbreviated, soft shot; a shoulders-square, attacking driving style; and a relaxed sense of confidence (Kuminga does appear to have a tad more bounce than Deng).

Rivals’ Corey Evans believes Kuminga, who picked up an offer from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski in mid-July, will eventually share another similarity to Deng: being a Blue Devil.

"“I think he’s really intrigued by Duke,” Evans said of Kuminga in his chat this week with the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts. “I think he really likes the idea of going to Duke and what Duke is all about. But, it’s the same thing — he’s in no rush. He’s going to play things out and take some visits.“But I do think Duke is on good footing there.”"

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According to recruiting insider Adam Zagoria, the Blue Devils are looking for Kuminga’s feet to land in Durham as soon as possible.

"“I’m told Coach K would really like [Jonathan Kuminga] to reclass and come to Duke for 2020,” Zagoria wrote in an August tweet."

Kuminga, who is also at the center of Kentucky’s radar, will be 17 in a month. So if he was to reclass and choose Duke, he’d be one of the nation’s youngest freshmen (Proof time flies: Kuminga was born in the fall of 2002, within a month of Deng’s commitment to Duke).

Of course, there are those who believe he’s destined to be the No. 1 freshman in the country no matter if he enters college a year from now or the year after that.

"“[Kuminga] is the best player in the country,” a high-major assistant reportedly told Zagoria in July, soon after Kuminga averaged 27.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 steals at Peach Jam.“I don’t think there’s any debate.”"

Kuminga has neither scheduled visits, named finalists, nor offered a timeline for his decision. If he does move up a grade and commit to Duke, he’d join a class that already includes a five-star small forward, Jalen Johnson. Furthermore, Coach K has an offer out to five-star small forward Ziaire Williams.

Of course, the thought of three five-star forwards on the same Duke squad wouldn’t exactly be a novel idea.

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