Duke basketball staff sends serious message to five-star forward

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

A Duke basketball sighting in the Empire State shows where a chunk of the program’s recruiting focus is at the moment.

Scheduling influenced trips on the first day of the recruiting/contact period. But priority-level was obviously another factor. So during a Monday scrimmage at his high school, Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) small forward A.J. Griffin must’ve seen the significance of his main audience being Duke basketball’s longest-tenured coaches: chief of staff Mike Krzyzewski, right-hand man Jon Scheyer, and 11th-year assistant Nate James.

ALSO READ: Blue Devils cannot afford to lose Jon Scheyer

Plus, as insider Adam Zagoria deduced in a tweet, the Durham posse’s choice to kick things off by visiting the 6-foot-7, 215-pound five-star sent a message of confidence out into the recruiting universe:

"“Duke already has [five-star small forward] Jalen Johnson and [five-star point guard] Jeremy Roach for 2020, so they’re making a statement by watching a junior the first day they can go on the road.”"

Back in June, Griffin, who sits at No. 10 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite and is the namesake of former NBA journeyman Adrian Griffin, made a statement of his own by becoming only the second player from his class to receive a Duke offer. (Five-star small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. was the first; now, five-star power forward Paolo Banchero, five-star small forward Jonathan Kuminga, and five-star shooting guard Max Christie round out the list.)

ALSO READ: A.J. Griffin treasures early offer from Blue Devils

If the special attention from Coach K and his cohorts results in a commitment from Griffin — the one pick to date inside his Crystal Ball says it will — then the Blue Devils stand to benefit immensely from his natural playmaking and elite defense, even if only for a season before he turns pro.

Griffin, who fueled a gold-medal performance by Team USA at this summer’s FIBA U16 Americas Championship, boasts a longer and stronger frame than most of his peers, allowing him to assert his will when attacking the basket.

Also, to go along with an Energizer Bunny playing style, the 16-year-old has the necessary springs under his feet to beat opposing guards from Point A to Point B and to rise high enough to get his silky jump shot off against taller opponents.

As is the case for a majority of 2021 talents, Griffin does not appear to be anywhere near making a decision as to where he’ll play his college ball or even deciding upon a list of finalists. Currently, he holds offers from 13 schools.

One of those schools is Pitt. Interestingly enough, former Duke player and assistant Jeff Capel, who is now entering his second season as the Panthers’ head honcho, was sitting beside Krzyzewski to watch Griffin — as well as four-star combo guard R.J. Davis, one of Pitt’s top 2020 targets.

With Griffin evidently at or near the center of the Duke basketball radar, though, Capel’s pursuit is likely futile.

ALSO READ: Blue Devils may hold cards for No. 1 prospect

UPDATE: According to a Monday evening article from Zagoria, Griffin is now planning to visit Duke for Countdown to Craziness (Oct. 18).

Trending. The 100 greatest Duke basketball players under Coach K. light

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