Duke basketball: Blue Devils add tantalizing five-star to targets

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

One of the few top-shelf juniors still without a Duke basketball offer is now at least catching the eye of the recruiters from Durham.

On Monday, Sandy Creek (Ga.) five-star Jabari Smith Jr. became the latest prospect to attract the Duke basketball staff to his high school, per 247Sports’ John Watson. The 6-foot-9, 190-pound power forward, who ranks No. 5 on the 2021 Composite, is not the first from his bloodline to wear the “potential megastar” tag.

Sure, Smith’s namesake was a force down low for LSU (1998-00) and a second-round pick who lasted five years in the league. But his dad’s cousin is the guy who drew enough hype as a prep to fool Michael Jordan into taking him first overall at the 2001 NBA Draft — yes, Kwame Brown, the 6-foot-11 center who was ill-prepared for the big show and subsequently represented one of the top arguments for the one-and-done rule.

Of course, when pondering whether or not to extend an offer to Smith, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is surely far more concerned with the wiry 16-year-old’s current skill set and demeanor than a distant relative’s past shortcomings.

Versatility, intensity, go-go-gadget arms, and a knack for turning garbage in the paint into buckets are Smith’s noticeable strengths. Across the USA U16 National Team’s gold-medal run at the FIBA Americas Championship in June, he shot 54.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc on his way to averaging 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 17.8 minutes per game.

If Coach K and his assistants soon decide to invite Smith to become a Blue Devil, then they’ll have an opportunity to get a leg up on the future big-name suitors likely heading his way. Surprisingly, Smith still holds less than a dozen offers — none of the blue-blood variety — which is about half the count of his fellow top-five 2021 talents.

The Blue Devils have already given offers to the three highest-ranked of said talents: small forward Jonathan Kuminga, small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., and power forward Paolo Banchero, respectively. The only other two 2021 recruits with Duke offers at the moment are five-star small forward A.J. Griffin, who ranks No. 8, and five-star shooting guard Max Christie, who ranks No. 14.

ALSO READ: Duke faces a decisive recruiting battle against Kentucky

Like Smith, center Chet Holmgren, the No. 4 player in the class, is also working his way to the center of the Blue Devils’ radar. And five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler, who sits at No. 16, is another name to watch moving forward.

ALSO READ: Coach K must offer 7-foot marvel, pronto

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.