Duke basketball recruiting races regularly involve competition from Lexington, and the latest one may be as crucial as any considering a two-for-one is a possibility.
Recent visits suggested it was only a matter of time, but now it’s official: Kentucky’s John Calipari has extended an offer to the point guard atop the 2021 wishlist of Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
While the nation’s two top recruiters, owners of all but one of this decade’s No. 1 classes, have squared off for higher-ranked backcourt leaders in the past — John Wall and Kyrie Irving highlight the list — the battle for Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) junior Kennedy Chandler, who ranks No. 15 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite, could prove even more significant.
First, pictures within Chandler’s tweeted announcements of his offers from both blue-bloods — the one from Duke arrived 15 days prior to Kentucky’s on Christmas Day — shows the 6-foot-1, 165-pound five-star appreciates both programs’ past prowess at landing legendary floor generals.
Here’s Chandler’s tweet about what he has called a “dream school”:
Now, here’s Chandler’s tweet about Kentucky:
Chandler, who seems to lack just a sliver of the stellar speed Irving and Wall enjoy but displays a similar attacking style and confidence, has repeatedly expressed interest in joining forces at the college level with O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero.
And Banchero, who ranks No. 3 and has also gushed over the bond he and Chandler forged at a Team USA minicamp over the summer, has both Duke and Kentucky among his favorites. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound five-star, who is a versatile big man resembling a bouncier version of former one-and-done Blue Devil Jabari Parker, retweeted both of the above tweets from Chandler.
In addition to Duke and Kentucky, the other three schools to have both delivered an offer to Chandler and landed on Banchero’s top nine are UNC, Tennessee, and Memphis. In other words, one could assume those five are the frontrunners to possibly reel in the coveted duo.
Though neither prospect has expressed any rush to decide on a college — Chandler has yet to even trim his list of suitors — both have either taken or scheduled all five of their allotted official visits for the current school year.
Chandler — who was at Tennessee, Syracuse, and Ole Miss in the fall and also has official visits on tap for February to Florida State and Michigan — took an unofficial visit to Kentucky in October and plans to be in Cameron Indoor Stadium when Duke hosts Louisville on Jan. 18 (he has also set up an unofficial visit to UNC that coincides with the Tar Heels’ home game against the Blue Devils on Feb. 8).
Meanwhile, Banchero took official visits to Kentucky and Duke on back-to-back weekends in October. One weekend later, he joined Chandler on an official visit to Tennessee. He was at UNC in September and plans to take his final official visit of the year to Gonzaga in January.
Other 2021 recruits holding unanswered Duke basketball offers are Rolling Meadows (Ill.) five-star shooting guard Max Christie, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) four-star shooting guard Trevor Keels, The Patrick School (N.J.) five-star small forward Jonathan Kuminga, Hamilton (Wis.) five-star small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., and Andrews Osborne Academy (Ohio) four-star center Charles Bediako.
Krzyzewski and his staff currently boast the nation’s only commitment from a five-star junior in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) small forward A.J. Griffin.