Five-stars on Duke basketball’s radar advertise ‘package deal’ vision

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Bob Leverone/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Bob Leverone/Getty Images) /

Talks of two Duke basketball targets hoping to team up in college continue to pick up steam — thanks in large part to the prospects’ increasing commentary on the subject.

One possibility is O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero and Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler — both five-stars with offers from Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and piles of others — are intentionally fueling the chatter about their potentially choosing the same college solely in an effort to attract attention and thereby build their brands.

Another possibility is that Banchero (a 6-foot-9, 235-pound versatile freight train who ranks No. 3 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite) and Chandler (a 6-foot-1, 165-pound burst of energy and potent creator who ranks No. 15) genuinely do wish to be teammates for some undetermined — yet possibly already known — lucky program. It’s possible they don’t give a hoot who knows this shared vision.

Late Friday evening on Instagram, in reply to Banchero’s posted highlight video from his team’s recent trip to the City of Palms Classic in Florida, Chandler typed a clear message — “Package deal 🤫” — to which his buddy quickly wrote back, “yktv gang” (acronym means “you know the vibe”).

A few days earlier, in reply to Chandler’s posted mixtape from the same holiday tournament, it was Banchero who delivered the proposition — “yo bro we might as well team up 😏” — to which the peer he apparently gelled with most during a Team USA minicamp over the summer answered, “might as well 🤷‍♂️.”

Naturally, all these messages and the fact Banchero has retweeted Chandler’s announcements of his two latest blue-blood offers — Duke on Dec. 10 and Kentucky on Christmas Day — have given goosebumps to fans from both Durham and Lexington.

Banchero, who took official visits to the two powerhouses in October, has already trimmed his list of suitors to nine: Duke, Kentucky, UNC, Tennessee, Memphis, Georgetown, Baylor, Gonzaga, and Washington. While Washington is both his parents’ alma mater and the leader inside his Crystal Ball, the Huskies have not extended an offer to his potential running mate, Chandler.

Those from Banchero’s list that have entered the race for Chandler are Duke, Kentucky, UNC, Tennessee, and Memphis. Chandler had already taken or scheduled all five of his allotted official visits for the current school year prior to receiving his blue-blood offers; however, he took an unofficial visit to Lexington in the fall and now plans to travel to Durham the weekend of Jan. 18 and to Chapel Hill on Feb. 8.

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Chandler’s Crystal Ball remains void of any predictions. Neither Chandler — who has tagged Duke “a dream school” — nor Banchero has indicated a rush to decide on a destination. For now, they both seem to be enjoying the excitement that all their posts and comments about a potential two-for-one deal are stirring.

For some Duke basketball fans, the pair is already stirring up delightful memories of a package of two five-star friends, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, who arrived as Blue Devils in 2014 and formed an inside-out duo that worked out perfectly for the program by April 2015.

Duke’s 2021 haul currently consists of a commitment from the nation’s only five-star off the board in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) small forward A.J. Griffin.

The other top Duke basketball targets from the class 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.

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