A former Duke basketball player might possess at least a speck of influence over where the nation’s top high school junior plays in college.
By sending assistants Nate James and Chris Carrawell to watch The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga at the John Wall Invitational in Raleigh on Saturday night, Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski suggested his interest in the No. 1 prospect on the 247Sports 2021 Composite hasn’t waned a bit.
Of course, the other nine finalists Kuminga named one day after being inside Madison Square Garden for Duke’s season-opening win over Kansas in November — Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech, and Washington — also figure to have a say about the 6-foot-9, 220-pound five-star’s destination.
But the staff in Durham may hold an advantage in the race: Duke basketball alum Kyrie Irving. As the No. 2 prospect on the 247Sports 2010 Composite, the lightning point guard — who wound up playing only 11 games as a Blue Devil due to a toe injury in his lone season before going No. 1 at the 2011 NBA Draft — attended St. Patrick High School, which closed its doors in 2012 but inspired the opening of the school Kuminga transferred to this year.
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And Irving, per recruiting insider Adam Zagoria, has not only met Kuminga, but the current Brooklyn Nets star is also “heavily involved with The Patrick School and recently helped run a two-hour practice” there.
“He’s been helping on everything,” Kuminga recently pointed out to Zagoria about Irving. “He really comes here and motivates us, tell us we gotta do this, what’s right for us. That’s pretty much what he’s been saying, and helping us on everything.”
Reading into Kuminga’s statements, it seems plausible Irving could to some degree help sway the Congo native — a do-anything intense competitor who has neither scheduled any official visits nor given any hints to his recruitment outside of listing finalists — to join #TheBrotherhood.
Also plausible is Kuminga — who turned 17 in October and has not ruled out a reclass but doesn’t intend to make up his mind until summer — arriving at Duke alongside Krzyzewski’s already six-deep 2020 haul: Paul VI Catholic (Va.) point guard Jeremy Roach, Whitney Young (Ill.) combo guard D.J. Steward, IMG Academy (Fla.) small forward Jalen Johnson, Trinity Episcopal (Va.) power forward Henry Coleman, Huntington Prep (W.Va.) power forward Jaemyn Brakefield, and IMG center Mark Williams.
Finally, according to his chat with Zagoria, here’s the advice Kuminga has been receiving from Irving: “Keep my circle small, listen to the right people, and just keep doing my thing.”
Duke fans have every right to dream Kuminga will do his thing as a Blue Devil — either next season or the season after next — and that “the right people” to listen to include Irving now and Krzyzewski down the road.