Duke basketball recruiting: Coach Cal answers Coach K’s power move

Duke basketball recruiting foe and Kentucky head coach John Calipari (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball recruiting foe and Kentucky head coach John Calipari (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Wherever Duke basketball recruiters roam, chances are Kentucky’s staff is nearby — as is the case in their chase for one coveted reclass candidate.

The prize at stake is The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, who has not ruled out early graduation but currently sits as the No. 1 prospect on the 247Sports 2021 Composite. The two favorites? Well, if the 2010s are any indication of the 2020s, the answer must be the Duke basketball recruiting machine and its Kentucky foe (combined for all but one of the nation’s past 10 No. 1 classes).

As for evidence specific to Kuminga, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound five-star keeps relatively mum about his thoughts on any suitors; however, possible hints exist.

One day after checking out both the Blue Devils and Wildcats in person at the Champions Classic on Nov. 5, Kuminga announced 10 finalists: Duke, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech, and Washington.

And recent travels to Kuminga’s whereabouts by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipari suggest both head coaches are now hot on the trail of the Congo native who displays elite hops, speed, strength, length, versatility, and intensity (one could describe him as a more athletic and potentially more potent version of former Duke basketball one-and-done Luol Deng).

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On New Year’s Day, two days after Coach K flexed by bringing along a busload of assistants and current players to watch Kuminga at the John Wall Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, Coach Cal dropped in to see him at the Playaz New Year’s Jump Off in New Jersey, per recruiting insider Pat Lawless.

Stock Risers’ Jake Weingarten reported that the trip marks Calipari’s first to check in on the 17-year-old in more than two months. Obviously, the timing makes the visit smell to some extent like a reaction to the move from Krzyzewski and Co.

Thus far, Kuminga has neither scheduled any official visits nor locked in a timeframe for deciding on either a reclass or a college. Rather, he has repeatedly claimed to be far more concerned with the present than the future — at least until after the season. Meanwhile, though, he must be paying at least some attention to which one of the big-name coaches — i.e., Krzyzewski or Calipari — is paying him the most attention.

ALSO READ: Duke receiving help in recruiting Jonathan Kuminga?

The other 2021 Duke basketball offers on the table at the moment are to Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler, Rolling Meadows (Ill.) five-star shooting guard Max Christie, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) four-star shooting guard Trevor Keels, Hamilton (Wis.) five-star small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., O’Dea (Wash.) five-star power forward Paolo Banchero, and Andrews Osborne Academy (Ohio) four-star center Charles Bediako.

ALSO READ: Five-stars on Duke’s radar advertise ‘package deal’ vision

Duke has already hauled in a commitment from Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) small forward A.J. Griffin, who remains the only 2021 five-star off the board.

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