Duke basketball among five still alive for five-star package deal

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

By surviving the first cut from prep sensation Kennedy Chandler, the Duke basketball program likely also stayed in the hunt for his ideal college running mate.

Back in September, the Duke basketball recruiting machine landed among the top nine for O’Dea (Wash.) five-star power forward Paolo Banchero, who ranks No. 3 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite.

The other eight remaining finalists for the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Banchero — who hails from Seattle and whose versatility, confidence, and frame all bring to mind former Duke basketball one-and-done Jabari Parker — are Baylor, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, UNC, and Washington.

Now, five of those finalists for Banchero — Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, and UNC — are also among the top 10 that Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) junior point guard Kennedy Chandler announced via a Friday evening tweet (which, to no surprise, Banchero quickly retweeted).

Florida State, Kansas, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Southern Cal are the other five technically still in contention for the 6-foot-1, 165-pound Chandler, who ranks No. 15 with an electric game similar in style to that of Duke basketball legend Jason Williams.

In other words, in the eyes of those fans who take seriously the public chatter between Banchero and Chandler about joining forces in pursuit of an NCAA title — both have consistently brought up the idea in interviews and across social media ever since forming a tight bond at a USA Basketball Minicamp last summer — the five finalists to haul in what would be a dynamite duo are Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, and UNC.

Not only is Tennessee the only one of those five to have hosted both Banchero and Chandler for official visits, but also the pair’s October stays in Knoxville just so happened to fall on the same weekend — potentially concerning to the other four schools.

That said, Banchero took official visits to Duke, Kentucky, and UNC as well back in the fall. As for Chandler, although the Memphis native had already planned all five of his allotted official visits for his junior year prior to receiving offers from the three aforementioned bluebloods, he has since planned upcoming unofficial trips to Durham, Lexington, and Chapel Hill.

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In fact, Chandler is set to watch the Blue Devils in action twice this season: Jan. 18 when Duke hosts Louisville and Feb. 8 when the team plays at UNC.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball for Chandler remains void of predictions; meanwhile, the one for Banchero only contains eight dated picks — all at least four months old — that each pegs him to follow in his parents’ footsteps by choosing Washington. Neither recruit has named an exact timeline for making a final decision.

Based on all of the above — also from following both with a close eye on Twitter and Instagram, as well as taking into account recent recruiting successes — Ball Durham’s forecast at the moment is for the package deal of Banchero and Chandler to ultimately become a reality and for the lucky beneficiary to be Duke, Kentucky, UNC, or Tennessee.

Duke currently holds the nation’s only five-star commit from the 2021 class in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward A.J. Griffin.

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Other current high school juniors who have received Duke 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.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analyses, opinions, and predictions.