No. 1 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite (for now)
Unfortunately, due to the silence from signee Jalen Johnson in regards to his puzzling departure from IMG Academy several weeks ago, in addition to the subsequent rampant rumors concerning his plans moving forward — still no reports of the five-star attending any high school at the moment — it’s difficult at this point to say with any certainty that he’ll actually become a Blue Devil.
So until Johnson, who ranks No. 6 on the 247Sports 2020 Composite, or someone from his camp — or Krzyzewski — addresses all the questions, predicting the 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward to be on the next Duke basketball roster isn’t happening here.
When one door closes, of course, another one always opens (this would be applicable to both Johnson and Duke if the door between the two parties does indeed close all the way). From Duke’s point of view, such an opening door could reveal arguably the current No. 1 player, regardless of class, at the prep level: The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga.
As a five-star with a mesmerizing amount of both power and finesse — not to mention seemingly innate basketball acumen and vision — Kuminga could probably be holding his own right now in the NBA as just a 17-year-old (he turns 18 in October). In college, he could probably seamlessly play at any of the five positions. Ergo, the general consensus among recruiting insiders seems to be that the Congo native has no business staying put in the 2021 class to abuse high school kids on the hardwood for another season after this one.
But does Coach K hold the inside track as a suitor? Well, the game’s all-time wins leader appears to have the luxury of one of his highest-profile former players supporting his cause behind the scenes in Kyrie Irving.
Plus, Coach K recently brought a busload of his current players to check out Kuminga in person. Finally, factor in the 72-year-old’s unmatched success at reeling in the most uniquely elite prospects — such as Zion Williamson and Marvin Bagley III — across the latter half of the past decade, and one could easily assume he’s the leader in this race.
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The prospect himself has not ruled out a reclass. That said, he has repeatedly indicated that he’s in no hurry to make up his mind and will see how things play out in the spring. In other words, if Johnson was to back out of his signature, then that open door for Kuminga could be too inviting for him not to pounce on immediately.
Yes, with all that in mind, Ball Durham is predicting Kuminga to eventually reclass and then join the other 12 on this predicted Duke basketball roster for next season: Savarino, Worthington, Buckmire, Goldwire, O’Connell, Coleman, Brakefield, Baker, Williams, Moore, Steward, and Roach. Altogether, that’s three seniors, one junior, three sophomores, and six freshmen (11 scholarship players, if Coach K renews Buckmire’s, and two walk-ons).
Here’s the projected starting lineup:
- PG Roach
- SG Steward
- SF Moore
- PF Kuminga
- C Williams
Sixth man? Goldwire. A 10-deep rotation once again? You betcha. Same three end-of-bench cheerleaders? Yup.
Granted, this exact group would be a tad light when it comes to inside forces (no one heavier than 225 pounds). On the other hand, this exact group would be extraordinary in terms of combined athleticism, defensive prowess, and offensive firepower.
(For those who haven’t deduced this, whether or not all the decisions would seem like smart moves, the forecast here is that current sophomore Tre Jones plus freshmen Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, and Cassius Stanley will all pursue professional careers after this season in progress.)
And if all the above predictions prove correct, Kuminga’s late addition — even if it indeed means the subtraction of Johnson from the equation — would no doubt spell TROUBLE AHEAD for any opponent on Duke’s 2020-21 schedule.