Five-star target mentions Duke basketball legend, addresses future cuts

Duke basketball (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The No. 1 power forward in the 2021 class recently penned a blog that points out the next step to his recruitment and also includes the name of a Duke basketball alum.

O’Dea (Wash.) five-star junior Paolo Banchero already boasts the build and arsenal to be a wrecking-ball power forward in college. Plus, the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder has talked of joining forces with another Duke basketball target in Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound five-star who already exhibits the quickness and vision to direct a powerhouse program from Day One.

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Needless to say, the Blue Devils should have plenty of motivation to stay fully onboard the Banchero train until his decision date. No, the 17-year-old has not indicated when he plans to choose his NCAA destination. But he did bring up in his inaugural SI blog this week that “during or after the summer season…maybe before or after July” he will make some cuts to his current list of 10 favorites: Baylor, Duke, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.

“I’m not sure of what I’ll cut it down to, though,” wrote Banchero, who added Michigan to his original nine-deep list from September.

Obviously, the timeline suggests there is little chance the No. 4 overall prospect on the 247Sports 2021 Composite will announce his final decision before the fall. However, the fact Banchero is now mentioning future cuts and the fact he has already taken his five allotted official visits for his junior year — to UNC, Kentucky, Duke, Tennessee, and Gonzaga — hint he’ll likely commit somewhere in time for the early signing period in November.

In his blog, Banchero also happened to note that Duke basketball legend Carlos Boozer has been in attendance to watch O’Dea play this season. Though the recruit did nothing more than point out that he has seen the former 13-year NBA power forward in the stands, the name-drop brings to mind a few similarities between the two.

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Like the 6-foot-9 Boozer, Banchero has a strong base, powerful presence, and advanced footwork to go along with a smooth mid-range jumper. Of course, Banchero possesses a bit more hops and range than Boozer, yet he carries around 20 or so fewer pounds; nevertheless, both the 2001 national champ and 2013-14 one-and-done Jabari Parker are probably the closest Duke basketball comparisons for the coveted Seattle native.

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All eight picks in the 247Sports Crystal Ball still show Banchero landing at Washington, the alma mater of both his parents. That said, should he be planning to leave the West Coast — and indeed planning to team up with Chandler — the consensus of late seems to be that the race’s frontrunners are Duke, Kentucky, UNC, and Tennessee (but watch out for Michigan).

Outside of Paolo Banchero and Kennedy Chandler, the list of 2021 Duke basketball targets consists of 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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So far, the only 2021 prospect to have committed to becoming a Blue Devil is Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward A.J. Griffin.

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