Duke basketball: Five-star forward evidently likes watching Blue Devils

Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

A heralded high school sophomore has suddenly become a fixture in the stands at Duke basketball home games.

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski has yet to deliver any offers to 2022 recruits. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if Durham Academy (N.C.) small forward Marquise “MJ” Rice eventually becomes one of the first recipients.

Last season, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound five-star was the teammate of now-freshman Duke walk-on guard Michael Savarino, Krzyzewski’s grandson. This season, Rice has been in the bleachers inside Cameron Indoor Stadium on at least three occasions, including two straight contests.

In January, Rice watched Louisville defeat Duke in Durham. Two weeks later, the No. 23 overall prospect on the 247Sports 2022 Composite — who displayed his notable versatility, elite athleticism, and pure shooting stroke to the tune of 25 points, nine boards, and two assists per game before tearing his ACL in December — broke down his thoughts on Coach K & Co. in his SI blog:

"“It was great to talk with Coach K, Coach Nolan (Smith), Coach (Jon) Scheyer, and the players. The atmosphere was great, and Coach K talked to me about how they’d been watching me and would continue to watch me and check in throughout my recovery. The staff there was so supportive, and they showed a lot of love. You can tell that it’s really a brotherhood there, so that’s what stood out to me the most.”"

On Monday night, as reported by SI director of basketball recruiting Jason Jordan, Rice took in Duke’s 88-69 win in Durham over N.C. State, one of five programs to have extended him an offer (Boston College, Pitt, Providence, and Ole Miss are the others, according to 247Sports).

Then on Saturday night, Rice sat a few rows back from the bench — directly next to Duke basketball legend Grant Hill, per a tweet from 247Sports insider Adam Rowe — and watched the 89-76 victory at home over North Carolina.

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As Rivals expert Corey Evans noted, the contingent of preps who witnessed the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels — marking the third straight W in the series and the 34th across the past 52 meetings — also included Paul VI Catholic (Va.) junior shooting guard Trevor Keels, a five-star who received a Duke offer in December and was on his first unofficial visit to the campus.

Cameron’s latest crowd also welcomed two 2020 Duke basketball signees: Paul VI Catholic five-star point guard Jeremy Roach and Huntington Prep (W.Va.) four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield.

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Apparently, there is no limit to the number of unofficial visits a recruit can take to a school; plus, the NCAA allows an athlete to receive up to three free tickets at a time for a sporting event taking place during their time there. In other words, given his proximity, Rice may just wisely be taking advantage of the opportunity to see as many games as possible in one of the sport’s premier venues.

On the other hand, one can only be inside Cameron so many times before becoming hooked to the product. And one can imagine a player of Rice’s caliber would only have to take so many unofficial visits to a college before the staff there extends him an offer (though it’s probable the Duke basketball coaches simply haven’t gotten that far with their 2022 plans).

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