Top-ranked Duke basketball target stirs recruitment chatter

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

After a tight-lipped few months for one A-list recruit holding a Duke basketball offer, his name has resurfaced as a hot topic, but are the Blue Devils still active in the race?

In late December, when The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga played in Raleigh’s John Wall Invitational, the Duke basketball program made a statement of heavy interest — twice. First, assistants showed up on the scene. Two nights later, Mike Krzyzewski arrived with his entire entourage, including a few current players.

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Weeks prior, Kuminga had attended the squad’s win over Kansas in Madison Square Garden. The day after that, the No. 1 prospect on the 247Sports 2021 Composite named Duke among his favorites, along with Kentucky, Washington, Florida State, Memphis, Texas Tech, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, and Auburn.

Ever since the calendar flipped to 2020, though, it’s been all quiet on the Kuminga front, especially in regards to Duke. There have been no recent reports of any contact between the Blue Devils and the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Congo native.

So as soon as Stock Risers insider Jake Weingarten reported on Tuesday that the five-star intends to “soon” announce his top five, uncertainty set in as to whether Duke will make the cut. However, uncertainty could just be the name of the game for Kuminga, who hasn’t ruled out reclassing to 2020 while appearing to have the strength, explosiveness, and versatility to make it in the NBA right now.

With one pick apiece, Duke has long been in a tie with LSU inside Kuminga’s 247Sports Crystal Ball. That said, though those Tigers were not among his original top 10, the guru who picked them, Andrew Slater, has long hinted on social media that he may know something others don’t.

Therefore, when a rumor was circulating on Monday that the coaches in Louisiana had stopped pursuing the 17-year-old, it was no surprise to see Slater tweet out a direct response from the Kuminga family:

“Fake information… We will give an update on Jonathan’s recruitment soon. For now, he is focused on his online classes and enjoying time with his family during this [COVID-19] pandemic. Thanks.”

As for whether Duke is still an option, we’ll just have to wait and see his new list. Surely, knowing his intended year of enrollment would also be nice for the Blue Devils to know.

Currently, Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward A.J. Griffin is Coach K’s lone 2021 commit. The other five-star juniors on the Duke basketball radar are Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, Rolling Meadows (Ill.) shooting guard Max Christie, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., and O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero.

ALSO READ: Duke must have eyes on a five-star package deal

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