Duke basketball: Blue Devils, Tar Heels vie for velvety five-star recruit

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

The Duke basketball coaches and their foes in Chapel Hill account for two of the three groups who recently ‘hosted’ the most advanced 2021 prospect.

By no means are they the only remaining suitors. There is no list of finalists — for now. There are roughly 20 offers. But Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. told HOOPGATE this weekend that the Duke basketball staff is among the trio he has spoken to via virtual visits (he attended Duke’s home win over Virginia Tech in February while on an unofficial visit).

Baldwin Jr.’s other two virtual hosts are the herd at North Carolina and a former Blue Devil’s bunch at Northwestern.

First, there’s no need to laugh at the notion that Duke’s ex-assistant and player, Chris Collins, has a realistic shot to snag the No. 3 overall talent on the 247Sports 2021 Composite. Bear in mind that Patrick Baldwin Sr., now the head coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and once the right-hand man for Collins in Evanston, turned down an offer from Kansas in 1990 and then went on to put up double-figure scoring averages in all four of his seasons at Northwestern.

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Plus, lest we forget that the elder Baldwin himself is a contender in the race. Consider that he has been “conducting visits” with his son for the past 17 years. Furthermore, as the father explained to Chicago Tribune reporter Teddy Greenstein in February, he holds the inside scoop on the smooth operator’s measurements:

“He’s actually 6-10. He just likes to be called 6-9. He thinks maybe they’ll put him at power forward or center.”

In other words, the 2019-20 Wisconsin Boys Basketball Player of the Year knows he’s much more than just a tower. According to Greenstein, Duke basketball CEO Mike Krzyzewski has expressed to his inner circle that Baldwin Jr. is the “perfect recruit” when explaining why he extended an offer before the teen was even a high school sophomore (UNC’s Roy Williams didn’t enter the fray until the next summer).

Baldwin Jr.’s frame, game, and athleticism constitute a recipe for one-and-done greatness. As one can see in the above video, his features include length, awareness, instincts, confidence, handles, and mobility. His trademark, obviously, is his picture-perfect shooting form.

At this point, Baldwin Jr. has not made clear when he will announce his college of choice — other than he intends to sign in the fall — but he has suggested he could team up with fellow Duke basketball target Max Christie, who ranks No. 13 overall in the class. The Rolling Meadows (Ill.) five-star shooting guard served alongside his buddy as a Northwestern ballboy.

Seeing that Baldwin Jr. and Christie do not seek out billboards to update their recruitments, decisions could come at any moment without notice, meaning these latest virtual visits could be of utmost importance. Currently, every 247Sports Crystal Ball pick projects both coveted masterpieces to display their artistry on Tobacco Road — specifically, in Durham.

ALSO READ: Five 2021 recruits who’d gel devilishly well at Duke

Coach K and his cohorts have thus far reeled in one 2021 commit in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin. Outside of Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Max Christie, their offer sheet consists of five five-star juniors: Andrews Osborne (Ohio) center Charles Bediako, O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero, The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, and Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler.

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