Duke basketball must deliver unique pitch to five-star prospect

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

A video call between the Duke basketball recruiters and one of the top 2021 point guards has the potential to either make or break the chase.

The Duke basketball staff is conducting an in-home virtual visit with Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler on Thursday evening, per Stock Risers recruiting insider Jake Weingarten. In order to seal the deal — at the end of the day, leading the 247Sports Crystal Ball doesn’t mean diddly-squat — Mike Krzyzewski may need to address two elephants in the room: the G League and Jeremy Roach.

Following the news last week of 2020 five-star Jalen Green choosing a $500K one-year deal over college, Chandler’s name was one of the first to pop up as another G League target. Plus, in an interview with Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Khari Thompson, the 6-foot-1, 165-pound junior did not exactly reject the possibility:

“I really don’t know right now. So I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing and talk to college coaches and see where I want to go for college.”

Chandler’s dad, Kylan, also said little to Thompson to dispel the thought:

“It depends, but Kennedy wants to go [to college]. We talked about it when [the G League] called me. That’s what he’s saying now. But who is to say what happens in a couple of years?”

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Assuming Chandler does indeed intend to go the university route, seeing that he has risen from No. 30 to No. 15 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite across the past year, he’s surely eyeing a starting gig for a major program. Furthermore, if the Memphis native is like most of the top 20 recruits in recent years, then he probably has visions of only a one-and-done stay.

Via the Durham route, a possible roadblock to Chandler’s quest could come in the form of Roach. The five-star 2020 Duke basketball signee, who is the heir apparent to Tre Jones at the one-spot, ranks No. 21 in his class. In other words, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound product of Paul VI Catholic (Va.) may have what it takes to lead Coach K’s backcourt as a freshman next season but, like Jones, may also benefit from a sophomore campaign before fulfilling his NBA dream.

As for Chandler, he appears to be a bit bouncier and quicker than Roach while equally talented as a distributor and finisher. That, in addition to the early interest from the G League, suggests Chandler is more likely than Roach to be ready for the pro ranks after one year or less in college.

So the question is, could Roach and Chandler, who told 247Sports last summer that a Duke offer would be a dream come true, succeed while operating in tandem the season after next? Well, it couldn’t hurt for Coach K to point out in his chat with Chandler a couple of his past talented point-guard duos who coexisted well enough to cut down April nets: Jason Williams and Chris Duhon in 2001 plus Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook in 2015.

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Right now, Chandler has 10 finalists: Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Ole Miss. And the 17-year-old, who took an unofficial visit to Duke in January, has already virtually visited this month with Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.

Also seemingly significant, six of the schools on Chandler’s list — Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan — overlap with the favorites of his friend and potential college teammate, O’Dea (Wash.) five-star power forward Paolo Banchero. Neither junior has given a specific timeline for making a final decision.

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All the other 2021 Duke basketball targets are also five-stars: Rolling Meadows (Ill.) shooting guard Max Christie, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, and Andrews Osborne (Ohio) center Charles Bediako. The Blue Devils’ lone commit from the class is Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin.

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