As a pair of high school phenoms look more and more like future teammates, the Duke basketball program looks to remain a top contender in both races.
On Friday, O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero tweeted his plans to “soon” unveil six finalists. One day later, Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard and fellow Duke basketball priority Kennedy Chandler followed suit with such a tweet of his own — except he will “soon” trim his list to five.
The significance of the timing and wording is that ever since Banchero and Chandler clicked at a Team USA minicamp last summer, both five-star 2021 prospects have dropped hints of forming a package deal. In addition to staying on a similar timeline when it comes to taking visits and announcing favorites — neither has pinpointed when Decision Day may come — both have advanced the narrative on social media and in countless interviews.
At the moment, Banchero has 11 suitors still in contention: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound multi-tooled heavyweight, who sits No. 4 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite, took an official visit to Duke back in October and virtually visited with Mike Krzyzewski and his staff a few weeks ago. Banchero’s 247Sports Crystal Ball currently favors Washington, the alma mater of both his parents, but no recent picks exist.
Meanwhile, Chandler will chop in half his current 10-deep list: Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Ole Miss. Notice the six schools Chandler shares in common with Banchero: Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound fleet-footed floor leader, who boasts a No. 15 composite ranking, traveled to Duke for an unofficial visit the same January weekend that ESPN College GameDay came to Durham. Chandler then talked to Coach K & Co. by way of a virtual call on Thursday evening. With only two insider predictions inside his Crystal Ball right now, the edge goes to the Blue Devils.
Banchero and Chandler are the only ones at their respective positions on Coach K’s 2021 wishlist. In other words, there’s no doubt this potential dream duo is a central goal for the Blue Devils, who already have one commit among current juniors in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin.
Two more holding Duke basketball offers, Rolling Meadows (Ill.) shooting guard Max Christie and Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., have also discussed the idea of joining forces at the next level. Every pick inside each of these five-star’s Crystal Ball points to good news ahead for the Blue Devils.
Three others from the class, all with five-star ratings, have also been on Duke’s radar: Andrews Osborne (Ohio) center Charles Bediako, The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, and Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels.