Duke basketball: Top-five recruit ‘could see’ himself playing for Coach K

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

A key Duke basketball recruiting target recently gave some strong clues suggesting the Blue Devils are, at the very least, among his secret finalists.

Unlike many 2021 five-stars, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. hasn’t officially named favorites. But the 6-foot-10, 205-pound namesake of an NCAA head coach did go into detail with Rivals analyst Corey Evans this week about his thoughts on the Duke basketball program and six others: North Carolina, Northwestern, Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (his dad’s employer).

And Baldwin Jr.’s suitor-specific comments to Evans came after the following broad statement:

“There is a shortlist of schools that I am looking at now…pretty much, if I am talking to them, I have some vested interest in them. I am not going to release it, but we have talked to a few schools about getting onto campus in the coming months.”

Baldwin Jr., who ranks No. 3 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite with a game that is as smooth as they come in high school, attended Duke’s home win over Virginia Tech in February while on an unofficial visit. Plus, the 17-year-old, who almost two years ago became the all-time youngest recipient of an offer from Mike Krzyzewski, recently spoke with the coaches in Durham via a virtual call.

Now, his chat with Evans seems to only add to the hype that has led the 247Sports Crystal Ball to favor Coach K & Co. from the get-go:

“I love the coaching staff. Whenever I went there, the energy was amazing. Even the Cameron Crazies showed great love…definitely an atmosphere that any kid my age would want to play in…their facilities blew me away, their NBA players blew me away, and of course, their coaches did too. It is just a really good program and a really good situation that I think, down the line, I could see myself in.”

Yes, after hinting at a Duke basketball future, Baldwin Jr. also dished out praise for other pursuers. First, though, he pointed out to Evans that it doesn’t hurt the Blue Devils’ chances to have as part of their incoming 2020 class his former teammate from the Nike EYBL circuit, Nicolet (Wis.) small forward Jalen Johnson:

“[Johnson] is trying to get me to come there. It has been pretty cool having someone that I played with from my own state go there…he could really help me through this.”

ALSO READ: Player comparisons for seven incoming Blue Devils

Furthermore, another sharpshooter on Duke’s 2021 radar, Rolling Meadows (Ill.) five-star shooting guard Max Christie, was once a ballboy alongside Baldwin Jr. for Northwestern, and the two friends have discussed joining forces in college. Both intend to choose a destination before their senior seasons begin. However, as Baldwin Jr. explained to Evans, present world conditions could actually result in a sooner decision:

“Even though I haven’t been able to get onto campus as much…I have been able to talk to coaches more now than in the past…so I don’t know how it is going to affect [my timeline]. It may even speed it up.”

Outside of the ones to Baldwin Jr. and Christie, all the other 2021 Duke basketball offers awaiting answers are also to five-stars: Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Max Christie, The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero, and Andrews Osborne (Ohio) center Charles Bediako.

ALSO READ: Five 2021 recruits who’d gel devilishly well in Durham

The Blue Devils have already reeled in one commit from the pool of current juniors in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin.

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