Duke basketball: Blue Devils in tussle with family for 2021 five-star

Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Influences from both a high school junior’s kin and a Duke basketball descendant have the Blue Devils in a difficult recruiting battle.

The father. One side of the family tree. Duke basketball alum Chris Collins. The staff in Durham. Altogether, it may be a four-way melee for Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., a five-star who ranks No. 3 overall on the 247Sports 2021 Composite and has yet to name finalists.

Baldwin Jr.’s namesake is the head coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His dad’s blood relatives live near the Kansas campus. Both parents played for Northwestern, where he was a ballboy — alongside Rolling Meadows (Ill.) five-star shooting guard and potential college teammate Max Christie — when his pops was an assistant under Collins.

While the Blue Devils probably aren’t even distant cousins to Baldwin Jr., Mike Krzyzewski and his gang have been envisioning the 6-foot-10, 205-pound sharpshooter as a future member of #TheBrotherhood since before his sophomore year. They hosted him for an unofficial visit in February and talked to him via a virtual call a month or so ago.

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Per the 247Sports Crystal Ball, Duke remains the outright leader. However, Rivals insider Corey Evans, who spoke with Baldwin Jr. for a lengthy Q&A this week and was thereby able to decipher inflections that don’t come across in printed quotes, recently asserted to the Lexington Herald-Leader — yes, Kentucky is another suitor — that discounting Patrick Baldwin Sr. is a mistake:

“Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he says he’s going to stay home and go to Milwaukee. And as you get to kind of know the kid, you’re like, ‘That kind of makes sense.’ Look at how many times in the Q&A that he brings up family — that’s important to him. And you have his father, they kind of go everywhere together…they’re very, very close…his game translates so well, I don’t think it really matters where he goes, honestly.”

On the other hand, incoming Duke basketball small forward Jalen Johnson, a projected one-and-done, has been in the ear of his former Nike EYBL running mate about replacing him as a Blue Devil the season after next. Plus, as Evans noted, Baldwin Jr.’s personality also comes across as Dukie-ish:

“I do think Duke has a very good chance as well. He’s that Duke kind of kid…As of right now, I think it’s Duke and Milwaukee, honestly. And then everyone else.”

Evans, who reminded recruiting junkies on Saturday that Baldwin Jr. could be several months away from picking a school, once provided the Herald-Leader with a clear explanation as to why the 17-year-old is worth every minute that each of the frontrunners uses to pursue him:

“He fits today’s game to a T, right? He’s a 6-9, 6-10 combo forward that can shoot the heck out of the ball. And today’s game is so reliant on making shots. He’s getting more athletic. He’s getting bigger. He’s getting stronger. He’s tough…you know he has an IQ for the game. When you’re talking about safe prospects — guys that are going to make it — I’m going to bet on him.”

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

Coach K has one commit from the class in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin.

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