One way to appreciate the amount of talent to come through the Duke basketball program during these peak years of the one-and-done era is to look back at the players as preps.
Some see a failure. However, an average of 29 wins, a combined 15-4 record in the NCAA Tournament, and a natty to boot seem to say otherwise. But no matter how one judges the past six Duke basketball seasons, there’s no denying the five-star paradise on the recruiting trail.
From the 2014 class to the present, not only have Mike Krzyzewski and his staff landed 39 commitments, but they have done so while seeing only 51 rejections to their scholarship offers. In other words, 43.3 percent of their offers have resulted in pledges. For perspective, compare that to North Carolina’s 23.9 percent success rate across the same span (27-for-113).
In terms of quality, this collection of Duke commits has consisted of 26 five-stars, nine four-stars, and only four three-stars, giving the Blue Devils four of the nation’s past seven No. 1 classes (top three in each of the other three cycles). Including 2021 commit AJ Griffin, of the combined 80 prospects since 2014 who have ranked in the top 10 of their respective classes on the 247Sports Composite, 13 have been Durham-bound (16.3 percent).
Yet numbers alone don’t do justice to the Duke basketball recruiting supremacy. Fortunately, Courtside Films released this week a 2014-present montage of 33 highly touted Blue Devil recruits from their high school days:
OK, if neither numbers nor highlights suffice, then maybe all the names will do the trick. The above Dukie mixtape — remember, dating back only six years — features Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier…oops, gonna need another paragraph to cover 2017-present:
Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr., Jordan Tucker, Alex O’Connell, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Joey Baker, Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley, Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, Jaemyn Brakefield, and Mark Williams (recruits not in the video: Antonio Vrankovic, Justin Robinson, Jordan Goldwire, Jack White, Henry Coleman, AJ Griffin).
All those numbers. All those highlights. All those names. No wonder 25 former Blue Devils have appeared in at least one NBA game this season — second to Kentucky’s 27 — with 14 averaging double-digit points, including four who are scoring more than 23 per game. Plus, three more are now headed to the league. So as Duke recruiters look to give Griffin some five-star company in the 2021 class, the K-to-NBA train shows no sign of slowing down.
Also, undoubtedly, more seasons of 25-plus wins are on the horizon in Durham, sure to coincide with more “failure” tags from fans of schools that finish seasons, say, 14-19.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding all things Duke basketball.