Thus far, no notable recruiting duels have taken place between Jeff Capel and the Duke basketball staff, but the Pitt head coach evidently isn’t backing off one giant on his alma mater’s 2021 radar.
Duke basketball king Mike Krzyzewski has often made clear that he’d rather not have to square off against his former players-turned-assistants after they become head honchos elsewhere. Presumably, the 74-year-old would prefer not to cross paths with his protégés on the recruiting trail either.
As for the sight of Jeff Capel in pursuit of a common five-star target, that must be doubly difficult. In such scenarios nowadays, not only does Coach K have to compete for commitments against the man who had been his top recruiter for most of the previous decade, but he also has to do so knowing he would surely have to face, at least once per season in ACC play, any recruits the 45-year-old Pitt head coach might woo from his grasp.
However, ever since Capel left the staff in Durham two years ago, despite handing out a boatload of offers in each recruiting cycle, the mentee has mostly steered clear of his mentor when it comes to chasing five-star prospects. A coincidence? Maybe.
Or maybe Capel is no dummy and has strategically deemed those contests a waste of his time. After all, Coach K is highly selective, leading to a high percentage of his relatively few offers resulting in signatures.
Either way, the former Duke basketball guard (1993-97) is not shying away in the tussle for Andrews Osborne (Ohio) center Charles Bediako, a Canadian who ranks No. 23 overall on the 247Sports 2021 Composite. On Friday, just three days after Krzyzewski and all of his current assistants hosted a virtual meeting with the 6-foot-11, 220-pound rising senior, Capel and his bunch followed suit.
So could Bediako become the first player to pick Capel over the Duke basketball program? Sure, but it’s also possible the 18-year-old will choose neither and wind up either at 247Sports Crystal Ball leader Alabama or manning the paint for some other suitor.
Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Texas have also recently spoken to Bediako, per recruiting insider Adam Zagoria, who noted on Saturday what the big man’s high school coach, Dave Briski, recently said about the budding talent:
“Charles is the ideal 5 in the modern-day game because of his length and athleticism and his continually improving ability to stretch the floor. His speed is what sets him apart from other guys at his position. Once he consistently uses it in transition and in two-man actions on the perimeter, he will be in a class of his own.”
Speaking of class, Bediako at one point was considering a reclass to 2020 but announced in February that he has decided to stay put in 2021. Meanwhile, he has neither publicly named favorites nor indicated an exact time frame for selecting a college.
Others from Bediako’s class who hold Duke basketball offers all rank in the top 20: Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) point guard Kennedy Chandler, Rolling Meadows (Ill.) shooting guard Max Christie, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, The Patrick School (N.J.) small forward Jonathan Kuminga, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., and O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero. From that list, only Kuminga also holds an offer from Capel.
Duke has one 2021 commit in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin, who also held a Pitt offer.