Duke basketball: Blue Devils may already boast best 2021 prospect

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Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Does the Duke basketball program's lone 2021 commit rank six spots too low?

It has become apparent that some Duke basketball followers actually take for granted five-star recruits who fall outside the top five in their class. Take, for instance, Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) small forward AJ Griffin, who verbally committed to the Blue Devils in November.

Though the 6-foot-7, 200-pound chiseled baller remains, some seven months later, the only Duke pledge among rising seniors, his name rarely pops up anymore in daily recruiting discussions among raving Dukies on social media. Admittedly, even this site, which writes recruiting articles left and right, hasn't published a piece solely about Griffin since way back in the day when only the 30-year-old hermit in mom's basement knew all the ins and outs of social distancing.

See, the namesake of former eight-year NBA player Adrian Griffin (now the lead assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors) sits only No. 7 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite. Well, whoop-dee-doo, says a fanbase who has seen Mike Krzyzewski and his gang haul in 18 players with composite ratings higher than Griffin this century alone (almost an average of one per year).

This week, though, one expert suggested via the tweet below that, down the road, folks may look back at Griffin as 2021's shoulda-been No. 1 guy. Jonathan Wasserman, the lead NBA scout for Bleacher Report who also used to construct mock drafts for NBADraft.net, supported his opinion with clips displaying the 16-year-old's NBA range in addition to his rhythmic way of working defenders left, right, forward, and backward to create space for his moonball splashes.

Wasserman also called attention in another tweet (below) to one drive where Griffin was basically moving in cursive. And it's not as if his defender on the play was some chump. No, he sliced and diced his way to an impressive scoop shot off the glass against O'Dea (Wash.) five-star power forward Paolo Banchero, a nimble strongman who ranks No. 4 overall in 2021 and is a target the Duke basketball recruiters may also sway their way.

Others see the likely one-and-done Duke basketball star as made for the NBA

Adding to the above evidence the top-shelf instincts, confidence, power, versatility, and aggression Griffin exhibits in the junior-year mixtape below, it's no wonder Jackson Frank of The Athletic recently slotted the future Blue Devil at No. 16 with his "NBA’s 30 best players in 2025" predictions.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 25 Blue Devils in the NBA this season

Likewise, it's no surprise NBA Draft Room projects Griffin as the No. 3 overall pick at the 2022 NBA Draft, comparing him to five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler.

So there you have it. It might be time for spoiled Duke basketball nuts, myself included, to start feeding the hype a little more often in regards to the one talent who could stand out from all his peers in a few years — possibly just in time for his arrival in Durham the season after next.

Coach K and his cohorts remain in contention for Banchero and five other 2021 five-stars: Andrews Osborne (0hio) center Charles Bediako, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., Rolling Meadows (Ill.) shooting guard Max Christie, Paul VI Catholic (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, and Sunrise Christian (Kan.) point guard Kennedy Chandler.

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analyses, opinions, and predictions.