Top 2021 guards could do best financially in the Duke basketball backcourt.
If we believe the recent chatter among recruiting insiders, then the No. 1 point guard in the 2021 class, five-star Kennedy Chandler, has essentially already said sayonara to the Duke basketball program in favor of Tennessee. Last week, a fellow five-star rising senior, shooting guard Max Christie, chose Michigan State over the early-frontrunner Blue Devils.
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But some argue that Duke likely won’t need to nab a top-shelf 2021 perimeter player at all. Actually, those same folks might also point out that the potential logjam in the Blue Devil backcourt is, in fact, what is scaring off the likes of Chandler and Christie.
After all, if we buy into the escalating doubt among various experts regarding the likelihood of a 2020-21 college hoops season, then we might deduce that Duke will return now-incoming five-star guards Jeremy Roach and DJ Steward for what would coincide with a 2021 recruit’s freshman campaign. Plus, the lack of a season would leave senior guard Jordan Goldwire with the option to stick around as well.
That said, in light of the current early-departure climate, it doesn’t seem safe to assume the two teens and 21-year-old above would definitely delay their future dreams just for the sake of Duke basketball. Therefore, it does seem safe for Mike Krzyzewski to assume he will need to add at least one guard with the potential to serve as a primary ballhandler the season after next (whatever “next” is).
Popularity from being a Duke basketball point guard is set to truly pay off
Yet let’s say an elite 2021 point guard signs up to be a Blue Devil only to find overflowing competition for minutes (Roach, Steward, and Goldwire). Well, all that talent simply suggests he would see a strong possibility of being another famous member of an all-time Duke basketball backcourt (maybe even a national champ to boot).
OK, now add that to the fact the NCAA plans to lift the ban on student-athletes profiting from their name, image, and likeness in time for the arrival of the 2021 class. Next, consider that Duke basketball exceeds every other program in the country in terms of both social media followers and ESPN airtime.
Putting two and two together, regardless of whether some hypothetical 2021 point guard saw the starting nod as a Blue Devil rookie or not, he would still have the opportunity to rake in more money off his popularity while in Durham than if he was in, say, a Knoxville or East Lansing.
As for other backcourt targets in the class — now that Chandler and Christie seem all but off the board — Coach K and his crew officially have only one in five-star shooting guard Trevor Keels. However, Duke isn’t a favorite in that race; furthermore, the sharpshooter doesn’t display the speed of a blueblood point guard:
Unfortunately, only a few top point guards are still available. Also, most — including JD Davison, who sits one spot behind Chandler at No. 12 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite and briefly drew Duke eyes last summer — have already named finalists.
So it could be that the five-star American guards pass up on a shot to earn six figures as a Blue Devil rookie. If so, expect an overseas stud, notably the 6-foot-9, 185-pound French prospect Ousmane Dieng, to jump on the chance. In recent weeks, Duke has shown interest that was well received by the creative playmaker.
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Dieng has appeared on sites as all of the following: point guard, combo guard, shooting guard, wing, small forward, and point forward. Simply put, the 17-year-old (No. 11 below) is versatile:
Yes, Dieng should now look intriguing to the Blue Devils, assuming no snags with eligibility and whatnot. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils should look like the most lucrative option to Dieng — or to any top backcourt talent in the class from anywhere in the world.
Duke has one 2021 commit in five-star small forward AJ Griffin and is also still in contention for three more five-star recruits in the frontcourt: small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., power forward Paolo Banchero, and center Charles Bediako.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting news and views.