Duke basketball: Finalists surrendering in battle for five-star?

Is the Duke basketball staff among the bunch giving up on Kennedy Chandler?

A Crystal Ball now 100 percent Tennessee orange. A rumor of an announcement on the horizon. Now, talk of several finalists admitting behind the scenes their defeat at the hands of the Volunteers. In Duke basketball terms, this means that the chances continue to dwindle for Mike Krzyzewski and his recruiting team to wind up with a commitment from Sunrise Christian (Kan.) five-star rising senior Kennedy Chandler.

ALSO READ: Predicting where each 2021 Duke target will land

In a Wednesday article, Corey Evans of Rivals answered a tweet asking him to predict what month the 6-foot-1, 165-pound floor general will unveil the winner from the top five he named in the spring: Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, and Tennessee. After not at all sugarcoating his response — “August” — the recruiting insider also made clear what he’s hearing from some of Chandler’s suitors who technically remain in contention but evidently see the writing on the wall:

“Kennedy Chandler — or at least those connected with him — has repeatedly denied that he is anywhere near committing. But where there is smoke there is fire, which is the situation with the five-star guard. The talk in recent weeks is that Chandler is close to committing, and if that is the case it would be to Tennessee. Speaking with various coaching staffs that have been in the running for Chandler, they expect him to end up in Knoxville — and some are waving the white flag to an extent…”

While Evans did not disclose whether the Duke basketball coaches are among those who have basically thrown in the towel, he also did not completely rule out the extremely slim possibility of misdirection in the Chandler family’s repertoire:

“…There is also the thought that Chandler would like to visit all five of his finalists one more time before committing. That is easier said than done in light of the current restrictions on official visits, which could be prolonged well past the Aug. 31 [date]. Maybe Chandler does hold off, but whether it is August or November or February, chances are he will end up playing for Rick Barnes a year from now.”

A pledge from Chandler, a Memphis native who has referred to Duke as his “dream school” in seemingly every interview he’s ever given, would give Tennessee the No. 1 point guard, No. 11 overall, on the 247Sports 2021 Composite. Not only does the speedster have a motor that never sputters and an elite ability to finish in traffic, but he also exudes a quiet confidence that hints at one-and-done stardom ahead — likely to the tune of “Rocky Top” and to the delight of Vol Nation.

Some Duke basketball recruiting races showing a little more hope

Krzyzewski and his gang still boast the nation’s highest-ranked 2021 commit in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin, who now holds a No. 6 composite ranking. Also, most insiders view Duke basketball as the favorite for Hamilton (Wis.) five-star small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., the No. 1 recruit in the class.

The Blue Devils also still have a shot, or so it appears, with four more five-star rising seniors: Paul VI (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, Montverde (Fla.) small forward Caleb Houstan, IMG (Fla.) center Charles Bediako, and O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero, who could also land in Knoxville due to his close friendship with Chandler.

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on Kennedy Chandler plus other Duke basketball recruiting news and views.