Duke basketball: Insider gives ambitious outlook on Coach K’s 2021 class

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

One expert’s latest recruiting intel spells good times for Duke basketball.

Corey Evans of Rivals provided what should be music to the ears of Duke basketball fans with his latest on the 2021 efforts of Mike Krzyzewski and his staff. According to the insider’s Wednesday recruiting updates, by the time it’s said and done, the Blue Devils should boast as many treasures as anyone could expect from a single class. Plus, they might just do so without having to further browse the selection of uncommitted prospects:

“If I am a Duke fan, I am monitoring Trevor Keels, Pat Baldwin, Caleb Houstan, Paolo Banchero, and Charles Bediako. That does not mean the Blue Devils are going to land all those players, but they should feel good about where they sit with the tremendous group…Expect at least three of the five to commit to Duke and join AJ Griffin on the Durham campus in a year.”

ALSO READ: Ranking Duke’s chances with five remaining 2021 targets

Well, that would do the trick. And such a haul could end up on the shortlist of the all-time best if it was to include Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., a 6-foot-10 deft five-star who ranks No. 1 on the 247Sports 2021 Composite and has been at the center of Duke’s radar for more than two years. Imagine the silky sniper alongside November pledge AJ Griffin, a 6-foot-7 power-packed wing who sits No. 6 and attends Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.).

But wait. Remember, per Evans, it gets better. And if two more are indeed to follow suit, then that would presumably give Duke the exact right number of pieces when figuring two senior contributors will expire eligibility this season (Jordan Goldwire and Patrick Tape) while at least a couple of the top underclassmen will almost certainly boost their stock enough to bolt early (Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore, Jeremy Roach, and DJ Steward are the top candidates).

In regards to which two of the other four holding Duke basketball offers may pledge allegiance to #TheBrotherhood (assuming Baldwin Jr. is the third), Evans gave a closer look from a Blue Devil perspective. He started with Paul VI (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, a 6-foot-5 high-IQ five-star at No. 16 overall, and Montverde (Fla.) small forward Caleb Houstan, a 6-foot-8 five-star tactician who now holds a No. 8 composite ranking after recently making the move from the 2022 class:

“Keels has often been connected to Duke and Villanova, the two likeliest landing spots for him. Baldwin is in a similar boat, but his father’s program, Milwaukee, will be difficult to beat, as will Kentucky and North Carolina. If it doesn’t get Baldwin, then potentially Duke makes Houstan an even greater priority. I’d say the Blue Devils’ last successful Canadian transplant, RJ Barrett, worked out well in Durham…that could help them when it comes time for Houstan to commit.”

Next, Evans explored the chances of Duke reeling in O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero, a 6-foot-9 lightfooted bruiser who at No. 3 overall among his peers has all the tools of a one-and-done lottery pick:

“Banchero is in the middle of a national battle that includes the local programs, Gonzaga and Washington, and also Arizona, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Blue Devils are definitely one of the teams to beat, but his commitment will be a tricky one. Don’t slight Tennessee’s chances now after it just secured his good friend, Kennedy Chandler.”

Package-deal possibilities aside, another top insider, Jake Weingarten of Stock Risers, also addressed the Banchero battle on Wednesday by pointing out what he has heard from the recruit himself in respect to a timeline and his contact with Duke basketball recruiters:

“Banchero told me a few weeks ago that he wasn’t really near a decision and that it has been very hard for him. As those weeks have flown by, he’s completed some Zoom calls with the most recent one being with the Duke staff.”

The other big man with an invite to become a Blue Devil is IMG (Fla.) center Charles Bediako, No. 20 on the composite. Touching on Duke’s standing in the 6-foot-11 developing five-star’s recruitment, Evans noted that Coach K and his assistants are seemingly taking a wait-and-see approach when determining the amplitude of their pursuit:

“Finally, Bediako is a key target that Alabama is making a serious run at, as are Memphis, Tennessee, Texas, and a number of others. Whether or not [freshman center] Mark Williams leaves after the season will determine how great of a need Duke has at the center position.”

What happens if this Duke basketball forecast is a tad too optimistic?

If all else fails or the number of early departures exceeds expectations, then the Blue Devils, as Evans suggested, could rely on their experience as last-minute thieves on the recruiting trail:

“If Duke feels as if it is losing steam on any of them, then maybe it circles back with someone like Harrison Ingram or another player that doesn’t hold a Blue Devils offer.”

Ingram, a 6-foot-6 five-star small forward (No. 13 overall) has already announced a top six of Harvard, Howard, Michigan, North Carolina, Purdue, and Stanford. Of course, late additions are common in recruiting and have often come as a result of the Duke basketball recruiting team officially entering a chase.

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