Duke basketball lands biggest recruiting surprise since Zion Williamson

Duke basketball freshman Paolo Banchero (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshman Paolo Banchero (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke basketball program pulled another rabbit out of their hat as five-star recruit Paolo Banchero has committed to the Blue Devils.

Well, well, well, look what we have here.

The GOAT doing GOAT things as Mike Krzyzewski landed his biggest recruiting piece and surprise since Zion Williamson famously said he would be joining The Brotherhood on a Saturday night in January 2018.

Seemingly out of thin air, five-star forward Paolo Banchero tweeted an announcement video on Thursday afternoon saying he would be joining the Blue Devils following his senior year of high school.

Rumored to be a package deal with point guard Kennedy Chandler, who just committed to Tennessee, many recruiting experts and analysts gave Duke no shot to land the O’Dea High School (Wash.) star, but little did they know of Krzyzewski’s plans.

Chandler tweeted his congratulations to Banchero following his announcement as the two will go their separate ways for their anticipated short collegiate careers.

Paolo Banchero gives the Blue Devils its second commitment in the Class of 2021, joining Top-10 forward AJ Griffin out of Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.).

ALSO READ: Insider gives an ambitious outlook on Coach K’s 2021 class

Ranked as the No. 3 recruit in the rising senior class, according to the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, Banchero is also the No. 1 power forward in his class and No. 1 player in the state of Washington.

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A recent Zoom call between the Duke staff and Banchero family most likely sealed the deal for the Blue Devils as the original plan was for Paolo to commit in the spring. But the five-star told Corey Evans of Rivals, “A lot of people say different things about Duke but one of the main things that stands out to me is that they have three straight years that they have had the National Freshman of the Year.”

Unfortunately, Duke has only had the National Freshman of the Year two straight seasons with Zion Williamson and Vernon Carey Jr., but a three-peat could be on the way with five-star Jalen Johnson, and Banchero could then make it four in a row for the Blue Devils the following season.

What has remained consistent throughout Duke’s recruitment of Paolo Banchero is Krzyzewski’s pitch, which was also detailed to Rivals, “Coach K talks to me all the time about how he coached LeBron and Kevin Durant all on the same team and all those great basketball players and getting them to gel together and he just tells me that I could come in with a great group of guys…and that I would fit in perfectly and have the chance to have the ball in my hands.”

Not to look past the stunning news of the do-it-all 6-foot-9 forward landing in Durham, but Duke is also the heavy favorite to land the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2021, Patrick Baldwin Jr., and remains connected to top-tier recruits such as Trevor Keels and Caleb Houstan.

Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington, and Gonzaga made up the rest of Banchero’s Top-6.

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

Expect Banchero to be the focal point of the Blue Devils offense in the 2021-22 season as he also told Evans, “One thing that they have stressed is that you will have the ball in your hands a lot, especially as a player like me that can pass.”

The official Duke Men’s Basketball Twitter account even looked stunned when the commitment video dropped, releasing a series of tweets that perfectly summarized what all Blue Devil fans were feeling shortly before 5:00pm on the East Coast.



Dinner on Thursday evening will taste a little bit better for those who bleed Duke blue as opposing fans are already shaking with another potential super-team forming in Durham.