Insider calls Duke basketball recruiting chase ‘a bit overblown’

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball might dial back, for now, its recruitment of a 2021 center.

Last week, Corey Evans of Rivals projected that three or more of the then-five Duke basketball targets would join Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin as future Blue Devils. Sure enough, O’Dea (Wash.) five-star power forward Paolo Banchero announced his commitment the next day, adding yet another smidge of credibility to the recruiting insider.

ALSO READ: Kentucky working to flip Duke commit Paolo Banchero?

Now, four names, all five-stars, remain on Duke’s 2021 radar: Paul VI (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels, Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr., Montverde (Fla.) small forward Caleb Houstan, and IMG (Fla.) center Charles Bediako. According to an article on Tuesday, though, Evans does not see much chance of the lone big man on that list landing in Durham:

“Don’t look too deep into my Charles Bediako FutureCast prediction, but Alabama has been the constant chatter…Sure, Duke, Michigan, and Ohio State are three others that are involved with Bediako, but the Blue Devils’ recruitment of Bediako is a bit overblown. Adding another big of his talent would be nice, but Paolo Banchero’s commitment may have solidified Duke’s frontcourt needs in the 2021 class.”

However, as Evans also pointed out, it could be a while before Bediako picks from his 10 finalists: Alabama, Baylor, Duke, Maryland, Michigan, Memphis, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Texas. So lots could change in the race for the 6-foot-11, 225-pound Canadian, who ranks No. 20 on the 247Sports Composite due in large part to his size, mobility, and burgeoning post moves.

It’s not out of the question the Blue Devils say farewell in the spring to Mark Williams, a five-star 7-footer who would attract loads of NBA attention if he was to put up lofty stats as a Duke basketball rookie starter. And as Evans recently noted, if that looks to be the case before Bediako chooses a school, then look for Mike Krzyzewski and his assistants to ramp up their efforts:

“Whether or not Mark Williams leaves after the season will determine how great of a need Duke has at the center position.”

Plus, in addition to grad-transfer big man Patrick Tape expiring his eligibility, sophomore stretch-four Matthew Hurt seems likely to bolt for the pro ranks after his next campaign. Furthermore, it stands to reason one or both of four-star 2020 power forwards Henry Coleman and Jaemyn Brakefield could depart as well.

In fact, roughly half of Duke’s 2020-21 roster consists of underclassmen who might realize NBA dreams next year. As a result, uncertainty abounds in regards to 2021-22 roster needs.

Is Duke basketball even still in pursuit of Charles Bediako?

Bediako received a Duke basketball offer in December, maybe because he was pondering a reclass to 2020 at the time. Ever since he nixed that idea, there’s been relatively sparse news of contact between the parties. However, Coach K and his crew did hold a virtual meeting with the 18-year-old as recently as May and then wound up in his top 10, implying they’re still in the mix.

Of the four prospects who still have invites to become Blue Devils, Duke only boasts the 247Sports Crystal Ball lead for Baldwin Jr., the No. 1 player in the class. That said, only one expert on the site has chimed in with a forecast for any of the other three, and that pick — Bediako to Alabama — came in October.

Simply put, on top of enjoying the country’s only two top 10 commits to date, Duke still has ample time to further ding other programs’ 2021 dreams.

Related Story. Predicting Duke's 2021 class. light

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