Duke basketball commit makes emphatic case for top ranking

Duke basketball pledge Paolo Banchero might be soaring for a No. 1 ranking.

Current Duke basketball fans will never see another Zion Williamson in their lifetime. But at least in rim-shaking terms, five-star power forward Paolo Banchero has made clear this weekend at the Grassroots Showcase in Indianapolis that the next best thing will be in Durham at this time next year (for what looks to be another one-and-done campaign).

ALSO READ: What to make of Duke’s tumbling class ranking

With flight boosters in his back pockets, Banchero pulled off a Saturday night dunk that ignited as many oohs and aahs as possible at a mid-pandemic AAU event. Also, by tallying 20 points and nine rebounds for Seattle Rotary (Wash.) in a 59-52 win over Phenom University (Wis.), the No. 3 overall prospect on the 247Sports 2021 Composite outshined No. 1 Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Back to the flight. First, with a lightning first step, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound bruiser blew past Baldwin Jr., a 6-foot-10 sniper forward at the center of Duke’s radar who finished 0-for-3 from deep with nine points and seven boards. Banchero then bolted along the baseline before skying to the rim, seemingly stopping mid-flight to activate boosters, and posterizing the defender.

It’s worth looking at the statement slam from another angle (at the start of the tape below). Plus, keep in mind that these full highlights from “Banchero vs. Baldwin Jr.” could represent a two-thirds preview of a star 2021 trio for Duke (assuming Baldwin Jr. joins Banchero, who committed in August, and AJ Griffin, a 6-foot-7 wing who ranks No. 6 and committed in November).

Dreams of an epic Duke basketball class continue

Banchero has indicated that he’s doing his part to try and wrap up the addition of Baldwin Jr. to Duke’s 2021 class. And he claims to be doing the same for the Blue Devils in their pursuit of shooting guard Trevor Keels, who has a No. 15 composite ranking. Mike Krzyzewski and his gang are also still chasing small forward Caleb Houstan (No. 7) and center Charles Bediako (No. 22).

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