Nate James does routine housekeeping on potential Duke basketball target

Duke basketball coaches (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Duke basketball coaches (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball assistant coach Nate James continues to work a barren recruiting trail for the Blue Devils.

Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff have not offered a prospect in the Class of 2022 as the program still remains committed to putting the finishing touches on its Class of 2021 haul, which includes uncommitted targets Patrick Baldwin, Trevor Keels, and Charles Bediako.

The team is much better positioned to land Baldwin and Keels, to pair with AJ Griffin and Paolo Banchero, compared to Bediako, although the Blue Devils just made the Top-5 finalists for the center over the weekend.

However, the persistence with the current senior class has not stopped the coaching staff from gauging the Class of 2022, and that is what Nate James recently did with a Durham prospect.

Jai Smith, one of the fastest rising players in the junior class and originally a member of the Class of 2021, reclassified to 2022 after joining Bull City Prep in Durham as the Syracuse, New York native has seen a bolt in his offers over the last two weeks.

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Smith has landed offers from Georgia Tech, Arizona, Wake Forest, Marquette, St. John’s, and North Carolina State since the beginning of October and also has offers from Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas A&M, Alabama, Memphis, Ole Miss, Xavier, Oregon State, and Rutgers among others.

However, in a recent interview regarding his recruitment with Jake Weingarten of StockRisers, Smith mentioned that he is receiving interest from programs such as Texas Tech, Florida, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College, Miami (FL), Clemson, and others.

But the big reveal was that Duke and Kansas have also reached out to the 6-foot-9 power forward, as he explained, “Duke’s Nate James has talked to my coach a little bit, nothing serious. Kansas is a little more serious, they like my overall game a lot.”

Could the Duke basketball program actually pursue the fast-rising recruit?

It seems unlikely that the Blue Devils will make any serious push for Jai Smith as he also explained to Weingarten that he could end up back in the Class of 2021 with another reclassification, but no plans have yet to be finalized.

This is telling, because it would make sense for Duke to have no serious interest in a three-star prospect, ranked as the No. 161 player in the Class of 2022, according to the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, who could jump back to the Class of 2021.

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Krzyzewski is set on finishing his Class of 2021 crop, and nothing will change that focus from the Hall of Famer.

Could Duke re-engage if Jai Smith stays in the junior class?

Sure, but I certainly would not count on it.

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