Duke basketball made major mistake not pursuing top 2021 recruit

Duke basketball (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball program made a major mistake not pursuing one of the best 2021 recruits.

Yes, the Duke basketball team could be sporting the best recruiting class in 2021, but the Blue Devils made a major mistake not seriously pursuing one of the top players in the class.

Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have already nailed down commitments and National Letters of Intent from five-star prospects AJ Griffin and Paolo Banchero and are considered the leaders for Trevor Keels and Patrick Baldwin, but what Chet Holmgren did on Thursday night made jaws drop around the country.

In a nationally televised battle against Class of 2022 top recruit and Michigan State pledge Emoni Bates, Holmgren went off for 31 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks in the 78-71 victory.

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Bates, who is suggested to be the best recruit since LeBron James, was still his dominant self after finishing with a game-high 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting.

However, it was the 7-foot-1, 195-pound forward who got the last laugh and took to social media to criticize those who doubted him entering the game.

Both players are intending to have one season at the collegiate level as Bates could reclassify into the Class of 2021 and Holmgren has narrowed his list down to seven: Minnesota, Michigan, Memphis, Georgetown, North Carolina, Ohio State, and Gonzaga.

Certainly, the forward from Minneapolis, Minnesota needs to put more muscle on before he makes the jump to the college or professional level, but it doesn’t make sense that Duke never was seen as a threat in his recruitment.

Why did Duke basketball not offer Chet Holmgren?

The Blue Devils were interested in Holmgren, and why wouldn’t they be, but Mike Krzyzewski never officially offered the gifted player and could very well see him at least two times next season with North Carolina.

Holmgren does rank one slot below Patrick Baldwin, a heavy Duke lean, on the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, which is the only recruiting-based site that does not have Holmgren at No. 1. But Duke fans know those rankings are far from perfect, placing Zion Williamson at No. 5 prior to his freshman season.

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Is the combination of Baldwin, Keels, Griffin, and Banchero enough to satisfy Coach K instead of the dominant presence of Holmgren?

Only time will tell, but after watching Chet Holmgren star on the national stage Thursday night, it seems like a big gamble for Duke not to have been heavily involved during his recruitment.

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