Duke basketball signee Paolo Banchero faces fellow five-star forward

Duke basketball signee Paolo Banchero (USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball signee Paolo Banchero (USA TODAY Sports) /

A soon-to-be Duke basketball sensation held his own versus top competition.

It’s no exact science. Yet battles between five-stars do provide a clearer picture of what to expect from said five-stars on the college level. However, in the case of Saturday’s individual matchup for future Duke basketball big man Paolo Banchero, the 247Sports Crystal Ball forecasts his five-star foe, Hillcrest Prep (Az.) power forward Michael Foster, to bypass the NCAA via the G League.

Taking part in MADE Hoops Cactus League play in Phoenix with his Seattle Rotary club team, Banchero, an early Blue Devil signee who now ranks No. 3 overall on the 247Sports 2021 Composite and No. 1 among power forwards, squared off against Foster, who ranks No. 15 overall and No. 5 at the position.

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As for who came out on top (highlight reel below), well, Foster’s squad notched the 81-71 win, thanks in large part to nine straight points from its strongman in the final two minutes. That said, Banchero’s stat line was as impressive as that of his five-star counterpart.

According to a Sunday morning tweet from SI recruiting insider Jason Jordan summarizing what he termed the “Clash of the Titans,” Foster finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks; meanwhile, Banchero totaled 29 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.

Assessment of the probable Duke basketball one-and-done

Paolo Banchero’s signature plays against Michael Foster should have Blue Devils salivating.

Seconds after losing the opening tip, Banchero muscled up to stuff Foster’s 3-point attempt. He then took the ball the length of the floor for a smooth opening score, weaving around his fellow 6-foot-9 bruiser in the process.

Moments later, Banchero used his soft touch and advanced footwork to once again find a bucket around the rim. Shortly thereafter, the 18-year-old Seattle native splashed a three from the top of the key.

The rest of the way showcased much of the same versatility from Banchero on offense:

  • A 3-point swish from the corner, in the face of Foster, following a sly pump fake
  • A nifty double spin-move resulting in a sweet turnaround jumper from the high post
  • A silky midrange fadeaway
  • Several strong, attack-mode drives to the hoop

Plus, on the other end of the floor, it looks as if most of Banchero’s blocks and disruptions in the paint came while guarding Foster. In other words, if not for Banchero’s quick hands and revved-up motor on defense, Foster probably would have gone off for 40 or more.

Yes, all in all, it’s obvious Duke basketball fans are about nine months away from watching the next in a long line of phenomenal athletes and scoring gems to come through Durham.

Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have also already snagged some significant help for Banchero next season in Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) five-star small forward AJ Griffin, who ranks No. 7 overall in the class.

Furthermore, three more five-star seniors remain on the Duke basketball radar, and each sits inside the top 30: Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. at No. 4, Paul VI (Va.) shooting guard Trevor Keels at No. 20, and IMG (Fla.) center Charles Bediako at No. 26.

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