Duke basketball gaining serious momentum in five-star recruiting race

Duke basketball (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball is swiftly approaching 100 percent inside one Crystal Ball.

With the latest pick favoring the Blue Devils that popped up on Wednesday, the 247Sports Crystal Ball shows the Duke basketball recruiters boasting a strong, growing advantage in their pursuit of Paul VI (Va.) five-star Trevor Keels, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound complete backcourt weapon and McDonald’s All-American who ranks No. 20 overall on the 247Sports 2021 Composite.

In terms of pick count, Duke now leads Villanova, 5-1, following the four it has picked up in just the past eight days alone, including one from national analyst Travis Branham.

As for the calculated Crystal Ball score, which factors in confidence levels in addition to the expertise levels of those who’ve made a selection, it’s an 88-12 edge. And some might decide to view this as roughly an 88 percent chance that Keels winds up playing his college ball in Durham next season.

Of course, others — namely, Villanova basketball fans — are free to call it all pure hogwash.

A quick 180 with respect to Duke basketball hopes

Less than two weeks have passed since the Crystal Ball was giving the clear edge to Villanova over Duke as well as the other two finalists in Kentucky and Virginia (neither of those two programs has ever received a Crystal Ball pick for Trevor Keels).

Now, it’s certainly worth mentioning that while the Crystal Ball is probably the best predictor out there when it comes to five-star prizes, it’s far from a perfect device.

Also, seeing that none of the entered predictions thus far display a confidence level above an eight out of 10 — not to mention the fact Keels has come across as considerably secretive in regards to his feelings throughout the recruiting process — there’s a reasonable chance none of the six insiders possess rock-solid intel.

Nevertheless, with about a week and a half remaining until Keels’ announced April 4 decision date, there’s no denying that pretty much all the momentum at least appears, for now, to be squarely on the side of 41st-year Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.

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Meanwhile, the Blue Devils are also continuing to chase two more five-star seniors in Hamilton (Wis.) small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. and IMG (Fla.) center Charles Bediako. Currently, Duke’s 2021 crop consists of only a pair of signees, albeit both O’Dea (Wash.) power forward Paolo Banchero and Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) small froward AJ Griffin are top 10 five-star prospects.