Duke basketball staff shows special attention to 5-star target

Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Three Duke basketball coaches headed south to visit a high-octane prospect.

On Friday, Duke basketball chief-in-waiting Jon Scheyer plus assistants Chris Carrawell and Nolan Smith were in Columbia, S.C. The reason? It must have been to check in on Ridge View High School prep sensation Gregory Jackson, a five-star power forward who ranks No. 16 overall on the 247Sports 2023 Composite.

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By the looks of the school’s tweet of appreciation that came shortly after the Blue Devil staff’s early morning visit, Scheyer and his cohorts enjoyed a front-row seat at halfcourt as the only Jackson suitors in attendance:

Since an unofficial visit to Durham in June, the 6-foot-9, 210-pounder has been weighing his Duke basketball offer. But Jackson is on the wishlist of more than a dozen programs, including a few others from the ACC. Although the Crystal Ball remains empty, other possible frontrunners appear to be hometown favorite South Carolina and two of Duke’s Tobacco Road foes, UNC and NC State.

During an interview earlier this week, Jackson implied to Rivals national basketball recruiting analyst Jamie Shaw that the Duke basketball offer came from Hall of Famer and five-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski, who plans to retire after the upcoming season. And the coveted recruit suggested it was a story that he will probably never forget:

“It was pretty shocking when I got that offer. When we went up there, Coach K sat us down in his office, and it seemed like everything was going in slow motion as he was saying the words. It was a very emotional moment, a big blessing.”

Jackson has neither named finalists in his recruitment nor given a timeline for making a decision.

What the Duke basketball recruiters likely see in Gregory Jackson

Gregory Jackson’s solid frame and aggressive game bring to mind the 2020-21 ACC Rookie of the Year in one-and-done Florida State forward and current Toronto Raptors newbie Scottie Barnes.

Here’s the latest assessment of Jackson’s overall repertoire from Jamie Shaw:

“Jackson is just scratching the surface of his immense talent. Already in the 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 range, the long-armed Jackson has a lot of pop in his game…His ball skills have developed as he is breaking his man down off the bounce and pushing the break now.”

Shaw continued:

“The jump shot is still coming along, and he has a lot of confidence in it, especially off the bounce. Jackson is tough to guard from 10 feet and in as his touch and pop give him a high and soft release.”

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The Duke Blue Devils have already snagged one commit from the 2023 recruiting trail in Oak Hill (Va.) five-star point guard Caleb Foster, who ranks No. 12 overall in the class. At this juncture, the staff in Durham seems to be actively pursuing Gregory Jackson in addition to Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) five-star small forward Mackenzie Mgbako and Kenwood (Ill.) five-star small forward JJ Taylor.