Duke basketball losing momentum for 5-star recruit

Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball program must wow Mark Mitchell during his coming visit.

Duke basketball chief-in-waiting Jon Scheyer and his cohorts still boast the top recruiting class on the 247Sports 2022 Team Rankings by a sizeable margin. But the supremacy of that haul, which features three top 10 prospects and a stock-raising 3-point sniper who altogether span positions two through five, could deter Sunrise Christian (Kan.) five-star small forward Mark Mitchell.

Understandably so, if that is indeed to be the case.

Still, though, the Duke Blue Devils maintain a strong Crystal Ball lead, with four experts predicting them to land Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound versatile weapon who ranks No. 16 overall on the 247Sports 2022 Composite. That said, as of Saturday, there’s now a Crystal Ball prediction that points to UCLA, maybe in part because Mitchell’s brother lives in Los Angeles.

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Yet before eventually picking a winner from his four finalists — Duke, Kansas, Missouri, UCLA — Mitchell wraps up his month-long slate of official visits with a return trip to Blue Devil Land this weekend. And that coincides with Friday’s Countdown to Craziness, which figures to be electric given the cancellation of the event last year and the absence of fans in the stands all last season.

Mitchell has been eyeing December as the earliest end to his recruitment.

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Again, Scheyer & Co.’s first-rate collection already consists of four-star shooting guard Jaden Schutt (currently ranks No. 56 on the 247Sports 2022 Composite), five-star small forward Dariq Whitehead (No. 5), five-star power forward Kyle Filipowski (No. 8), and five-star center Dereck Lively (No. 2).

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Add in that junior small forward Wendell Moore and freshman shooting guard Trevor Keels might well return to Durham next season. That’s not to mention senior small forward Joey Baker, who will have the option to play a fifth year due to the NCAA deciding not to count the 2020-21 season against anyone’s eligibility.

So it’s certainly possible — perhaps even bordering on probable at this point — that the stacked Duke basketball class and uncertainty about returnees will ultimately repel Mark Mitchell.

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On the other hand, remember this nugget: Jon Scheyer remains undefeated on the 2022 trail. Until the 34-year-old recruiting magnet loses a battle, it’d seem insane to count him out of any.