Duke basketball recruiting win over Kentucky is now legit

Duke basketball recruiting rival John Calipari (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Duke basketball recruiting rival John Calipari (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

If not for Duke basketball, Kentucky basketball might have its dream class.

The Kentucky and Duke basketball coaches are the only ones holding commitments from three 2022 five-stars.

But the Duke Blue Devils, who also boast a high-level four-star in Yorkville Christian (Ill.) shooting guard Jaden Schutt, continue to reside at No. 1 overall on the 247Sports 2022 Team Rankings. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Wildcats and their three total prizes appear stuck at No. 6; in simpler terms, those using a smartphone may still need to scroll down to see them on the list.

Kentucky basketball recruiting enthusiasts admit defeat to Duke basketball?

In the only 2022 race that the two bluebloods have gone head-to-head in the end, it was the Duke basketball recruiting magicians who prevailed for Westtown (Pa.) five-star center Dereck Lively, a 7-foot-1, 220-pounder sitting No. 2 overall on the 247Sports 2022 Composite. They did so despite Kentucky being the presumed leader up until the recruitment’s homestretch in September.

ALSO READ: Jon Scheyer stuns the recruiting world, big time

Nevertheless, in typical fashion for a sizeable chunk of the Kentucky basketball fanbase, many folks in and around Lexington seemed to prefer painting a different picture.

At the time, Wildcat media members and fans alike insinuated that the school had its eyes squarely set on Prolific Prep (Calif.) center Adem Bona, who now ranks No. 19 among the nation’s current crop of high school seniors. Per various articles, tweets, and podcasts, they viewed the 6-foot-9, 255-pound five-star as a better fit for them than Lively anyway.

Well, after narrowing his list of suitors to Kentucky and UCLA in October, Bona announced on Monday that he’s staying in California to play for the Bruins.

So much for that “Kentucky didn’t care about losing out on Lively because Bona was the more important target” narrative. Even still, notice how Lexington Herald-Leader recruiting expert Ben Roberts worded the weeks-old Lively loss in an article reporting the Bona loss:

“Bona was already high on UK’s target board even before [Lively] announced his commitment to Duke over Kentucky in September, and the Wildcats were assumed by many to be the frontrunners for Bona after they lost out on Lively’s recruitment.”

No matter how any impartial observer slices it now, it sure looks like Kentucky suffered a massive recruiting loss to Duke before losing again to UCLA at the same position.

Maybe the Wildcats will eventually snag the preferred 2022 big man who is sure to be the one they wanted all along. They’re just not sure who that is yet.

Next. Predicting the 2023 Duke basketball recruiting class. dark

According to Ben Roberts, Travis Branham of 247Sports said Kentucky must now rely on the transfer route to fill its glaring five-spot need for the 2022-23 season.