Duke basketball officially enters fray for yet another No. 1 recruit

Duke basketball coaches Jon Scheyer and Chris Carrawell (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball coaches Jon Scheyer and Chris Carrawell (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball has joined the Naasir Cunningham race.

The Duke basketball program has ended up with the No. 1 recruit on the 247Sports Composite three times since 2014 (Jahlil Okafor, Marvin Bagley III, RJ Barrett). And as things stand in 2022, the Duke Blue Devils would add to that count when they welcome the current top-ranked prep senior, five-star center Dereck Lively II, to campus in the summer.

Now, looking ahead to 2024, they are officially pursuing the presumed No. 1 prospect when the 247Sports 2024 Composite debuts: Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) small forward Naasir Cunningham, a teammate to Duke’s top 2023 target in five-star small forward Mackenzie Mgbako.

The 6-foot-7, 180-pound slick five-star, who sits atop the Rivals 150 for his class and already holds roughly a dozen offers, announced the Duke offer on social media following his FaceTime chat with Blue Devil head coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer on Sunday afternoon.

A relatively early Duke basketball recruiting chase

Naasir Cunningham is the first among this crop of high school sophomores to receive an offer from the Blue Devils.

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Rewind to this time last year. At that point, the staff in Durham hadn’t even yet extended a 2022 offer — then juniors — much less 2023.

Sure, as is now understandable in hindsight, part of the reason for Duke’s guarded early efforts on the 2022 recruiting trail was Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s uncertainty about his future beyond the 2021-22 season. Still, this high-profile early offer to Cunningham must signify that the Blue Devils like what they see.

Meanwhile, Duke enjoys the top spot on the 2022 and 2023 247Sports Team Rankings. Naturally, should Jon Scheyer manage a commitment from Cunningham down the road, the 34-year-old recruiting magnet could be in an ideal position to string together three top-ranked hauls — or perhaps even more — to begin his career.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on the Blue Devils’ pursuit of Naasir Cunningham, plus other Duke basketball recruiting news and views.