Duke basketball, UNC commits not letting “rivalry” affect family relationship

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

The Duke basketball and North Carolina rivalry will not impact two commits’ relationship. 

The rivalry is intense between the Duke basketball program and the North Carolina Tar Heels but two future participants in college basketball’s best rivalry will not let the outside noise affect their relationship.

Blue Devil pledge Mackenzie Mgbako and Tar Heel commit Simeon Wilcher signed their National Letters of Intent on Tuesday afternoon at Roselle Catholic High School (NJ) and both expressed that their friendship will prevail through the rivalry.

“It’s going to be that same way, we going to stay a family. That’s all there is to it.” Mgbako said about facing Wilcher and North Carolina next season.


Mgabko is listed as a five-star recruit, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, as well as the No. 5 player in the Class of 2023, top power forward in his class, and third best prospect in the state of New Jersey.

Duke holds the second best recruiting class in the nation as five-star forward Sean Stewart, five-star guard Caleb Foster, five-star guard Jared McCain, and five-star forward TJ Power join Mackenzie Mgbako in Durham next season.

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Simeon Wilcher, the headliner in North Carolina’s two-man recruiting class, is also listed as a five-star prospect and the No. 19 player in the country. Four-star forward Zayden High joins Wilcher in the No. 28 class in the nation for the Tar Heels.

“It’s bigger than basketball, so we’re not going to let the quote-unquote [Duke-North Carolina] rivalry get into our relationship because that’s my brother at the end of the day,” Wilcher explained.

“We’re going to go to war forever.”

Duke basketball, North Carolina familiar with high school teammates

The two elite players who are teaming up at Roselle Catholic this season are the first set of teammates to play their college basketball on Tobacco Road since Archbishop Stepinac’s (NY) Adrian Griffin Jr. (Duke) and RJ Davis (North Carolina).

ALSO READ: Duke loses top recruiting ranking to blue blood rival

Griffin Jr. only spent one season with the Blue Devils as he was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks while Davis is currently in his junior season with the Tar Heels.

Many eyes from Tobacco Road will be on New Jersey this season as Mackenzie Mgbako and Simeon Wilcher headline one of the best high school teams in the country this winter.

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