Duke basketball ex-signee struggling mightily to begin college career

Former Duke basketball signee Mackenzie Mgbako (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Former Duke basketball signee Mackenzie Mgbako (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

It’s been a tough start to the season for former Duke basketball commit Mackenzie Mgbako. 

Mackenzie Mgbako was the most heralded player that was supposed to enter the Duke basketball program this offseason before he requested his release from his National Letter of Intent.

He was ranked as the No. 8 player in the Class of 2024, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, but things have not gone well for him after landing at Indiana over Kansas, St. John’s, and Louisville since his decommitment.

Prior to the season, Mgbako was arrested in Bloomington on two Class A misdemeanor charges at a local Taco Bell but no public punishment was enforced by the team.

On the court, it has been a struggle for the McDonald’s All-American to get used to the college game after averaging 5.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game through the first five games of the season for the Hoosiers.

Mgbako was limited to a season-low nine minutes on Monday night in Indiana’s game against Louisville, in which he scored four points.

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The best game of the season for the 6-foot-8 forward came against Wright State in which he finished with 13 points and five rebounds. If not for that performance against Raiders, Mgbako would not have scored more than four points in a game this season.

He’s 8-of-25 from the field and 1-of-13 from 3-point range and Indiana head coach Mike Woodson recently tried to temper expectations for the highly regarded prospect.

“He’s a young player, man,” Woodson said in his postgame press conference after Indiana’s victory on Monday.

“I mean, all of you guys expect him to be this great player right now because he’s got this five-star tag on him. I think that’s bulls—.”

Former Duke basketball signee struggling among peers

The players ranked ahead of Mackenzie Mgbako in the 247Sports rankings that opted to play in college — Isaiah Collier, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, DJ Wagner, and Cody Williams — all have better, and more efficient, stats than Mgbako.

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The only exception is Kentucky’s Aaron Bradshaw, who has not played yet this season due to injury.

Mgabko, the New Jersey native, was thought to be a one-and-done entering college but his name is quickly sliding off draft boards and will need to try and get comfortable with more daunting games awaiting on Indiana’s schedule.

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