Cooper Flagg, other Duke Basketball recruits show out at Jordan Brand Classic

Over the weekend, Cooper Flagg and other Duke Basketball recruits gave Blue Devil fans a look at what should be an exciting future in Durham.
Apr 1, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; McDonald's All American East forward Cooper Flagg speaks during a
Apr 1, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; McDonald's All American East forward Cooper Flagg speaks during a / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

While the world of the transfer portal has made every fan base look at the transfer pool as the primary way for their program to improve, the high school ranks still provide some big-time stars. Those top prep prospects were on display this weekend in Brooklyn, New York at the Jordan Brand Classic, and based on what took place, Duke basketball fans should be excited about the future in Durham.

Of course, the No. 1 player in the class of 2024, Cooper Flagg, was the primary draw. The 6-foot-9 Duke signee is one of the best prospects to come out of the high school ranks in years and on Saturday, he showed why.

Knocking down contested 3-pointers, finishing off alley-oops, and blocking shots into the stands, Flagg's entire game was on display. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and showed why most expect him to be the first overall pick in the 2025 NBA Draft.

The Florida prospect is the star of what could be one of the best recruiting classes in Duke history. He is a 5-star prospect who has a perfect 1.000 rating by 247Sports.

What's more, in the 2024 recruiting class, there are three other five-star players. Also playing in the Jordan Classic on Flagg's team was Darren Harris, a 4-star Duke signee who is the No. 51 overall player and No. 5 small forward in the nation.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Harris of being part of the next wave of talent to land on the shores of Durham. “Today was just a little taste of what we’re going to get for the future. I think we’re all unselfish, we’re all competitive, I think we’re all going to mesh really well together there.”

Of course, there is a transfer portal trend sweeping across the college basketball landscape. While Duke is going to be part of that process, the success that the next Blue Devil roster has will largely depend on the youngsters coming in from the prep ranks this year.

With seven veterans leaving the program via the portal and others heading to the NBA, head coach John Scheyer is bucking the trend and leaning into the youth movement. That's something that other programs, notably Kentucky, have tried in recent years only to fail to make significant noise in March.

Scheyer seems more than satisfied with that approach, though.

"There has to be some balance of course," he said after his team's second-round victory over James Madison in the NCAA Tournament "but you can't sit back and say, this is exactly what you need, because when you have a chance to bring in the freshmen that we did this year, or the freshmen for
next year, we're going to do that every day of the week. I think anybody would, if they could, or they tried to. But you still need experience and returning players. So for me, you try to find that balance."

Regardless whether or not the plan to rely on high school recruits brings a National Championship to Duke next year remains to be seen. But what we saw from Flagg at the Jordan Brand Classic is a reminder that, though the portal will be important this offseason, the future of Duke basketball is the incoming true freshmen who put on a show Saturday night and gave Blue Devil fans something to be excited about as they look toward next season.