Busting Brackets

Duke Basketball: Which recruits are the Blue Devils targeting in 2017?

Feb 25, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils fans cheer prior to a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils fans cheer prior to a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Duke basketball and head coach Mike Krzyzewski continue to recruit at an elite level.

At 69 years of age, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has turned into a recruiting wizard, landing big signing after big signing.

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With the summer winding down, Coach K is coming off his third consecutive gold medal in the Olympics. His consistency at the national level has definitely been a factor in the big name signings Duke has pulled off over the years.

The Blue Devils have had the first overall recruiting classes in both 2014 and 2015. While the Blue Devils have the second overall recruiting class in 2016, it is arguably the best group of guys Coach K has ever put together.

The 2017 class is aiming to be no different. When Duke coaches recruit these days, they are looking for numerous NBA quality talents that can compare to what Kentucky is landing.

So let’s break down who the Blue Devils are in pursuit of.

The biggest target for the Blue Devils in 2017 is Wendell Carter, a 6-foot-10 power forward out of Atlanta, Georgia. Duke, Kentucky and Harvard are actively in the mix for the big man. It says a lot about the Carter and his value for academics that he is considering the Crimson.

Carter is the 4th overall prospect in 2017, according to 247sports, and Duke is heavily favorited to reel in his services.

Package deals are not very likely in college basketball recruiting, but for Duke, they were able to benefit from Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones deciding to lock arms.

The potential for that is great again as Carter and Gary Trent Jr. have guaranteed that they will be attending the same school. With Carter’s heavily leaning towards Duke, this would also put Trent in the same boat.

Trent is a tremendous all-around scorer, averaging 25.9 points per game during his junior season at Apple Valley (another notable Dukie, Tyus Jones, went to the same school). For his senior year, Trent transferred to Findlay Prep.

Mohamed Bamba is the 3rd overall player in the class of 2017, according to 247sports. While he is currently heavily favored to pick Duke, Kentucky has recently been reported as a program that is coming on strong.

At 6-foot-11, 207 pounds, Bamba needs to add strength. Bamba is incredibly long though, as he has a 7-foot-8 wingspan, and can run the court like a gazelle. His athleticism is what sets him apart from other big men in this class.

Unfortunately, Duke has yet to offer Bamba, but that could change relatively soon.

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With the likely exits of Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum to the NBA and Matt Jones to graduation, it leaves a bit of a gap at the shooting guard and small forward position for Duke.

Luke Kennard will be returning but he can’t handle both spots. That’s where Kevin Knox comes in. The 6-foot-8 small forward is the 8th overall player in the class. Knox is a strong defender and works hard on that end of the floor

Knox has good versatility and is a very well rounded player. He has offers from Duke, Florida State and North Carolina but appears to be leaning heavily towards Coach K.

Quade Green is going to be extremely important to this recruiting class as he is the fourth overall point guard listed, and the 25th overall player in the class.

Every team needs a true point guard, and that was one of Duke’s main weaknesses in 2015-16. Green is new to the point guard realm, but has caught on rather quickly. He is a good scorer already, but he has developed into a great passer too, averaging 10.5 assists during the EYBL spring season.

The Blue Devils just offered 4-star shooting guard Jermaine Samuels on August 23rd. In the same tone, Duke offered 4-star shooting guard Alex McConnell (*It was later announced that McConnell is expected to commit to Duke*). They are also in pursuit of Deng Gak, a 6-foot-11 center out of Blair Academy.

Duke is now known for recruiting one and dones, so with offers out to these three previously mentioned four star recruits, it appears the Blue Devils are after a couple of things.

The first is some stability for the future. They don’t want to end up in the same situation that they found themselves in last year – where a player hurts himself and then the rotation becomes thin.

With that in mind, it appears they are also after depth. Coach K doesn’t like to run with a large rotation, but realizes his players get worn down by the end of the season. Adding a few minutes for role players here and there will help to keep the guys fresh for the end of the season.

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Duke also reportedly has extended offers to Hamidou Diallo, Tremont Waters and D.J. Harvey Jr. But these three players appear to be off the Blue Devils’ radar at this point. Regardless of missing out on these talents, Duke is building another monster recruiting class.