Duke Basketball landed a major class of 2021 prospect of Paolo Banchero. How does this affect the Blue Devils and everyone else involved?
It’s hard to envision Duke Basketball ever as true underdogs in a recruiting battle for five-star prospects but among neutral observers, that was the case for Paolo Banchero, a consensus top-five overall class of 2021 forward and surefire “one and done” college recruit.
The Blue Devils were one of six finalists for Banchero when he shortened his list of suitors a few months ago. Washington was the local option for the Seattle area native, while Gonzaga is arguably the top program in all of the west coast. Arizona was Banchero’s favorite team growing up and came late into the picture, while the Kentucky Wildcats were viewed by some as the odds-on favorites if the forward did choose the college route.
Then there was the Tennessee Volunteers, who didn’t have a clear connection with Banchero until you consider his close relationship with fellow five-star prospect Kennedy Chandler. There have been rumors about these two being a package deal and when Chandler picked the Vols earlier this week, it looked as if they vaulted into the favorites to land the forward.
But Banchero, whose decision seemingly came out of nowhere, proved to be different than what everyone expected.
Unless you’re a die-hard Blue Devils fan, this move came at a complete surprise. The consensus viewpoint from recruiting experts after Chandler’s decision was that Banchero was either Tennessee or Kentucky bound. But this just proves that you can never discount Coach K or the coaching staff when it comes to landing coveted players.
There’s plenty to take away from this decision that’ll have ramifications for not only the Blue Devils but for the other contenders. Here’s a closer analysis of what this all means, as well as what Duke Basketball will be up to next.