When it comes to true centers in the 2022 NCAA Basketball recruiting class, the consensus top big is Jalen Duren, a top-3 overall prospect. Other consensus five-star big men includes Adem Bona and Vince Iwuchukwu, listed in the top-25 overall according to 247sportsComposite. But when the rankings are updated, expect a young man named Dereck Lively to join them among the elite.
Lively already was getting attention in the 2022 class, a 7’1 big man out of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania that is a top-50 overall prospect and the fourth-best center in the class. But compared to the other three, he was flying under the radar a bit.
That changed this past month. While Duren was solidifying his status as the best overall big man, Lively was getting a ton of attention for his great play at the HoopGroup Southern Jam Fest. He showed a dominant offensive game and great defense, with the production matching the already known about measurement and athleticism.
For teams looking for a top big man that eventually misses out on Duren, Lively wouldn’t be a bad secondary option at all. And there already are several programs aggressively targeting the class of 2022 prospect. Here’s a way-too-early look at how he’d fit with each option and what they have to offer.
Duke Blue Devils
The frontcourt for the Blue Devils is a little thin about losing transfers Henry Coleman and Jaemyn Brakefield. They still have sophomore center Mark Williams, along with grad transfer Theo John and top-3 freshman forward Paolo Banchero whenever they go small. There’s a great chance that all three will be gone after next season, do expect the program to be targeting several big men prospects.
Right now, Duren and Duke aren’t likely to happen. So as long as they don’t land Bona or Iwuchukwu either, this could be a spot where Lively comes in and starts, barring a grad transfer with a big reputation coming in a year from now. Many big men who pick the Blue Devils end up going to the NBA and if Lively continues to develop, he’ll end up projected to follow that route.