by Brian Horace
Recruiting has always been a very fickle and very fluid process and the “in” team one year may not be the “in” team the next. The Duke Blue Devils have been riding a wave of recruiting wins for the past several years. Most of Duke’s huge recruiting wins were at the hands of former associate head coach Jeff Capel who has since migrated to Pitt. Most fans expected a drop-off in recruiting and with a string of misses coupled with a lot of the top prospects waiting to see how rosters will shake out fans have already begun to assume the worst.
The first domino was the reclassification of point guard Nico Mannion from the class of 2020 to 2019, almost assuring that Duke would no longer be the landing spot for the West Coast prospect who last week cut his list down to 2 with Duke not being among the finalists (Arizona and Marquette).
Armando Bacot, who Duke courted, cooled on and tried to rekindle chose to sign with the North Carolina Tar Heels, and while Duke was not considered the favorite to land the big man, he would have been a nice addition to a class that will need to land at least one big going into next year.
The biggest perceived miss was that of SG Bryan Antoine, long considered Duke’s to lose chose the Villanova Wildcats shortly after a visit to the Philadelphia school. Antoine is one of the top guards in the 2019 class and may be the beginning of a huge class for National Champion coach Jay Wright.
Duke still has time to right the ship, after a whirlwind of in-home visits to 2019 prospects, Duke is attempting to solidify their position. Duke will most likely lose at very least, going into next year, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson. Duke could very well lose more depending on how the year plays out. Tre Jones is a player that like his brother, has the ability and opportunity to play himself into a possible NBA Draft spot. At this point in the recruiting process, getting a second year out of Tre Jones would be a welcome occurrence.
Duke still has their eye on several prospects in the class but which each week that passes without a signing the odds of the big class Duke was hoping for is shrinking. Duke is still involved with several high level prospects including 5 star point guard Josiah James, who has Duke in his top 4 along with Clemson, Tennessee and Michigan State. Josiah is expected to visit Duke on September 27th and will have an in-home visit with the Duke staff for Wednesday September 12th. Duke also is in the hunt for 3 big men in the class including Vernon Carey, Isaiah Steward and Matthew Hurt.
Small forward Wendell Moore is also on the radar for the Devils and will visit the same weekend as James. Hurt an Carey both received in-home visit from Duke this past week. A new name entering the fray for Duke is guard Lester Quinones who Duke recently watched, after losing out on Antoine, Quinones may be a name that the Devils turn to next.
Duke will need to land 2-4 prospects to consider this a successful haul, even with the amount of talent expected to be back in Durham, recruiting is top priority for coaches right now.