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John Gasaway

Coach K will have five elite prospects join the Blue Devils next season, making school history in the one-and-done era. Barely.

Last week, five-star prospect Joey Baker announced that he was reclassifying to join the 2018 recruiting class and would enroll at Duke in the fall.

Baker’s decision means Mike Krzyzewski will enter 2018-19 with no fewer than five freshmen ranked in the top 40 of the 2018 ESPN 100. R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones and Baker will form the nucleus of a Blue Devils roster that has lost its entire starting five from last season.

Barrett, Williamson and Reddish are ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in the ESPN 100. (Jones is No. 17, and Baker clocks in at No. 39.) In other words, even by Duke’s recent lofty standards, this is one extreme abundance of talent.

If fact, the abundance raises a question. Is this the Blue Devils’ best recruiting class yet?

By “yet,” let’s first agree to narrow the discussion down to just the one-and-done era. This saves us from trying to compare contemporary players to the celebrated and indeed catalytic freshman class that arrived in Durham in the fall of 1982: Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, David Henderson and, of course, our good friend and colleague Jay Bilas. Clearly, no class could compare with that group. (Got that, Jay?)

Now, to measure the heft of a given recruiting class, I like to use the front-loaded sliding scale first proposed a few years back by Drew Cannon (who for the past few seasons has held the title of basketball operations analyst for the Boston Celtics). In Drew’s scheme, the No. 1 player in the nation was worth 10 points, the No. 25 prospect nets your program five points, the No. 50 player is worth three, and signing the No. 100 recruit gets you one point.

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