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Coach K scouts class of '06

About this time three years ago, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was putting the finishing touches on one of the most anticipated recruiting classes in Duke history. Featuring six top-100 recruits and four McDonald’s All-Americans, the class of 2002 has not disappointed thus far, accounting for at least three of the Blue Devils’ projected starters this season.

Looking ahead to 2006, however, the departures of the last of the so-called “Super Six” will generate a huge void in productivity and leadership for the Blue Devils. As it stands currently, Duke will have just having six scholarship players on the 2006-2007 roster. With that in mind, Krzyzewski has acted quickly in identifying possible Duke recruits for the class of 2006.

Topping the list of potential targets is shooting guard Gerald Henderson Jr. of Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pa., the son of former NBA player Gerald Henderson Sr. Episcopal Academy head coach Dan Dougherty said Wake Forest, Villanova, Notre Dame, North Carolina State and North Carolina are also recruiting Henderson, who is also one of the nation’s top golfers. He added that the Blue Devils are interested enough in Henderson that they sent assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski to his school this week.

Rated the No. 17 prospect in his class by theinsiders.com, Henderson has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s top scorers.

“Gerald Henderson is probably more of an all-around kind of guard whose strength is his mid-range game,” said Dave Telep, recruiting analyst for theinsiders.com. “This is a guy who can score.”

Joining Henderson on Duke’s list of targets is Glenbrook North (Ill.) combination guard Jon Scheyer. Scheyer, whom Duke has already offered a scholarship, has a floor game that has attracted other scholarship offers from schools around the country.

“[Duke’s coaching staff] thinks he’s their kind of player, and he fits their mold of being a real competitive, hard-nosed smart player,” Glenbrook North coach Dave Weber said.

Rated No. 21 in the class of 2006, the 6-foot-5, 175-pound guard has also received a scholarship offer from Illinois, which Weber says is currently recruiting Scheyer the hardest.

In addition to stabilizing the backcourt—Duke currently projects having just two guards for the 2006-2007 season—Krzyzewski may also attempt to bolster Duke’s frontcourt with a number of talented forward and center prospects.

One of those recruits, power forward Lance Thomas, has earned rave reviews for his maturity on and off the court.

“If he wants something, he’s going to work at it and that goes into the classroom, too,” said Dan Doherty, Thomas’ former coach at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. “I’ve had [North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek] say he’d never seen a kid work like that.”

That attitude has propelled Thomas into the upper echelon of recruits, with a long scholarship offer list that includes Arizona, Connecticut, Wake Forest, Kansas and Georgia Tech, which called Doherty the day after the national championship game to offer him a scholarship. Despite his long list of suitors, however, several schools do appear to stand out in his recruitment.

“I know Arizona was always his school that he rooted for when he was younger, and I think [he favors] Georgia Tech and Wake Forest more because of the amount of time they put into him,” Doherty said. “After his freshman year... I asked him, ‘Lance, pick any school you want to go to,’ and he did say Duke at that time.”

Joining him at Duke could be 7-footer Brian Zoubek, a cerebral center with deft footwork. Although he is not the most athletic player in the class, Zoubek—whose aunt attended Duke—could become a potent force in the paint, Telep said.

“The thing about Brian Zoubek is getting more mobile, getting faster, and getting a lot quicker inside,” Telep said. “But this is a guy who’s going to be consistent and a reliable scorer inside the paint.”

According to theinsiders.com, Zoubek’s two favorites are currently Duke and Stanford, neither of which have offered him a scholarship. He is currently ranked No. 25 in his class.

James Keefe, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward from Santa Margarita, Calif., also awaits a Duke scholarship offer. Keefe, who checks in at No. 12 on theinsiders.com’s class of 2006 rankings, has already attracted interest from high-major programs all over the country.

“He is athletic, kind of long body, he rebounds well—those are the things the big-time D-1 schools are saying. They say he could play at the three or four,” said Santa Margarita high school (Calif.) coach Jerry DeBusk. “The college coaches say he plays every play. He just has a great motor.”

Because it is so early in the recruiting process, Keefe does not have a preferred collegiate destination, said DeBusk. He did, however, mention that the star power forward would visit Duke if the Blue Devils extended him a scholarship offer.

Jake Poses contributed to this story.

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