One of the benefits of having three top-flight verbal commitments this early in a recruiting season is that it allows a coach to focus his efforts on coercing just one or two additional star players to join his team. And with one of the nation's top five high school seniors on campus this weekend, head coach Mike Krzyzewski intends to do just that.
Brandan Wright could be the piece de resistance in a Blue Devil recruiting class that already features combination guard Jon Scheyer, guard/forward Gerald Henderson and center Brian Zoubek, all ranked among the nation's top 50 players according to scout.com. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward, ranked fifth in his class, brings a combination of length, athleticism and versatility to the court that few in his class-or anywhere-possess.
"He's just a very all-rounded player," said George Pitts, Wright's high school coach at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tenn. "He plays center for us, but at times he brings the ball up for us.... He passes well, understands the game well, [he's a] terrific defender. If we need him to score 40, he can score 40, but he's very unselfish."
Perhaps as important, the blue-chip recruit is just as impressive off the court as he is on it.
"He's a super, outstanding young man," Pitts said. "He's the kind of kid that the teachers at our school really battle over getting him in class."
Those qualities have wowed coaches from elite programs all over the nation, garnering him scholarship offers from the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and, of course, Duke. Assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski has been in constant contact with Pitts and Wright, Pitts said.
And fortunately for Krzyzewski, Wright has been reciprocating interest in the Blue Devils, who are one of five finalists for his services along with Kentucky, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Louisville.
"He wants to go where they can contend for a championship, and he wants to go to a school that has other good players, and he wants to go and play for a coach that can make him the best he can possibly be," Pitts said.
He added that the Duke coaches' ability to develop players' bodies and skill sets would factor into Wright's decision.
A verbal commitment from Wright could provide Duke with the talent necessary to make a championship run after the departure of seniors J.J. Redick, Sean Dockery, Lee Melchionni and Shelden Williams this year. In addition, Wright would provide valuable post depth that could ensure Duke's strength up front in case power forward Josh McRoberts, the nation's top incoming freshman, decides to declare for the NBA draft following this year.
According to Pitts, the Blue Devils have as good a shot as any of the other four finalists at landing Wright.
"I think he's wide open; I don't think anybody's clear-cut," he said. "One, two, or three-I don't know any more than anybody else."
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