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No reason to panic, Duke men's basketball will be just fine next season

<p>Zion Williamson surprised many with his commitment to Duke last January.</p>

Zion Williamson surprised many with his commitment to Duke last January.

If you have stayed up to date on Duke basketball's offseason, then you should be familiar with the fact that the Blue Devils still have no recruits yet for next year—zero. Why is this the case? 

There are two simple possible explanations for this. The first is that former associate head coach Jeff Capel, the man widely credited with attracting several talented players to Durham, left for Pittsburgh and is no longer leading Duke’s recruiting.

The other reason is that head coach Mike Krzyzewski could be nearing the end of his tenure at Duke. Many of the younger players who would normally spend four years developing now might have have no interest in wearing the blue and white since they might not see the court under Coach K.

Okay, I’m glad you’ve followed me this far. However, the Blue Devils are fine for next year and you don’t have to worry. Here’s why:

First off, let’s take a look at the Blue Devils' typical recruiting timeline starting with the Class of 2014, the first major one-and-done haul for Duke. Since 2014, Duke has had 20 top-25 recruits, according to ESPN’s rankings for those seasons. The breakdown of when they committed is as follows:

Before August of senior year in high school (early in cycle): Three commits

August: Two commits

September: Two commits

October: Zero commits

November: Seven commitments 

After November (late in cycle): Six commitments

Thirteen of the 20 recruits committed after October, including some of the Blue Devils' best recruits in Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Wendell Carter Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr., Brandon Ingram, and of course, the trio of Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor. 

"Oh, but this year is different." Some would say that Duke has been losing to other programs more often than usual, with top-25 recruits like Nico Mannion, Armando Bacot and Josiah James committing to Arizona, North Carolina and Tennessee, respectively, instead of the Blue Devils.

While this is true, Duke still has cast a wide net. The Blue Devils are in the running for five of the top 10 players in the Class of 2019, and are considered strong contenders for top point guard Cole Anthony, second-ranked center Vernon Carey Jr. and No. 18 overall prospect Wendell Moore. Also, don’t forget that Duke already had a Class of 2019 recruit in freshman Joey Baker, who committed last October, reclassified this spring to join the 2018-19 squad and will likely stay more than one year.

The other reason not to worry is that next season Duke will have arguably its largest veteran presence since the 2010 national championship team with the likely returns of seniors Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and Jack White, and juniors Alex O’Connell and Jordan Goldwire. 

Even if the Blue Devils only get two of the seven top-25 recruits still considering them, three of the above players would be more than capable of starting. Duke would also still have the other two, plus Baker and then-redshirt senior Justin Robinson.

In short, don’t worry about Duke’s recruiting just yet. The Blue Devils still have a high chance of fielding a formidable squad next season. If Duke still doesn’t have a recruit in January, then we can begin to worry, but as of Oct. 2, the 2019 recruiting cycle is not much different than any of the five that came before it.