With the final signing date for college basketball a little over a month away, the final top recruits will soon don school colors and choose a place to spend their college careers. Though one could argue that Mike Krzyzewski just landed his most important “recruit” in Tre Jones, there are still some names that could complete the Blue Devils’ 2019-20 roster.
Krzyzewski has always had a tendency to add one final player in the spring after the season ends, from Derryck Thornton to Marques Bolden to Trevon Duval. The return of Jones may remove the defending ACC champs from getting another guard, but expect at least one of these names to be in Durham come this fall.
Matthew Hurt, (No. 10 in 2019, PF)
Hurt has made it clear to coaches for a while that his recruiting process was going to be a long one, but finally the sharpshooting forward has set a decision date. The Minnesota native will decide on April 19th between blue bloods Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas. Hurt visited Durham back in January for the Blue Devils’ win over Virginia.
Although Duke’s frontcourt seems crowded with three returning seniors and prized recruit Vernon Carey Jr., the potential addition of Hurt could add a much needed element to next year’s team. The 6-foot-9 forward has a clean shooting touch lacked by current Blue Devil bigs, and could even play small forward if needed.
Hurt also created some buzz after posting a comment to a Tre Jones’ recent Instagram post with the caption “Year 2?”. The two Minnesota natives could be hinting at a possible dynamic pick and pop duo if Hurt decided to commit, as he commented “My guy” to Jones.
R.J. Hampton, (No. 5 in 2020, PG)
After much talk about a possible reclassification, Adam Zagoria reported that Hampton and his family are strongly considering moving to the 2019 class, and have his current list of schools with Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Memphis. After Jones’ return, it almost surely spells no Hampton for Duke fans in 2019, but could still land the point guard as a headliner in the 2020 class.
According to Zagoria, the Texas native would only want to make a move to the 2019 class if he could be a focal point of the team. Although Hampton can knock down a trey now and then, he isn’t a knockdown shooter from outside, leaving no room to play him as a shooting guard next to Jones.
Note: On Monday after Jones' official announcement, Hampton told Jason Jordan of USA Today that playing with another elite point guard would be "the more attractive option."
Trendon Watford, (No. 22 in 2019, PF)
Despite coming late to the party, the Blue Devils are still very involved with Watford as his decision date looms. The Birmingham, Alabama native will make his college choice on April 20th, the day after Hurt, and decide between Duke, LSU, Indiana, Memphis, and Alabama. Watford had trimmed his final list to the latter four schools in December, but added the Blue Devils later in February as they showed more interest.
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Though some of the coaching staff has visited with the 6-foot-9, 230 pounder, there haven’t been any confirmed reports of an official visit or even scholarship offer. A commitment a day earlier by Hurt seems like it would all but rule out Watford in Durham, and reports say that Alabama is making an all out push to keep Watford in his home state.
Kira Lewis Jr., (Transfer, PG)
After Avery Johnson was relieved of his duties as Alabama’s head coach, heads turned to Lewis as a potential transfer. The former four star recruit wouldn’t necessarily impact next year’s squad, as he would have to sit one year and Jones has returned, but Lewis has had some connections to Duke early.
Shortly after Johnson’s departure, the Alabama native entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal. Corey Evans reported that Duke was one of the early programs to reach out and gauge interest from Lewis, and the official team Instagram account even followed him.
Lewis averaged 13.5 points and 2.9 assists per game in his freshman season, and took over as one of the Crimson Tide’s main playmakers late in the season. The youngest player in D-1 basketball last year, Lewis turned 18 in early April and has plenty of potential. Look for the Blue Devils to ramp up their pursuit if Hampton decides to reclassify and choose a different school.
Note: On Monday evening, Lewis announced that he will return to Alabama next fall.