The college basketball recruiting season is beginning to turn Duke Blue.
Paolo Banchero, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2021 according to ESPN, chose the Blue Devils over Kentucky, Washington, Gonzaga, Arizona and Tennessee. Banchero, a 6-foot-8 center from O'Dea High School in Seattle, complements his size with an elite skill set that will bring the Cameron Crazies to their feet.
The announcement comes as a pleasant surprise for Duke and head coach Mike Krzyzewski, as many expected Banchero to choose Tennessee after Kennedy Chandler, the No. 12 recruit in the Class of 2021, committed to the Volunteers over the Blue Devils, among others.
The decision was surprising from a timing perspective as well, as Banchero tweeted his decision seemingly out of the blue on Thursday. However, during an interview with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi through Instagram after his commitment, Banchero stated that “I knew and I wanted to announce it. I did not want to waste any time.” The dynamic five-star also mentioned that the stress of the recruitment process made him eager to make it official once he knew where he wanted to attend college.
With the Seattle native being heavily sought after by high profile coaches nationwide, his commitment to Duke begged the question: What convinced Banchero to join the Blue Devils? Banchero particularly appreciated the “frequent contact from Coach K” and the large amount of “freedom they would give [him].” Banchero’s ability to score at multiple levels and facilitate establishes him as a major threat offensively. Biancardi feels that Banchero’s ability to make himself and his teammates better, along with his humble nature, make him a very talented prospect with a bright future.
Banchero joins fellow five-star A.J. Griffin in Duke’s recruiting class, establishing the Blue Devils as the only program with multiple top-10 commits. Blue Devil fans will be thrilled to hear that when Banchero was asked who he hopes will be joining him at Duke, he revealed his communication with Patrick Baldwin and Trevor Keels, both top-15 recruits themselves. Banchero smiled as he said “they are both people I would love to play with. So hopefully we can get that done.”
Banchero even mentioned that Krzyzewski has raved about his ability to “see the game,” and compared his basketball IQ to former Blue Devil Shane Battier. The respect clearly is mutual, as Banchero displays a deep admiration for the Duke coaching staff. All in all, Banchero feels that Duke can make another push for an ACC and national title once he arrives on campus.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.