Duke’s abrupt disqualification from last week’s ACC tournament may have been the last straw in a disappointing 2020-21 campaign, but the Blue Devils already have a head start on the competition next season with a pair of commitments from five-star recruits Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin. Already positioned for success, Duke’s outlook could brighten even further as a host of other top prospects make their decisions this spring.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. (No. 4, SF, 2021)
Duke has long been linked to Baldwin, the fourth-ranked high school basketball recruit and top positional player in the class of 2021. The five-star recruit is still considering offers from Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Michigan and UW-Milwaukee, but the consensus is that he will ultimately choose between the Blue Devils and UW-Milwaukee, where he would have the unique opportunity to play for his father as head coach. Baldwin’s decision has hardly progressed since our last recruiting roundup, with experts still split on where the Sussex, Wisc. native will end up and his father recently telling WTMJ’s Scott Warras that he has “no idea” when a decision will be finalized. Until then, Blue Devil faithful can only hope for the best.
Trevor Keels (No. 20, PG, 2021)
Duke’s other five-star prospect seems less likely by the day to choose the Blue Devils as his next team. Just days after 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predicted that the No. 20 recruit in the class of 2021 would wind up at “Guard U” under the tutelage of Jay Wright at Villanova, Tipton Edits reported Sunday that Keels would announce his college decision April 4th. With Kentucky and Virginia still in the running as well and taking note of the likely return of freshman backcourt duo DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach, it would be surprising to see Keels suit up for the Blue Devils come winter.
Update: Keels received an additional Crystal ball prediction in favor of the Blue Devils Tuesday morning, per Tipton Edits, adding a touch more uncertainty to the prospect’s looming announcement.
TyTy Washington (No. 30, PG, 2021)
Elsewhere, four-star point guard and No. 30 ranked high school recruit in the class of 2021 TyTy Washington recently decommitted from Creighton following racially insensitive comments made by head coach Greg McDermott. Later that same day, Tipton Edits reported on Twitter that Duke was among a slew of high-profile schools to contact the Chandler, AZ product, but no formal offer has been made since. Heavily recruited in the last week alone, it should become clear before long whether the Blue Devils are truly a contender for Washington’s services in 2021.
Justin Powell (Auburn, PG, Freshman)
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Should they miss out on Keels, the Blue Devils would still appear to have options to add backcourt depth this offseason. Former Auburn guard and ESPN’s second-ranked transfer prospect Justin Powell recently entered the transfer portal, where he was rumored to have been contacted by the Blue Devils. The former three star guard – who posted 11.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game, and shot an attention-grabbing 44.2% from deep in his limited run for the Tigers – debunked this last week, telling 247Sports that nobody from Duke had reached out to him at that point. Both Kentucky and Louisville are speculated to be strong suitors for the rising sophomore and Kentucky native, but it would not appear that any sort of decision is imminent.
Al Durham (Indiana, PG, Senior)
Durham, the aptly named senior point guard for the Hoosiers this season, told 247Sports he would enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer following Indiana’s dismissal of head coach Archie Miller early Monday. Per Andrew Slater of the Athletic, The Blue Devils are among a long list of schools to reach out to the four year standout for the Hoosiers in wake of the news, as the Georgia native’s shooting and experience would add great value to an already talented Duke roster.
While a great deal hangs in the balance for the Blue Devils as these prospects finalize their decisions, Duke appears primed to contend in ACC play regardless behind the strength of what will be a veteran roster and two high-powered freshmen in Griffin and Banchero. Still, upcoming decisions from Baldwin, Keels and the like have the potential to solidify yet another remarkable recruiting class for head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.