Is the Duke basketball program a safe bet to finish with the top 2021 haul?
At the moment, per 247Sports, the 2021 Duke basketball recruiting class ranks only No. 22 in the country,
No, the “22” isn’t a typo. Yes, despite pledges from the No. 3 and No. 6 prospects on the 247Sports 2021 Composite in power forward Paolo Banchero and small forward AJ Griffin, respectively, the Blue Devils still have plenty of ground to make up in the eyes of a ranking that clearly values quantity far more than quality.
Yet according to an article on Monday from 247Sports insider Eric Bossi, there remains a clear and quite possible path for Duke to finish above all the competition:
“The Blue Devils only have a two-man class so far, but five-star forward Paolo Banchero and five-star wing AJ Griffin are both heavy hitters who have the skill, positional size, and athleticism to make immediate impacts and should be considered potential one-and-done players.”
Bossi continued by alluding to the Duke basketball staff’s edge inside the 247Sports Crystal Ball for 2021’s No. 1 prize, a 6-foot-10, 205-pound silky small forward and renowned sharpshooter out of Wisconsin:
“Mike Krzyzewski and the Devils appear to be one of the favorites for [Patrick Baldwin Jr.], which would give the class a huge boost. Add any of the others on the board, and they may be tough to beat for the top spot.”
Others on the Duke basketball radar right now also happen to be five-stars: small forward Caleb Houstan, who ranks No. 8 and is down to Alabama, Duke, Michigan, and Virginia; shooting guard Trevor Keels, who ranks No. 16 and is down to Duke, Villanova, and Virginia; plus center Charles Bediako, who ranks No. 23 and is down to Alabama, Duke, Michigan, Ohio State, and Texas.
None of those three targets have specified an exact time for making final decisions, but all three have hinted at announcement dates arriving between now and the end of the November signing period. And of those three, it seems Coach K and his assistants stand the best shot to land Keels, a high-IQ sniper with sufficient versatility to play up to three positions in college.
Keels or Baldwin Jr. alone wouldn’t put the Duke basketball class at No. 1
Plugging Keels or Baldwin Jr. into the 247Sports class calculator for the Blue Devils still leaves the class with only a No. 2 ranking behind Florida State’s score of 66.19 (from four commits, consisting of two five-stars, one four-star, and one three-star).
That said, as things stand, in order to pass the Seminoles, all it would take for the Duke basketball recruiters is to secure a pledge from either Keels or Baldwin Jr. (or Houstan or Bediako) plus any three-star or higher. Of course, if they reeled in both Keels and Baldwin Jr., then they would easily rank No. 1 — for the time being, anyway.
Granted, there are still roughly six months before the late signing period. So several schools would seem to have ample time remaining to spring up the leaderboard. Bossi must have considered this when also laying out potential paths to the top spot in the end for Alabama (currently No. 13), Kentucky (No. 58), Villanova (No. 2), and of course, Florida State.
Keep in mind, though, that more than 75 percent of the top 100 prospects have already chosen destinations, meaning the opportunities for any class to boost its ranking are dwindling (and at a record pace).
If Coach K and his bunch do manage to prevail in the 2021 class rankings, then it would mark their fifth time doing so since 2014.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting news and views.