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It’s no secret that a huge part of being a successful head coach at a high major school is recruiting – it’s the lifeblood of a program. Jon Scheyer has done it better than anyone since being named the successor to Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Reeling in two top classes in a row and working on his 3rd, Scheyer has been an ace on the trail but as of April the Blue Devils had yet to land a top-10 recruit in the class of 2024 – that being said they had already nabbed a top 60 prospect in elite shooter Darren Harris out of Virginia, then in the last week of April Coach Scheyer gained his first top-10 of the class with a commitment from small forward Isaiah Evans. Duke would still need a big man with the probable departure of Kyle Filipowski and super senior Ryan Young will have exhausted his eligibility leaving just Christian Reeves to man the post next season. The Blue Devils had planned on or at least attempted to sign a center for this season, preferably one with a couple of years of eligibility so they’d have depth this year and next. Unfortunately the Devils was in the details and with a specific set of criteria needed Duke was unable to land another big for the upcoming season. Still knowing they had a need for a big in the 2024 class Duke went to work.

Patrick Ngongba II

The Blue Devils watched, liked and offered top 35 center Patrick Ngongba II. The 6’11 junior hails from the same high school as 2024 commit Darren Harris (Paul VI). The Blue Devils offered Ngongba May 31st and a visit was quickly scheduled for June 10th. Ngongba has seen his stock rise recently and the Blue Devil took notice. From a basketball family, both Ngongba’s parents played college hoops at George Washington University. Ngongba’s mother is former WNBA player and current Georgetown women’s basketball assistant coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba.

Playing at one of the top high school programs in the country  as well as powerhouse AAU squad Team Takeover, Ngongba’s game has grown, he possesses an array of back to the basket moves and superb touch around the rim Ngongba is built to do damage in the college ranks. Ngongba has reshaped his body and plays with an incredible motor on both ends of the floor.

In addition to the Blue Devils Ngongba holds offers from Uconn, Virgina Tech, Kansas, Buter, Virginia, MD, Pitt Indiana, Notre Dame and Mississippi State among others.

Flory Bidunga

The Blue Devils also have jumped in and gained quite a bit of ground on top 5 center Flory Bidunga out of Indiana by way of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 6’9 Flory is a budding star, another high motor center with soft, active hands, built for rim runs but with a nice soft baby hook as well. Bidunga has talked about expanding his game to include outside shooting and considering his meteoric rise from just 5 years of organized basketball to one of the top prospects in his class. The big man led Kokomo to the Class 4A State Finals this past season and was named Indiana Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year – averaging 20.2 points, 13.8 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 28.0 minutes per game. Flory is looking to wrap up his decision before the start of his senior year and a visit to Duke is reportedly in the works for this month – one would assume an offer would quickly follow.

Flory Bidunga holds offers from Michigan State, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville, Florida, Kansas, UCLA, Auburn, Creighton, Wake Forest and others.

The known is that both bigs are on the rise, both impressive and both are going to make splashes in college basketball in 2024.  The unknowns are – is Duke looking for 2 bigs in the class and would it be possible to sign both. As Victor Maitland said to Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, “That would be a neat trick“.

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