Monday night Duke gained a commitment from the number 2 player in the 2022 class – Dereck Lively. In a surprise move Lively, this past Friday, set his commitment date for today which led most to assume the 7-foot prospect would be signing with the Kentucky Wildcats and be an addition to their monster class of 2022. The prevailing wisdom was that the longer the Lively recruitment went the better off things would stand for the Blue Devils to see how things would shake out in the sophomore season for Mark Williams. The Blue Devils were most likely looking more as a favorite if Lively’s recruitment was a springtime decision, while Kentucky would more than likely the destination with a fall decision. Just under 2 weeks ago Lively entertained visits from Kentucky, Penn State, Michigan and Duke (with the Blue Devils being last) where all 4 schools gave their last pitch at the coveted big man.
The speed in which Lively made known his intentions known it made perfect sense for Kentucky fans to be excited, and in the absence of any credible information it seemed more plausible that Lively would end up a Wildcat. Instead fresh off of Dukes in-home with Lively he committed to Jon Scheyer and the Blue Devils, joining power forward/center Kyle Filipowski, small forward Dariq Whitehead and shooting guard Jaden Schutt. Not that Kentucky fans need to week as John Calipari has already snagged the number 1 overall prospect in shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe, the number 6 overall prospect in Chris Livingston as well as second highest rated point guard in the class in Skyy Clark – three 5 stars with room to grow.
The tide seemed to begin to turn slowly in regard to public and expert sentiment a few hours after Lively announced his intentions to commit but throughout this past weekend things seemed to take a monumental shift cumulating with Kentucky head coach John Calipari visiting another top 20 big in the class in Adem Bona.
Head-coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer continues to be on a hot streak with recruiting and in less than a week the 34 year old has inked two 5 star players (Thursday 5-star guard Caleb Foster became the first 5 star to commit in the class of 2023 to any team.) While Scheyer doesn’t have to rebuild the Duke Basketball program there were questions after he was named future head coach if he could continue Duke’s recruiting prowess of elite prospects – it didn’t take long to answer those questions.
Hailing from Bellefonte, PA, Dereck Lively has been a player the Blue Devils were on early in the process, and one that Jon Scheyer has made a priority in the class aside from Kyle Filipowski Lively was the only “big” targeted by Duke and Scheyer. Lively has shot up the rankings in the last year culminating at a masterful performance at the Peach Jam this summer.
Lively, at over 7-feet tall, is a fantastic shot blocker and rim finisher. What could make Lively truly a special talent in addition to his physical gifts is his emerging perimeter game. As the develop into a shooter, Lively elevates his game and becomes much more of a matchup problem for college 5’s and 4’s. Obviously at 7 feet tall Lively is primarily going to be utilized in the post but his abilities on the perimeter and handle should afford him opportunities in the Duke offense to showcase them.