From all accounts the 2016 class was supposed to be huge for Duke, huge class, huge talents and huge potential but with a surprise need to re-up the roster Duke will likely find itself looking at a much smaller class in 2016. Examining the current roster going into 2015 there are names that we should (although it’s never set in stone) be seeing for a number of years in Durham.
Starting with the point guard spot: Currently Duke has one point guard in the roster heading into the season in Derryck Thornton obviously look for Duke to utilize the plethora of 2-guards to back up the freshman if need be. Whether or not Thornton is a 1&doner or not you would think Duke would go after another guard to fill that spot as a backup or to play alongside the freshman. Currently the only offer extended to a true point guard is to Trinity Christian School’s dynamic and athletic Dennis Smith. There is no such thing as a lock in recruiting as we saw with Tyus Battle whom most experts saw as a pretty safe bet to Duke but Battle announced he would be attending Michigan. Smith is being recruited by the likes of Duke, NC State, Florida and North Carolina – If I was a betting man I would say NC State has the inside track for the local talent but who knows. Smith is not one to show his hand. I trust in the staff to figure this things out but I most certainly would be looking for another guard, even if it’s a lesser talent, to come in and develop or take Thornton’s place if he decides his respite in Durham will be a short one. Duke has shown interest in 2016 guard Frank Jackson who Duke has made a good amount of ground on but the combo guard will not be available to play in college until he has completed his 2-year Mormon mission which essentially makes him a 2018 prospect.
The 2 guard spot is a very well stocked position currently for Duke and the deepest on the roster with Matt Jones, Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard Duke is essentially set and is probably one of the reason it lost out on 2016 stud guard Tyus Battle (committed to MI), who would have a sophomore Kennard, a Junior Allen and a senior Matt Jones to contend with for minutes. Battle is an incredible talent who will do big things as a Wolverine but Duke will have great experience on the roster for years to come.
Duke will lose Amile Jefferson after this year and depending on how they use the current stable of big men could have a need for a true power forward in the 2016 class, Chase Jeter who I believe will play both center and power forward would slide to the center spot if Duke can land a player like Harry Giles who would probably, along with small forward Jayson Tatum, be the most important targets in the class. Duke is looking at several other power forwards including Jay Huff, Edrice Adebayo, Juwan Durham and others but Harry Giles remains the priority.
The small forward spot is relatively thin for Duke with Brandon Ingram taking over the spot vacated by NBA bound Justise Winslow. Ingram is most likely a one and done prospect but one can never be sure and to fill that spot Duke is looking to St. Louis and Jayson Tatum. Tatum may the most talented recruit Duke is going after and he has a game suited to play inside and out and his versatility fits right into what Duke does. Tatum has great size and ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and the handle and moves to create his own shot. He like Ingram can play multiple positions and really is a tough player to have to guard. Tatum along with the aforementioned Giles are the two kids that Duke is coveting the most currently. Duke does have the walk-on turned scholarship player Justin Robinson who is listed as a power forward but his size currently seems to suggest small forward. It’s hard to know right off the bat whether or not he will be able to contribute or even if he will red shirt the upcoming year.
The center position currently is stocked well with freshman Chase Jeter, Marshall Plumlee, Sean Obi and Antonio Vrankovic – Duke will lose Plumlee and it remains to be seen if Sean Obi will be with the squad for the year after or not. It’s also hard to know what kind of contributions Obi and Vrankovic will make but I do expect Duke to still go after a true center as Jeter and Obi could very well play both positions at Duke. Duke has looked at Udoka Azubuike, who is just plain monstrous in the middle, as well as Marques Bolden, an Isaac Humphries. While it’s not a crucial position to land a center in that class I am sure the powers that be would be happy to get one.
The scholarship situation after this coming season will leave Duke with 4 to 5 to use and it will be interesting and fun to follow, I would think that more offers in the class will go out but not many more – just a hunch. It can still be a decent sized class but Duke is very selective about their offers. By comparison Kentucky offered 24 to only 10 by Duke (number may be off by 1 or 2). Duke still has a very good chance to land a monster class but in all honesty it’s probably not necessary.