Can Duke reel in 5 top 25 recruits in one year? Every day, the forecast looks sunnier and sunnier for Coach K and his staff.
With Frank Jackson’s recent commitment, Duke has surged into 1st place on the ESPN rankings for 2016 recruiting classes. This class is oh so far from over, as there are still four top tier players considering the Blue Devils. Duke inked their first signee when 5-star forward Jayson Tatum committed to the Devils during the Nike Peach Jam. Tatum is listed as the #2 recruit on ESPN, with only power forward Harry Giles ahead of him. The good news: Tatum and Giles are great friends and apparently talk everyday. In fact, when Tatum committed after knocking out Giles’ Team CP3 in the Peach Jam, Harry stayed in the gym to watch his “best friend” compete. Giles and Tatum have discussed a potential package deal to Duke, possibly along with point guard Dennis Smith Jr. While the Giles-Tatum package seems very likely, Smith doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Blue Devils who just inked combo guard Frank Jackson.
Duke is widely considered a heavy favorite to land #1 recruit Harry Giles, and Duke just received commitment from #14 recruit Frank “Action” Jackson. At the moment, the Duke class consists of Jackson and Tatum, but expect that to change soon. Two other big names in the picture are Marques Bolden and Wenyen Gabriel. Bolden, the highly coveted center out of DeSoto, TX, recently visited Durham in an unofficial to Duke. The Devils recruiting staff has more momentum on the 5-star center than any other school in the nation. 247 Sports Crystal Ball Projections have Duke sitting at 65% on Bolden, and 82% on Wenyen Gabriel. Another thing to note, is that junior guard Matt Jones attended the same high school as Bolden. The momentum has never been stronger, and with Duke recently winning Frank Jackson, and in the strong lead for Gabriel, Bolden, and Giles, something special could be in the horizon.
If Bolden, Gabriel, and Giles sign with the Devils, then this class has scary potential. Michigan’s Fab Five is widely considered the best recruiting class in the history of college basketball. The class was simply insane, and took the NCAA by storm, but they fell short of the ultimate goal of hanging a banner. I may being going out on a limb by comparing the two, but in my opinion, the talent in this potential Duke class is not short of that of the Fab Five. Aside from the two best high school basketball players in the country, the class could also include three other players of five star talent. Frank Jackson’s explosive ability at the rim and soft touch from the arc will give Duke a new dimension at the guard position that hasn’t been seen since Jay Williams. Jayson Tatum showcased his incredibly smooth mid-range jump shot in the Peach Jam, and can elevate as well. Giles does it all at power forward/center, which is why every big college basketball program in the country wants him. Marques Bolden will give whatever school he chooses a ton of protection at the rim, and perhaps the most interesting man of the class, Wenyen Gabriel, is a very versatile wing. Gabriel’s stock has risen rapidly, as he has recently broken into the ESPN Top 25. The sixth top target, Dennis Smith Jr., seems like a stretch at this point. Duke made it a priority to get Frank Jackson at the guard, and that may be a reason for Smith to go elsewhere. With or without Smith, this class could be dangerous.
I feel pretty good about Gabriel, Bolden, and Giles at the moment. Of course things can change, but K and his staff are on top of the word right now in terms of recruiting. Expect a commitment within the next few months from Giles…without any inside sources, I strongly feel he will be wearing Duke blue next year. From a big picture perspective, who knows what the lineup will look like, but regardless of how many players Duke loses, the 2016 team will not be short of talent. If Allen, Kennard, Jeter, and Thornton stay, I don’t know what would stop this team. A lot of things still have to happen, but the picture is looking brighter and brighter every day. Keep your eyes pierced Duke fans!
Like I promised, in response to “Coach K’s” comment, this is how I see the stat line looking like for the young Dukies in the league in the 2016 NBA Season:
Justise Winslow: 10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.2 apg
Jahlil Okafor: 15.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Tyus Jones: 6.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.3 apg
Quinn Cook: 1.7 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 1.2 apg
In response to “NB2K”, if the team still had Winslow, Okafor, and Tyus, nothing would look the same. This would mean Thornton would likely have remained in the 2016 recruiting class, and who knows about Ingram. But in short, the team would be unbelievable.