Reclassification has been good for Duke lately. The Blue Devils went through a few years where it definitely didn’t end up working out as planned – see Alex Murphy – but the latest crop of reclassification candidates has worked out very well for all involved. Fans will remember Marvin Bagley joining the class of 2017 a year early and going on to have an outstanding year in Durham, averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds. Bagley parlayed that into being a first round draft pick. Most recently, RJ Barrett joined Duke a year early as well and also put up impressive numbers, averaging 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his lone season in Durham. Just last year, Tyrese Proctor had a very good showing in his freshman season helping Duke to an ACC tournament and now is being talked about as a potential first round pick next year.
Enter TJ Power in the 2023 class.
In addition to being an exceptional basketball player, TJ Power is also a damn good pitcher, tossing as a left hander from the mound but generally playing basketball as a righty — it’s still up in the air as to whether Power, as he did in high school, will be a two-sport athlete. Basketball-wise, Power has separated himself as one of the elite shooters in the class. His ability from long range, along with his all-around skills as a passer, fast break starter and his mobility as a 6’8″ forward, garnered him offers from a ton of high major schools.
Power’s recruitment reached fever pitch during the summer circuit, playing with BABC in the Nike EYBL. During the first EYBL session of July, Power averaged 23.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. Later in the month at Peach Jam he averaged 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game, also taking home Defensive MVP of the Tournament. Those performances in summer ball cemented his status as a high major recruit worthy of jumping into the college game a year early. Power was being recruited hard by the usual Blue Blood suspects in Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA before ultimately choosing the Blue Devils and reclassifying to the 2023 class.
Power is a very heady player that seems to be thinking a play ahead on both ends of the floor and what separates him from other players of similar size is not only his ability to both shoot the ball at an extremely high level but his ability to pass the ball exceptionally well and get his teammates open looks. Power should flourish in a system like Duke that wants to play fast, make quick decisions and move the ball around. Power is another plug-and-play guy for the Blue Devils that should be able to slide into multiple positions both offensively and defensively and that sort of skillset – in my opinion – will demand minutes.
With the players Jon Scheyer has around Power and the style of play that emphasizes motion, spacing and cutting, there should plenty of opportunities for Power to show his shooting prowess but also the other skills that may not be as highly touted. Jon Scheyer is clearly coveting players that are versatile but also have defined shooting skills and a willingness to stick their nose in defensively. Power fits that mold.
While I’m definitely not trying to heap the type of hype that came along with Bagley and Barrett, I do think there is potential for Power to be a major contributor this season. The only question that remains is how long will it take for the freshman to get up to speed. With a team that seems as loaded as the Blue Devils, rife with returning starters, Power should be able to ease into his role with a ton of support.