As the offseason begins the Blue Devils can start to focus more on building next year’s team. As it currently stands Duke has a 3 man class made up of two 5-star players and a 4-star guard:
- Wendell Moore, a 6’5 small forward out of Cox Mill High School in Concord, NC. A versatile player who should provide Coach K and staff with a plug and play athlete who can play and guard multiple positions.
- Vernon Carey Jr. is the highest rated of the current class. Carey is a top 5 player in the class and a load down low. At 6’10 and 270 plus pounds, Carey will provide an instant space eater on the block. Carey is a lefty with skill around the rim, he can both bully his way in the post but has touch on his jump shot as well. I expect the bulk of his work to be done in the paint however.
- Rejean “Boogie” Ellis a shooting guard out of Mission Bay High School in California who is a certified bucket getter. Ellis is adept at probing a defense and getting his shot, he’s an underrated passer. During the EYBL Circuit this past summer Ellis shot over 45% from beyond the arc, 45% overall from the field and 80% from the free throw line in 23 games.
Beyond the current 3 man class, recruiting pushes forward and there are 4 names still on the radar for Duke in 2019. Most notably and the only player of the 4 who holds an offer is power forward Matthew Hurt. Hurt is a top 10 player in the class and could provide Duke with a talented stretch 4, a position they haven’t truly since the days of Ryan Kelly. Hurt plays the game with good pace and good IQ, he is a well regarded shooter and could provide Duke, should he choose the Blue Devils, with a much needed scoring punch. Hurt is set to make his college choice on April 19th and is considering, along with Duke, Kansas, UNC and Kentucky. Another name, even though the Devils got in late in the game, is Cassius Stanley. Stanley is a gifted athlete – possibly the most gifted in the class. He could give Duke a dynamic athlete, something they lack on the current roster and pairing him with Tre Jones could make for formidable backcourt. Stanley is an older recruit (19) who is already physically stronger than the average freshman at his position, while not a great shooter, he could make an immediate impact defensively and in transition. Stanley is set to announce his college choice this month with Duke not currently in his top 3. He has also not been offered by the Blue Devils but the situation is in flux and it’s possible Duke can get him on campus prior to his announcement.
A couple of fringe targets are also on the Blue Devils agenda in Trendon Watford and R.J. Hampton. Hampton is currently not in the 2019 class but is considering a reclassification. A dynamic and talented guard, Hampton would be a top 5 player in whichever class he ends up in. Duke is by no means the leader for his services but they are definitely on his radar. With Tre Jones deciding to stay in Durham another year, and Hampton wanting to play the point, it’s hard to say whether it hurts or helps Duke with regard to Hampton who has said he’d be open to playing with another elite guard. The prevailing theory is that he will end up with Anfernee Hardaway in Memphis but it’s a situation that could go a lot of different ways with Kentucky and Kansas also being in the mix. Watford is another, most likely, Memphis lean. He is a power forward with good skills around the rim and an emerging game on the perimeter. Another versatile guy who should be able to guard multiple positions at 6’8 and a 7’4 wingspan. Duke coaches should be very active in this active recruiting period which goes until the 14th of this month and began today.
With NBA workouts and the pre-draft process it’s hard to imagine one or more players not at least going through the process of seeing where they are developmentally. The rules allow for such and it can only be of help to a player to see where they stand and get constructive criticism from scouts and teams. With that being the case it’s hard to nail down the exact extent of who will return for the Blue Devils aside from those who have committed to do so. It’s expected that Duke will return Alex O’Connell and Jordan Goldwire in the backcourt. Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, Joey Baker and Justin Robinson in the front court. Freshman R.J. Barrett has already declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft, soon to be followed by Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish. The Blue Devils also lose senior center Antonio Vrankovic via exhausted eligibility.