Regardless of how the rest of the 2013-14 season turns out for the Duke basketball team, it will be on the short list of national title contenders in 2014-15.
Paul Biancardi, the director of basketball recruiting for ESPN.com, alerts us to an intriguing official visit on the schedule for March 8:
It just so happens that the Blue Devils are hosting archrival North Carolina on that date. Think that was a coincidence in timing?
Myles Turner is a consensus 5-star center from Texas who checks in at 6’10” and 223 pounds. His wingspan alone allows him to control entire games from the defensive end of the floor with blocked shots and challenges, and his offensive arsenal is rapidly improving. He can hit from mid-range and demonstrates impressive footwork on the block.
It is no wonder there are a number of schools that have shown varying degrees of interest in him, including Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas and upstart SMU. Kentucky was in the picture for some time, but that appears to be a long shot at this point in the recruiting process.
If Duke is going to land Turner, it will be going up against some formidable competition.
The Blue Devils already have three 5-star prospects and a 4-star recruit for their 2014 class, one of whom is Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is considered the No. 1-ranked center for 2014, while Turner checks in at No. 2.
A natural question arises when it is reported that Duke will be hosting Turner on an official visit—why would he go to Durham when Okafor is already in place?
The obvious answer is because he wants to win, but if his comments in a recent USA Today chat (that were passed along via Adam Zagoria of zagsblog.com) are any indication, Turner is not afraid to play alongside Okafor: "I really like Coach K and the history Duke has with producing NBA talent. I could definitely play alongside another big man [Jahlil Okafor]. In college and the next level that’s what I’ll have to do."
If we are to take Turner at his word that Okafor’s presence won’t be an issue, then that instantly boosts the Blue Devils’ chances in the recruiting race. After all, if Turner was solely thinking about individual minutes, production and the chance to go to the next level after one season, he would probably look elsewhere.
The fact that there are so many other teams that have shown interest from early on in the recruiting process limits Duke’s chances. However, the Blue Devils will have an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on Turner when he is in attendance for the North Carolina showdown.
There is no bigger rivalry in college basketball, and to experience the atmosphere with the Cameron Crazies would impact almost anyone.
The other contenders for Turner all have their own strengths, many of which are formidable, but nobody else can offer Cameron Indoor Stadium during a game against the Tar Heels.
What’s more, if Turner wants to win a national title, there is no better place to go next year than Durham. Coach K will have his incredible recruiting class in place, and there is no guarantee that superstars Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood are taking their talents to the NBA after this season.
It’s almost unfair to imagine a team that features Parker, Hood, Okafor, Turner, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen.
Ultimately, the opportunity to play under the legendary Krzyzewski with so much talent around him may be too tempting for Turner to pass up. With the official visit on the schedule, Duke has a formidable opportunity to lure the Texas big man to the East Coast.
Note: Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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