Duke Basketball Recruiting: Preview of 2014 McDonald's All-American Game
The 2013-14 college basketball season ended in spectacular disappointment for Duke thanks to an NCAA tournament loss to Mercer, but the future looks much brighter for the Blue Devils.
Mike Krzyzewski currently has the No. 1 class in the country when it comes to the 2014 recruiting rankings, and he is still in on elite big man Myles Turner. There will be four Blue Devils commits competing in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday, so fans will have a great chance to catch a glimpse of the future.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at those four recruits and what each will bring to the table for Duke.
*Any recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.
Justise Winslow is the uber-athletic swingman in Duke’s loaded 2014 recruiting class, and he will be teaming up with Tyus Jones on the East Team.
Winslow is a 6’6” Texas native who brings the type of versatility to the table that every college coach is looking for in today’s game. He is capable of playing anything from point guard to small forward on either end of the floor thanks to his length and quickness and will likely be all over the court on Wednesday.
He is a formidable ball-handler, can shoot from behind the three-point line and is nearly impossible to stop if he sets his mind on getting to the rim. He is strong enough to finish through contact when he gets there but is also a capable enough passer who can find open teammates if the defense collapses.
How his coaches use him in the McDonald’s game will be interesting to see, considering he will be surrounded by elite players. Winslow will likely get the chance to prove he can compete with the best guards and forwards in the country on Wednesday.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for Duke fans when it comes to the McDonald’s All-American Game is how effectively Jones and Winslow play alongside each other, especially in transition.
Winslow is one of the best finishers in the country, and he will get the benefit of running next an elite floor general in Jones. Jones’ court vision is nearly unmatched at the high school level, which will prove all the more fruitful when he is directing next year’s Duke team with so much talent across the board.
While his passing and leadership skills are what immediately jump out, he is also a dangerous three-point shooter and can get to the basket with his quickness.
Playing point guard in the McDonald’s All-American Game will be a solid preview for how Jones will look in a Blue Devils’ jersey next year. There will be so much talent on the court that Jones won’t be asked to score much, but look for him to seize his opportunities when they arise.
Grayson Allen is the one Duke player who isn’t considered a 5-star prospect, but the 4-star recruit is still one of the best players in the entire country.
He wouldn’t have a spot on the West Team at the McDonald’s All-American Game if he wasn’t.
Allen already showed off his athleticism this week when he won the dunk contest at the event on Monday by throwing one down over future teammate Jahlil Okafor. It was the exclamation point to an incredible display that should have Duke fans looking forward to what Allen can do in the open court next year.
Allen’s explosiveness when he is in the air isn’t the only thing that appeals to Krzyzewski about the combo guard’s game. He is a terrific ball-handler who will lend more depth to the Duke backcourt when Jones or one of the holdovers from this year’s team needs a blow and is gradually becoming a better outside shooter.
Allen may be overshadowed by some of his future teammates by recruiting services for now, but look for him to make a name for himself on Wednesday when he shines alongside some of the best prospects in the country.
Allen’s teammate on the West squad will be Okafor, who is the centerpiece of Duke’s incredible recruiting class both literally and figuratively.
Okafor is arguably the best big man in the country and will almost assuredly start as a freshman for the Blue Devils. The McDonald’s All-American Game is often dominated by guards and slashing forwards thrilling the fans with incredible dunks and three-point shooting, but Duke supporters will be more interested in Okafor’s rebounding prowess and ability to score on the post.
Duke’s lack of rebounding proved especially costly throughout the season in 2013-14, and Okafor represents an immediate upgrade in that department. He is also nearly unstoppable down low thanks to his size, strength and ability to find perfect positioning on the block, and he even has a mid-range jumper in his arsenal.
Okafor probably won’t dominate the McDonald’s game simply because he is a big man, and all-star contests aren’t really built for post players, but he will have a chance to show off his skill set against the nation’s best.
Duke fans can’t wait until that skill set is dominating ACC play.