With the recruiting class of 2014 complete and set to step on to campus in a few months, Duke fans and coaches alike will shift their attention to the rising high school seniors. These players are not household names yet, but as the summer AAU circuit ramps up, some of them will distinguish themselves and heat up the message boards.
Duke has been very successful at recruiting in the past few years. The Blue Devils have brought in studs like Jabari Parker, Austin Rivers and Kyrie Irving; each was only in Durham for one season and failed to make the Final Four.
Next year Duke will welcome its greatest recruiting class of the one-and-done era. Duke has the No. 1 class coming in with Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen, according to ESPN. The group has high expectations but will ultimately be judged on their performance in March.
The Duke coaching staff will be on the road this summer trying to replicate last year’s recruiting success. Here are a few players who would bring the most joy to Duke fans if they came to campus.
Keep in mind that Duke has already received one commitment in the class from 5-star shooting guard Luke Kennard and will have Rice transfer Sean Obi eligible for the first time along with any other recruits it brings in for the 2015-2016 season.
After struggling with being an undersized team all last season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski seems intent on making sure his team is never short on size again. Next season Duke will have Okafor, the 6'11", 260-pound center and No. 1 recruit in his class.
In case Okafor leaves after just one season, Duke already has 6'9", 265-pound Obi, who lead Conference USA in rebounding and field-goal percentage as a freshman, ready to step in.
Even with Obi, the team should look to bring in as many quality big men as possible.
Enter Chase Jeter, a 6'10", 220-pound center who attends Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. According to scouthoops.com, Jeter is the 18th-best player in his class and very interested in Duke. He already has taken an official visit to campus (where he saw Duke defeat UNC on March 8) and would be an ideal fit for Duke.
Duke fans should keep a close eye on Jeter as the staff is hoping he will make a decision soon. If he commits to Duke it would be a great fit, but if not the Devils still have plenty of time to target another quality big man in the same class.
Duke projects to have its usually loaded backcourt in 2015. Duke will lose Quinn Cook next season. In addition Tyus Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon could leave for the NBA if they have strong years. Even if those two bolt (unlikely), Duke would return Matt Jones and Grayson Allen as well as bringing in Kennard.
Duke should look to continue to bring in power forwards and centers to complement its always strong backcourt. Ingram would be a valuable player and a huge win in recruiting for Duke.
Ingram is a 6'8" combo forward from Kinston, N.C. Ranked No. 40 in the class by scouthoops.com, Ingram would bring help on defense and rebounding, and could even develop into a solid three-point shooter. The real joy in bringing Ingram to campus would be outdueling UNC for a player who comes from a UNC pipeline.
The Tar Heels have a history of bringing Kinston’s finest players to Chapel Hill. Both Reggie Bullock and Jerry Stackhouse are from there, and for that reason many believe Ingram will commit to the Tar Heels.
Regardless of how he progresses as a player, Duke fans love shoving any type of victory in the faces of their local rivals. To make things even better, Ingram is also considering N.C. State and Wake Forest.
Winning a local recruiting battle has not always ended in on-court success (Shavlik Randolph), but these teams strive to dominate the banter of fans as well as the games.
Any Point Guard
While Duke will have strong guards for the 2015-16 season, it faces a potential problem at the point. Duke’s need for a new ball-handler will come down to the decisions of Tyus Jones and Sulaimon.
If both players come back, Duke will have a pure point guard as well as a combo guard capable of running the team. If one or both of them leaves, Duke will need a player who can handle the rock and lead the team on offense.
Unfortunately, Duke is not in the running for any of the top point-guard recruits in the country in this class.
According to scouthoops.com, the only point guard interested in the Devils is 3-star recruit Charvon Julien, who has yet to receive a scholarship offer from the team. Whether Duke decides to offer Julien or not, it will need to start looking at point guards as a fail-safe for losing Jones and Sulaimon.
Look for Duke to enter the running late for a fast-rising point guard at the end of the season if it seems like one or both of Duke’s two ball-handlers will bolt.
If they don't, Duke may enter the 2015-16 season with a huge question mark at a very important position.