Duke Basketball, Facebook, and the Domino Effect One Has on the Other
To say that the nature of college basketball recruiting has become more complex over the last few decades would be an understatement in the same realm of calling Chris Paul "quick" or Shaquille O'neal "tall."
Duke's current recruiting situation is a prime example of how much more intricate the recruiting world has become in recent years.
Currently, Mike Krzyzewski is actively recruiting a number of high-profile players, just like he always does at Duke.
The Blue Devils' top two targets are 2010 standouts Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are ranked in pretty much every recruiting analyst's top 10 among current high school players. All signs point to Duke being in the final running for both players.
Roscoe Smith is the other 2010 Duke recruit still on the table. He just cut his list to three schools, one of which is Duke.
In 2011, Duke is recruiting current Florida semi-commit Austin Rivers as well as standout players like Quincy Miller and Brad Beal.
Here's where things start to get interesting and, for lack of a better analogy, scripted teenage reality show-like.
(Feel free to read the next few lines with a stereotypical high school gossip queen voice in your mind for full effect, inserting words such as "like" and beginning sentences with "Okay, so..." where you see fit).
Barnes and Irving are really close friends—they have both said that they see each other more like brothers than friends.
Irving and Barnes have publicly talked about playing at Duke together, but Harrison isn't really talking to anyone right now, so if you were to ask him if Irving's decision (expected soon) would influence his school choice, you wouldn't get a revealing answer.
Rivers just so happens to be close to Irving as well, and he has also talked openly about how great it would be to play with him at Duke. He is currently still committed to Florida, but has asked Duke to recruit him (he and Florida have an open relationship, so to speak).
Now, Smith and Barnes also know each other, but the word on the street is that they won't play for the same school. Apparently, there was an incident between the two at an AAU event and they would rather keep their distance.
Oh yeah, and Beal and Rivers are also good friends, so if Rivers chooses a school that also shows interest in Beal, it could go a long way with Beal's recruitment.
Miller just likes to play basketball and keep to himself.
With all of the apparent close friendships and ties to these players, you would think they attend the same high school—not even close.
Irving lives in New Jersey while his "brother" Barnes is from the big city of Ames, Iowa.
Rivers resides in Florida, and his good friend Beal lives in St. Louis.
Smith is from Baltimore and Miller is from North Carolina (saving Coach K a ton on airfare).
In the age of AAU events combined with social networking, these players from opposite locales are able to build relationships strong enough to create the potential recruiting domino effect that Duke is hoping for.
Thirty years ago, these players would have likely never met (or perhaps heard much about each other) aside from a brief encounter at a Tournament of Champions or another exhibition event.
AAU basketball and an intensified national focus on high school recruiting thanks to Al Gore's wonderful Internet has changed that, however.
High profile players frequently meet and compete at national AAU events, and the increased coverage of these events along with the constant rankings and comparisons from national scouting sites gives today's high school stars more familiarity with each other than ever.
This has been happening for years, but the situation at Duke goes well beyond familiarity.
Thanks to the growing popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites, these players are friends (except for Smith and Barnes apparently).
Social networking sites are changing the face of college basketball recruiting in a way that few things (if anything) ever have.
Now, when two top-ranked players meet at an AAU tournament or camp and hit it off, they send each other friend requests and follow one another's tweets. They have open lines of communication and develop close ties, not to mention playing an active role in each other's recruitment when one of them decides on a school and wants their top-ranked friend to follow.
While these types of player-to-player relationships have been present for years on a regional level, the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites has made these relationships possible on a national level.
And the current recruiting landscape is changing rapidly as a result.
Don't look at Duke's situation as a unique convergence of coincidence, but rather as an early example of what recruiting will look like for years to come.
In the age of social networking, who a player has in his friend list could be worth an extra star in their ranking.
Domino effect recruiting might just become the norm.
For the Blue Devils, fans are hoping that the relationships between these players will lead to a rapid succession of commitments.
But no matter what happens at Duke, expect future recruiting classes to have similar story lines with players living thousands of miles apart playing crucial roles in each other's recruitment.
Technology is supposed to simplify life.
I guess they never mentioned it would make a complicated mess out of high school recruiting.
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