Duke has been Duke for 30 years now. While that is a big boost dealt from Coach K’s success and the program he’s built over that time, I do have my doubts about the success of recruiting in the future with the team under Jon Scheyer starting in 2022-2023. This time will test the strength of the brotherhood. The brand Duke has sold to recruits over the Coach K era. His departure not only marks a new time for the program, but all of college basketball.
Coach K’s Olympic experience brought legendary connections. Sure those same connections can pass down to his staff but not the stripes, the stories, or the love so many NBA players have developed for the long-time coach.
Duke’s switched its formula for developing talent over 3 or 4 years to a top tier 1 and done school. The list starts with Jabari Parker in 2013 and continues to grow as long as a Walgreens receipt. Their latest class hosts guys who sniffed 2022 mock draft boards before their high school graduation.
Paolo Banchero, the number 2 recruit in the 2021 class, is a near-lock for the draft even with a below average season. AJ Griffin’s in a similar boat thanks to translatable measurements and a top 10 billing. Their final 5 star signing Trevor Keels has the makings of an NBA bucket getter when you factor in his frame and knowledge of where his game produces best though it may take him a season or two longer to leave than the latter two.
With the addition of 4 star Jaylen Blakes, we’re looking at the number 4 recruiting class in the nation. This group will conclude an almost 10 year run of top 5 classes under Coach K, which includes 4 top 3 classes and 3 number 1s. Scheyer was the lead recruiter on several of their top classes including Zion Williamson’s 2018 group and the program’s most recent star studded class.
The current coaching staff has been there for the ride. Scheyer’s joined in 2013, Chris Carrawell in 2018, and Nolan Smith in 2016. They’ve made connections with younger classes yet there are no crystal balls slated for the Blue Devils in the top 30 of the class. According to 247Sports, the guys in Durham have only offered two scholarships. One to Dariq Whitehead, who 247Sports is predicting Florida State as the leader, and who I believe would be successful in a professional option. The other offeree is 7’1” Dereck Lively II out of Westtown School in Pennsylvania.
Duke’s known to hold its offers late. The prestige of the program, the draw of Coach K, and for some a dream of playing at the school is enough to make all other schools’ efforts mute. However, the 2022 class is so loaded with talented players looking for professional options or a stage to call their own it may be harder than ever to pull them away from starting their biggest goal making a living playing a game they love.
Scheyer’s got his work cut out for him. Because Coach K’s farewell tour may be the biggest media circus we’ve ever seen for a coach, they’ll continue to have visibility. What the coming interviews, montages, and staging media outlets can do to tell the story of the winningest coach in college basketball history is limitless. The benefits that come next will unfold in front of us as Scheyer’s tenure begins.