The Duke coaching staff is targeting another big class with the highly talented crop of rising juniors. The Blue Devils could take as many as five players from that group depending on roster need and early entry considerations. Several targets appear on the updated list of the top 75 prospects that was released yesterday.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has already extended four offers in the class, with a few more likely on the way. The confirmed offers are already out to the newly crowned No. 1 overall prospect, Jayson Tatum, No. 3 PF Hary Giles, No.4 C Thon Maker, and No. 6 PG Dennis Smith.
Tatum, a 6-foot-7 wing out of St. Louis, has become a priority over the last year with the Duke coaching staff, who offered him early in the process. During that time he had a chance to see what the Blue Devils did with another highly rated prospect from the middle of the country.
“I watched Duke play a lot more this year because they were on TV more and had Jabari. Just the way they move the ball and let their players be able to be themselves in the flow of the offense … You need structure but you also need to be able to showcase what you can do while in the team concept.”
Tatum takes over the top spot from in-state prospect Giles who is working his way back from an ACL injury that robbed him of his entire sophomore season. Interestingly enough, both Giles and Tatum have openly discussed and reported a strong desire to play together at the collegiate level.
In the post, Duke recently extended an offer to Virginia standout Thon Maker, who will likely reclassify to the class of 2015. At 7-foot and 215 pounds, he has some work to do in terms of adding weight and strength, but the five star prospect has shown the ability to make shots from the perimeter and factor in on the defensive end. He will remind Duke fans of a more mobile version of 2014 target, Myles Turner. Maker has offers from virtually every school in the country.
One position where Mike Krzyzewski zeros in on just one player is the lead guard spot. After recruiting Tyus Jones for more than three years, it appears that Coach K has identified the player he wants as the next Duke point guard: Dennis Smith, Jr. It’s easy to see why as the explosive guard saw his stock soar this spring and summer, culminating in a jump from the No. 25 overall position to the No. 6 spot in the class.
Smith visited Duke in May and picked up an official offer from Coach K on that trip to Durham.
“I got an offer when I got up there, they basically told me that they want me as their point guard. It felt good and I was smiling ear to ear, kinda like I am right now, it was a good experience.”
Another player who is likely to factor in with the Blue Devils in the class is scoring guard Tyus Battle, a 6-foot-6 standout from Gladstone, New Jersey. Battle has been recruited by various Duke coaches for more than three years with his point of contact changing constantly as Chris Collins (Northwestern) and Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette) moved on to head coaching jobs. Currently Battle doesn’t have an official offer, but that’ll likely change when he visits Durham later this summer. He checks in as a five star prospect and the No.12 overall player in the class
Other potential Blue Devil targets appearing in Scout’s latest Top 75 for 2016 list include No. 25 C Edrice Adebayo, No. 32 SF Mario Kegler, No. 34 C M.J. Cage, and No. 53 SG Eron Gordon. Gordon visited recently, and Adebayo has fielded interest from Coach Capel of late.
“It was kinda a shock because I never knew Duke had interest in me. Like I know they like guys that can shoot 3-pointers but I can work on becoming a good shooter, I just need to make it like one of my moves.”