The decision to continue to mine the class of 2015 comes as somewhat of a surprise after the Blue Devils landed a pair of five star prospects over the summer in center Chase Jeter and scoring guard Luke Kennard.
Here’s a run down of the situation…
THE FITIn addition to welcoming those two likely McDonald’s All-Americans, Coach Krzyzewski’s program has Rice transfer Sean Obi sitting out this season. Also, Marshall Plumlee is expected to return for his redshirt senior season.
All told Duke has three centers committed to next year’s roster along with two power forwards. Three of those five front court players will upperclassmen.
Making the assumption that Jahlil Okafor moves on to the NBA next season and that Justise Winslow remains in Durham (a risky proposition as the freshman wing’s stock is set to explode), Duke will have 11 players on scholarship next season, with room for two more players.
Freshmen (2): Chase Jeter (C), Luke Kennard (SG)
Total: 11 scholarship players + two open scholarships
THE PLAYEREven with a trio of centers already on the roster, Swanigan may be the most ready to contribute of the group. At 6-foot-9 and 265 pounds, he plays with enough power and strength to negate any sort of upperclassman strength advantage. He’s also blessed with surprisingly nimble footwork and soft hands that allow him to catch almost anything thrown his way.
Scout.com’s Rob Harrington watched Swanigan throughout the summer and provided an in-depth evaluation here. According to Harrington, it’s a matter of inches keeping the big man from a more lofty status.
“If Swanigan were 6-11, he'd probably be a top three prospect and legitimate contender for No. 1 player in the class,” wrote Harrington. “As it is, at 6-9 he's still a blue-chipper and someone who should be able to make an immediate impact college before advancing to a lucrative career in the NBA. His scoring and passing tools with his back to the basket clearly will be long-term assets.”
Harrington further speculated that a player like Swanigan could make an immediate impact as a true freshman in the paint.
“He could become an all-conference performer as a freshman, and at the minimum he projects as one of the country's most physically formidable insiders with room to expand into a truly multi-faceted performer.”
Like most Blue Devil recruits these days, Swanigan played a role in Team USA’s U17 World Championship team this past summer. The Indiana product appeared in all seven games and helped the Americans to the gold medal by contributing 8.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per night in just 14 minutes of action. He shot .696 from the field and .774 from the charity stripe for the tournament.
THE RECRUITMENTThe general consensus is that Swanigan is nowhere close to a decision of which five schools he’ll visit officially, much less picking a leader. Schools such as Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Arizona,UCLA, California, Alabama, New Mexico, and Kentucky have offed, and he’s visited most of those programs over the course of the last few months.
Duke has entered the picture over the last six weeks with associate head coach Jeff Capel leading the recruiting efforts.
After putting the process on the back burner, Swanigan told Scout.com he’s ready to start thinking more and more about it while also focusing on the goals he’s setting for himself during his final high school season.
“Definitely I am working hard to win a state championship this year, and also I have a goal set of winning Mr. Basketball,” said Swanigan.
In the process of getting himself ready for the season, Swanigan is also just beginning to really figure out his college coaches. The player wasn’t very interested in the process earlier in his career, but now he is taking a long and extensive look at his options.
“It has definitely been a new level of focus for me with recruiting,” said Swanigan. “Now that I am making some visits I get to see the campus and know what each staff does on a day to day basis. I meet with everybody, and it helps me to figure out what is best for me.”
And what’s most important in his decision making process?
“I want a chance to play,” Swanigan said. “I don’t need to be promised playing time, just promise me I will have an opportunity and a team with a solid roster where the best players play.”