THE COMMITSSG - Luke Kennard (6’5, 185)
Kennard was a high major recruit from the time he stepped into high school basketball more than three years ago. He picked up offers from the likes of Dayton and Michigan as a freshman before schools such as Ohio State, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State, and Indiana followed suit during his sophomore campaign.
Despite the high major interest this one came down to arguably the two biggest programs in the country with Duke and Kentucky going toe-to-toe for the five star guard. Kennard actually grew up a Kentucky fan, but an official visit to Duke for the game against North Carolina turned the trick for Coach K and Duke.
Kennard committed on March 24th.
“Honestly the decision to commit happened during the visit,” Kennard told TDD. “When I got there, the coaches, they were great and Duke…it's just one of the best programs in the nation and Coach K, he's the best coach in the nation. Also, being around the players, just the whole campus feel is unbelievable and just their program and the way i would fit in there, their style of play is how i want to play and you can just tell it's a real family oriented group of guys there in the basketball program.”
- Chase Jeter (6’10, 225)
Jeter’s emergence as a high major recruit has really accelerated over the past 12 months. He started gaining attention as a freshman at Bishop Gorman despite being a reserve, and then a complementary player. Still, coaches saw enough to pursue him and eventually programs such as UNLV, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon all would offer scholarships.
While UCLA, UNLV, and even Kansas got some play early on as potential schools to beat for Jeter, it became widely assumed and thought that Duke was the one school he was most interested in. That assumption seemed to gain traction as Jeter visited Durham for the game against North Carolina (along with Kennard) and soon the commitment watch was on.
However, unlike Kennard, Jeter wasn’t in any hurry to pick his school and the recruiting process lengthened from April into the summer and then into August. During that time rumors began to circulate that Bill Self and Kansas had made inroads with the five star player.
Then, on August 4th, Jeter announced for Duke on national television at the Adidas Nations event.
“I just love the feel, the environment,” Jeter said. “Cameron Indoor is a great place, a great basketball environment. I just felt like it was the right place for me.”
THE TALENTSScout.com has provided in-depth scouting reports of both Jeter and Kennard located here:
LUKE KENNARD EVLAUATION | CHASE JETER EVALUATION
Beginning in the paint, Duke’s getting a player who projects as the next starting big man in Durham, following Jahlil Okafor who will be shaking hands with NBA commissioner in June after one season. Jeter probably won’t be a one and done, but he’s got the talent to have an abbreviated collegiate career according to national recruiting analyst Rob Harrington.
“I don't perceive him to become the next one and done to emerge from Durham,” said Harrington. “I think he'll need to transition his offense in order to command a high NBA draft pick. He's a good athlete, not a great one, and he also possesses good, not great post size by professional standards. He'll have to get it done with skill, not just raw athleticism, extraordinary reach or brute power.”
“At Duke, he should anchor the team's rebounding needs as well as its need for a defensive center to protect the rim. The Devils haven't recruited as many perimeter defensive stoppers recently — and as they recruit more one-year players, experience issues will continue to arise — placing greater pressure on the defense's back line to step up and cover for others' limitations. But Jeter, due to his size, strength and intelligence, should be able to pick up the system quickly.”
As for Kennard, he’ll enter Duke as a very polished player who evokes comparisons to former player and current assistant Jon Schemer in that he’s unflappable and should be ready to play early in his career. Although…
“He'll enter a program that's loaded on the perimeter,” said Harrington. “That’s just about always the case at Duke — so he may need a year or two before he's able to challenge for a starting position.”
“Thinking long-term, there are legitimate questions about his upside that Kennard must answer. For college, however, there's no reason to doubt that what he brings now — shooting, handling, passing, intelligence, unselfishness, toughness — will migrate effectively to Durham.”
THE VIDEOLuke Kennard
THE RANKINGSIn the most recent Scout.com rankings Luke Kennard dropped from 19th to 22nd overall. He is rated as the No. 6 shooting guard in the class. The minor drop was due to the future Blue Devil’s summer schedule.
“It was a bit tough to get a great evaluation on Kennard since he was away with the USA Basketball U-18 team for a decent part of the summer,” said national recruiting analyst Brian Snow. “But when he did return he played well. Not to mention he was one of the top scorers on a team that came home with a gold medal.”
Meanwhile, Jeter rose up the rankings prior to the summer and then played well enough to maintain his top 10 slot. Though he didn’t move up, that’s hardly an indictment of his game according to Snow.
“Once in the top 10 it is extremely tough to move up, and just to keep your spot requires an impressive level of play which Jeter showed. He rebounded the ball better than in the past, showed a better ability to score, and also he is excellent running the floor. He has to continue to improve his strength and desire, but there is a lot to like with Jeter, and he proved while maintaining a spot in the top 10.”
WHO ELSE?Duke is still recruiting a pair of five star talents. North Carolina small forward Brandon Ingram is a rangy wing prospect who had a great second half of the summer on the Adidas circuit. Ingram is the No. 25 overall prospect in the country according to Scout.com.
Additionally the Blue Devils are involved with Indiana center Caleb Swanigan, a 6-foot-9, 265 pound space eating center with elite hands and footwork. Swanigan is rated as the No. 8 overall prospect in the class and the fourth best center in the nation according to Scout.
As with the two commitments, the national recruiting team at Scout has provided in-depth evaluations of both Ingram and Swanigan:
Caleb Swanigan Evaluation | Brandon Ingram Evaluation
When discussing Ingram, Scout.com’s Harrington believes the developmental process will continue over the course of the next several years.
“He projects best as a two- or three-year college player, and frankly he may not approach his best basketball until he's a few years into a likely NBA career. But assessing him exclusively from a professional perspective, NBA scouts will love his length and ball skills and might assess the No. 26 senior more favorably than quite a few players ranked ahead of him at this juncture.”
On the other hand, Swanigan is ready to play now. As in this season, while he’s a senior in high school.
“He could become an immediate, designated, rear end-kicker in college,” said Harrington. “He's already more powerful than most 22-year-old big men, so in his case the usual physical adjustments won't apply. Provided his stamina holds up, he should be able to bludgeon opponents for upwards of 28-30 minutes per game.”
“Swanigan 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.”
Ingram’s decision making process is up in the air at the moment. He has taken all five of his official visits, but has not definitely set an announcement yet.
Duke, North Carolina, NC State, UCLA, Kentucky, and Kansas are his listed finalists.
While there is some uncertainty regarding Ingram’s timeline, Swanigan is no where close to a decision. In fact the five star center isn’t expected to pick a program until after the high school all-star games in the early spring. Between now and then he is expected to formulate an official list of finalists and take some official visits.
WHAT DIDN’T WORKEarly on Duke pursued a number of players in the class led by No. 2 overall Ben Simmons who eventually committed to LSU.
Prior to the commitment of Jeter, the Blue Devils made inroads with California big Ivan Rabb, offering a scholarship after Rabb visited Durham over the summer. However, following the commmitment of Jeter the two sides seemed to drift apart before officially parting ways in early October.
While Duke was eliminated somewhat early by No. 5 overall prospect Henry Ellenson, there’s a silver lining for Blue Devil fans. The Wisconsin big man eventually committed to former Duke assistant turned Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, giving Coach Wojo that program’s biggest commitment in more than 10 years.
Another Wisconsin big man, No. 4 overall Diamond Stone, also fielded interest and an offer from Duke. Early on Stone cited his relationship with Jahlil Okafor as an key point in his evaluation of Duke. However, in the middle of the summer the parties began drifting apart as the Blue Devils moved forward with other big men such as Jeter, Ellenson, and Rabb.
Very early in the class Duke heavily recruited and offered combo guard Tyler Dorsey before the four star prospect selected Arizona (only to de-commit later).
Other players who appeared on the radar during the cycle with varying levels of interest included C Steven Zimmerman, SG Austin Grandstaff, C Elijah Thomas, and SG Isaiah Briscoe.
NOTES- By landing Jeter and Kennard, the Blue Devils have added 11 straight five star prospects over the last four recruiting classes.
- The last time Duke’s incoming recruiting class wasn’t completely comprised of five star prospects was in 2010 when Duke brought in five star prospect Austin Rivers and four star prospects Alex Murphy, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, and Michael Gbinije.
- Five of the last six commitments have played extensively during the summer for USA Basketball’s U17 and U18 National teams. All winning gold medals.