An All-Star Lineup of Recruits Visiting

The toughest ticket in college basketball is watching Duke v. North Carolina inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. On Wednesday night three five star recruits will take advantage of their status by watching the Blue Devils and Tar Heels go at it from behind the Duke bench.

Five star senior prospects Caleb Swanigan and Luke Kennard will join five star junior Derryck Thornton, Jr. on campus for Wednesday night’s game between Duke and North Carolina. Each of the three players will be on unofficial visits.

Here’s a brief look at each player’s recruitment.

Caleb Swanigan:
Rated as a top 10 overall player in the class of 2015, Swanigan was a late addition to the Duke recruiting board, but may turn out to be the most pivotal player in the class as the Blue Devils look for a player ready to step in immediately as the team’s starting center next year.

The big man from Ft. Wayne (Ind) Homestead recently has begun to show up a bit more at the campuses of schools recruiting him, and he continues to get visits from coaches, but at the end of the day he is not close to a decision.

The word right now is that Swanigan could wait until May-June before making any kind of choice on his future, and at the absolute earliest it seems that the end of his high school season would be the beginning of the timeframe for a choice.

He’s already visited Duke once this season via an unofficial visit and came away impressed with what he saw.

“Cameron Indoor Stadium was great, and I got to see what Duke has to offer and how they do things,” said Swanigan. “I got to see how Coach K does things in practice, and it is just really historic there and I liked the visit a lot.”

In January, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski visited Swanigan, and the two sides seem to be building a nice rapport with one another.

“I’m building a very good relationship with Coach K,” said Swanigan of Duke. “They are showing me a lot of love. They are saying how I am a guy they really want right now and that I would fit in well.”

Other schools involved with Swanigan include California, Louisville, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Purdue, and UCLA.

Luke Kennard
The first commitment from the class of 2015, Kennard chose Duke over finalist, Kentucky, as well as offers from Ohio State, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State, and Indiana. He committed on March 24th of last year following his visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the game against North Carolina.

“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.”

Since making the commitment, Kennard played well during his final season of AAU basketball before embarking on a historic senior season in which he’s averaged more than 40 points per game in Ohio and has passed LeBron James on the state’s scoring tables.

And with the possibility of Tyus Jones being one and done, the Blue Devil coaching staff have offered a potential role change for Kennard as a freshman…to play point guard for Duke next year if needed.

“Coach K really expressed that he feels that Luke can play the point,” said Luke’s father, Mark Kennard. “He can play the shooting guard and he can play on the wing and he told us that Luke isn’t going to just play one position.”

Kennard will arrive on campus with his fellow 2016 commit, Chase Jeter, in June.

Derryck Thornton Jr.
Perhaps the top point guard in high school basketball, Thornton has the usual list of blue blood programs recruiting him at a high level. Joining Duke are Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, Cal, Michigan, and several others. Thornton has become a priority for Coach Krzyzewski’s program this year as the Blue Devils have zeroed in on the Nevada point guard as their top backcourt recruit in the class.

For his part, Thornton has enjoyed the interest and has reciprocated the interest with Duke.

"Coach K is a legendary coach,” Thornton told TDD. “It’s a great education and it's a great national program."

The next step for Thornton is taking the season to study the teams remaining on his list.

"I want to watch a lot of games to see how I can fit into these programs," he said. "I want to see their style of play, how the coaches react to the players and the point guard."

The five-star prospect doesn't think it's going to take him too long to be able to figure out which schools fit him the best.

"I think I'll be able to tell pretty quick," Thornton said. "Obviously I've been watching some of these teams already so I can kind of tell but this year I'm going to really narrow in on how these programs play.

"I'm going to hone in on the little things I wasn't watching before. The sets they run, the defense, how often they push, what do they do in transition and stuff like that."

With so many high major prospects within driving distance of Duke - especially in the class of 2016 - there’s potential for even more recruiting star power to be joining the above mentioned trio tonight.

The nation’s top overall player in the class of 2016, Harry Giles, has been to several games this season, and could make another appearance at Cameron. His team, however, does play in the Western portion of the state on Thursday and the winter weather could preclude a visit.

Similarly, Dennis Smith, Jr - perhaps the top combo guard in the country - is a short drive from Durham and has been a fixture at games this season. He could also end up in Cameron. The same is true of Brandon Ingram, the 2015 five star small forward from Kinston.

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