While the class of 2016 may have had more elite talent at the top of the class, the class of 2017 is blessed with a lot of depth as Scout.com found 109 players worthy of four star status though only the top 28 players in the country found a fifth star on their updated profiles.
Headlining the list and, perhaps the overall recruiting board for the Blue Devils is No. 3 overall prospect, Wendell Carter. Duke has prioritized the Georgia prospect for more than a year and a half, and many consider the Blue Devils to occupy a very strong position for Carter. As for Scout.com, national recruiting director Evan Daniels came away impressed with Carter’s spring performances.
“Carter is a tremendous prospect in his own right,” said Daniels. “He’s consistently productive as a post scorer and area rebounder. His hands, touch, hook shots and scoring ability are top notch.”
Joining Carter at the top of the charts and as an offered target is 7-footer Mohamed Bamba who checks in at No. 2 overall. Bamba is considered a game changing defensive force blessed with a 7-foot-8 wingspan which allows him to protect the rim at an elite level.
Duke has spoken with both Carter and Bamba about the possibility of playing together according to each prospect. The experiment has already taken place once as the two lined up together as part of last year’s EYBL All-Star team that went to compete in the Bahamas.
The third front court target is No. 6 overall prospect, Kevin Knox. Knox originally projected as a power forward, and could still see time as a traditional stretch four at the college level, but has worked hard to move toward the wing forward position.
“Every school has told me they want me to play on the wing,” Knox told TDD, “that’s the first thing they tell me and a lot of people will also play me at the 4, but for my game, I can play on the wing and down low, I have that all-around game.”
Recently Knox told Scout.com that much of the Blue Devils’ pitch is centered around Coach K’s success with similar big wing players such as Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Justise Winslow, Brandon Ingram, and Jayson Tatum.
In the backcourt Duke offered electric scoring guard prospect Hamidou Diallo this spring. Diallo named the Blue Devils as one of the schools recruiting him the hardest this past week in California and noted that he is looking to reduce his list in the near future.
Diallo was ranked as the nation’s No. 10 overall player by Scout and the best scoring guard in America.
Another scoring guard the Blue Devils have worked hard on and who visited last season is Minnesota standout Gary Trent, Jr. The 6-foot-5 Trent checks in at No. 12 in the Scout.com rankings.
Playing in the EYBL, Trent has put up huge numbers averaging 23.2 points per game while leading Howard Pulley to a berth at the Peach Jam.
With his strong play the elite recruiting interest has continued for Trent. Schools such as Arizona, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, and UCLA have all been out to see Trent and continue to recruit him hard.
Trent continues to build a strong relationship with Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.
“When they talk to me they talk about how they can make me a better player as well as a better person,” said Trent of Duke. “When the time comes down to it, it means a lot to know they are looking out for me as a player and a person.”
One player who has not yet received a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils, but who could be on the verge is Pennsylvania point guard Quade Green. Green plays AAU ball alongside Bamba and Deng Gak (who also has an offer) and has had a very strong spring.
“They’ve been talking to me a lot lately,” said Green. “I’ve been talking with Coach K and he has been telling me how they really like my game”.
Green is ranked as the fourth best point guard in the country according to Scout.com and the No. 25 overall player.
A point guard who does report an offer is No. 41 overall, Tremont Waters. Waters is considered a four star prospect by Scout.com and spoke highly of earning a Blue Devil offer as well as one from Kentucky.
For those two to offer, Duke and Kentucky, it's just motivation to keep playing, keep leading my team and keep trying to win," Waters said.
Both offers bring some significance to the point guard from South Kent School in Connecticut, but the offer from the Blue Devils is especially important to Waters since he grew up frequently watching Duke basketball.
"I used to always watch Duke, like, a lot," Waters said. "I know that sounds like a coincidence, but I always watched Duke. For what reason, I don't know. I just always watched Duke.
"For my dream school, pretty much, to offer me it's a dream come true. But, also, Kentucky is in there too. So it's going to be a tough choice."
Another four star prospect to earn an offer from Duke is Deng Gak, a developing big man out of Blair Academy in New Jersey. It’s the same school attended by former Duke standout Luol Deng.
When the Blue Devils offered, it came as a shock for the 6-foot-11 prospect.
“It’s a shock really, it’s a really great feeling because you know you are doing something right if Coach K is calling you. I’m not even sure how to fully describe how it feels. It’s still surreal that Duke offered me.”
And Duke told Gak how they see him fitting in both in Durham and in the recruiting class.
“Coach K said that I have a really big upside and coming in potentially I would be coming in with another top big in the country like Mohamed or Wendell Carter or someone like that. He said I could do really developing under them and no matter how many years it took I’d do well. It’s a bonus, really, if a school wants to bring me in with a talented big. That’d be really cool and it’d be great to be able to go against another top big like that in practice all the time and playing with them. It’s kinda like me and Mo right now.”
Other prospects fielding various degrees of Duke interest include:
No.17 Brian Bowen, SF
No.23 Lonnie Walker, SF
No.30 D.J. Harvey, SF