Though Duke's haul won't be nearly as bountiful in numbers as this year's "Selected Six" it will contain a handful of talented players. One of the positions Duke will address is the perimeter slot, likely with emphasis on the small forward position. Enter Luol Deng.
The 6-7, 215 pounder plays his high school basketball at Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy. He first drew national attention with his inspired play at the 2001 Nike All-American Camp. Since July, college recruiters have worn out a path to Blair.
"He's doing great," said Blair coach Joe Mantegna. "He's averaging almost 30 points a game and Charlie's [Villanueva] averaging 26 points a game. They've been the best players on the court in almost every game we've played."
Deng is a terrific athlete, as uncovered at Nike. He'll slash and drive, generally looks like a big-timer, and that's why many of the elite schools have him marked as a priority. The Blue Devils, especially in the last few seasons, have experienced tremendous success when they target guys early and Deng looks to be high on their list. So, how does one say "No" to Duke these days?
"How do you say no to Michigan and Tommy Amaker?" Mantegna said. "How do you say no to Virginia. Granted, Duke is Duke. He's probably going to take an unofficial in December and he's going to see [North] Carolina while he's down there. That's a tough place to say "No" to also. With his final seven or eight schools I don't think he's going to be able to make a bad decision."
Mantegna is quick to point out that there are not final seven or eight schools just yet and the process won't be rushed with Deng.
"His brother [Joe Deng at Fairfield] went through the process so he understands what's going on. We're looking for the best basketball schools with the combination of coaching and basketball."