The Top Three Candidates
Lance Thomas (6'8, 205, PF/SF) – a combination forward who has the build of former Blue Devil Luol Deng, Thomas has held a Duke offer for nearly a year, after meeting with the Duke coaching staff a year ago at the annual Tournament of Champions in Durham. At this point Thomas maintains a long list of schools, but the most often mentioned programs have been Duke, Arizona, and Georgia Tech. Of late the Villanova Wildcats have made a strong push for the New Jersey product, but sources indicate the recent commitments of Wayne Ellington to North Carolina and Gerald Henderson to Duke may not help the Cats' push.
While he will take yet another unofficial visit to Duke this coming weekend at the 2005 Tournament of Champions, Thomas isn't expected to select a school until much closer to the fall signing period in early November.
Notable Quote: "What can you say about Coach K? He's the best and both he and Duke speak for themselves. They are the elite program in the country. It's an honor and a privilege to know that they are so serious about recruiting me."
Brandan Wright (6'9, 200, PF) – perhaps the most talented player outside of Greg Oden in the class of 2006, Wright is the top rated power forward and projects as a dominant player at the collegiate level. That projection is also where the problem lies as far as the Blue Devils are concerned. Like Oden, Kevin Durant, and others, Wright is also projected to be an exceptionally high pick in the annual NBA Draft, leaving college recruiters wondering if it's worth it to put in the time with the Tennessee all star.
With three commitments already on board, the Devils can afford to take a wait and see with the fourth scholarship. If the NBA does institute a hard age limit, then Wright will certainly become one of, if not the, main priority in the class of 2006. However, if the age limit is soft or non existent, then look for Duke to concentrate the recruiting efforts elsewhere as the smart money has Wright among those likely to shake hands with David Stern next June.
Notable Quote: "Right now I'm not thinking about any of it [NBA]. There are things I need to work on, but if the NBA is there I'll think long and hard about it. Coach K and I talked about that kind of thing in our meeting. He showed me things I need to work on, which I hadn't thought about – plus he knows the process of how to get players drafted. You have to listen to him when it comes to this kind of thing."
Thaddeus Young: (6'8, 200, SF) – This talented wing athlete has size and skill package. Can sometimes get ahead of himself but he's growing into an elite player. And he's growing into that role very quickly. Scout.com's second rated small forward behind Durant, Young is another prospect that would be drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft if he declared next summer. While Young maintains a stellar 4.3 GPA off the court, his talent on the hardwood make him another early entry candidate.
Until the Spring any interest between Young and Duke had come strictly from the Young camp. However, after publicly lobbying for Duke to begin to recruit him, sources indicate that the Blue Devils will evaluate the Tennessee product at the first opportunity. As has been the case for years, Duke will not offer a prospect who hasn't been seen in person by Krzyzewski, thus while Duke will intensify their pursuit of the talented wing, an offer is likely a few weeks off.
Notable Quote: "Academics are very important to me when it comes to picking a school. Duke certainly combines both academics and athletics at a very high level."