Times Are Changing
Remember the old days when Duke used to get locked into some old fashioned recruiting battles? Memory kind of fuzzy? Having problems recalling the last time Duke lost a recruiting battle?
Well, they wanted Dane Fife. They passed on Casey Jacobsen. They were close with Rick Rickert and David Lee and even with those situations it could be argued they were the ones to pull back from the courtship.
Let's take a look at this year's recruiting class. JJ Redick was the first to commit; hardly a recruiting battle here. Redick, a resident of Virginia, was a lifelong Duke fan. Done deal: Redick is a Blue Devil by the time he's a junior.
Next up was Michael Thompson. The big fella's family indicated they wished to end his recruitment sooner than later and strived to get the interest they wanted from the schools they wanted. Enter North Carolina, Duke and to a degree Notre Dame and some others. North Carolina was never sold on him despite making scholarship overtures. However, it didn't matter because once Duke offered, it was a done deal. Again, a painless win for Duke.
Lee Melchionni is a bit of a different story. With his father having played for the Devils, this one was way too easy. So easy that Duke was able to essentially get Melchionni for "free" for one season until it could offer him a scholarship in 2003. Offers from Big East schools didn't faze Lee. The theme continues: easy recruiting win for the Devils.
Sean Dockery. Chicago kid recruited by an old Chicago guy. C'mon, the schools in the Midwest knew they had better find another point man to recruit because the word on the street from the beginning was that if Duke wanted Sean Dockery, Sean Dockery more than wanted Duke. Academics notwithstanding, another easy score for Devils.
Ah, Shelden Williams. One major college coach made this remark in July: "I think we are a strong No. 2 (in terms of their position in his recruitment) with no chance of ever being No. 1." Forget the home state, the flirtations with Illinois and others, Williams never tried to mask his love affair with Duke.
That brings us to Shavlik Randolph, the first player recruited hard by North Carolina to opt for another in-state school since David Thompson took his high wire act to N.C. State. Yes, this was a recruiting battle, by far Duke's toughest of the year. But was it as difficult as we might have originally thought? Yes, there was a lot of time spent chasing Shav, but it seems like Duke was maintenance with their relationship than actual recruiting of the big man.
For all of the hoopla surrounding Randolph, his family connections to both North Carolina and N.C. State, Duke remained the only school he ever officially visited. This fact alone speaks to the power Duke has on the recruiting trail right now.
I guess the message that is trying to be conveyed actually deals with the Class of 2003. The Blue Devils apparently are recruiting wing players again. The main targets are Blair Academy's versatile Luol Deng and Westbury Chrisitan's Ndudi Ebi.
Olu Famutimi from Canada via Michigan is also receiving attention. However, to the best of our knowledge, Mike Krzyzewski has only been to see Deng, though he might have snuck in a trip to see Ebi, but that's not confirmed. It's also believed he hasn't been to see Famutimi during the high school season.
Process that information and it appears Deng is the target of choice. Blessed with athleticism and skills, Deng totally fits the recruiting profile for a wing with size and versatility. From a Duke standpoint, he makes total sense.
And, it looks like he's the likely candidate to challenge Duke's supremacy on the recruiting trail. Can Luol Deng actually say no to Duke? Well, here's one person who thinks he'll have a hard time doing so.