Rob Harrington, a national recruiting analyst for USA Today and Prepstars, has watched Kyle Singler, Taylor King, and Nolan Smith in action many times at various AAU events over the past several years. With signing day in the rear view mirror, Harrington sat down with TDD to discuss the trio of future Blue Devils. Though he freely admits this class isn't without flaws relative to the current roster, Harrington believes that Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have once again set the bar high for anyone looking to compete with Duke.
"When you look at this group, you can quibble with the lack of footspeed possed by King and Singler, but this is the class I'd take first if I was starting a team tomorrow. When you add it with the current group of freshmen they have, Duke will be able to pressure the ball like the vintage Duke teams of the early and late 90s."
And just what stuck out about each future Dukie in Harrington's eyes?
"Singler impressed me more and more as his career progressed. Initially, I thought he was a talented wing who was a little slow and a little soft. By the time he took the court this past summer, however, he gained a few pounds and became much scrappier inside, and in fact I think he'll be better at the power forward than the small forward position in college. He's a nightmare to defend because he excels in so many areas, yet despite all the those ball skills he blends selflessly into a system and is nearly as valuable away from the immediate action as he is initiating it."
Currently, Singler is rated as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class by Harrington.
Taylor King, the other wing player in the class, drew national attention when he committed to UCLA before playing his first high school game. Since that time he's evolved into a much different player says Harrington.
"He may not be the pure shooter he was touted to be earlier in his career, but there's no doubt about his range. And if he will improve his shot selection, there's plenty reason to believe he can carry the load from behind the arc. He has been typecast to some extent because he's been a national name for so long, and now people verlook his contributions as a rebounder --he has a great frame with high shoulders-- and tough-as-nails competitor."
King is slotted as the nation's No. 29 overall player by Prepstars.
The third member of the class may initially be the most important to the Duke roster according to Harrington. And not because of his superb ability on the offensive end.
"If you believe the current Duke roster has a defensive quickness issue at point guard, and I and many others do have that concern, then Nolan Smith is vital to the club's immediate national title hopes. I wouldn't want him to run the show for an entire game, because offensively he's best scoring off the dribble, but his quick feet make him a natural to defend the elite floor generals in the conference. He'd be a very good player for anyone, but at Duke I believe he is particularly valuable."
Having seen each of Duke's three recruits in action, as well as the rest of the nation's top 150 prospects, where does this group rate among other classes?
"In my view, Duke's class overall is the best in the country," said Harrington. "Right now they have three guys who have All-Conference potential, and at least one of them has a very good shot to be an All-American. It's a group that, when mixed with the current players there, will keep the Blue Devils in annual contention for championships."