Recruiting Primer: Class of 2009

With preseason practices beginning in just a few weeks, the focus for many Blue Devil fans is on the current roster. However, there will be several recruiting storylines to follow as the 2007-2008 season kicks off. TDD runs down which prospects are worth noting and following throughout the coming months.

Overview:
Currently the Blue Devils have identified two prospects that, depending on the source, have either been offered or are certain to be offered. In short California small forward Hollis Thompson and Florida guard Kenny Boynton are the top two targets on the recruiting radar for Duke at this early point in the class of 2009. Certainly it's a departure from previous practice for Duke to be so heavily committed to recruiting two specific players from the current crop of rising juniors, but it's also a sign of the times in the world of high major recruiting with several top prospects making their decision by the end of their junior years.

Aside from the two known prospects, the Blue Devils are involved with several other high majors ranging from rugged post players to dynamite scoring guards. The full roster of prospects will form as the current season goes along. After this season the Duke coaching staff will evaluate the potential roster in terms of potential early departures and which prospects are added from the class of 2007 in addition to 6'7 power forward Olek Czyz.

In the meantime, TDD has compiled a list of prospects worth following. This is, by no means, an official, nor exhaustive list of potential offers or prospect. Subscribers are able to utilize the My HotList option, which will provide email alerts every time your favorite prospects have an update posted.


Top Prospects:

Hollis Thompson (6'6, 180, SF): Out of Loyola High in Los Angeles, Thompson went from a top 100 sophomore to one of the elite high major prospects in the country in a matter of months. Described by Telep as "long and lean wing with very good ball skills and excellent feel for the game. Good shot to three-point line. Smart player with a very high upside."

In just the last few weeks he's seen a parade of top coaches come through gym at Loyola High for workouts. One of the most notable appearances was that of the entire Duke coaching staff in mid-September. In addition he's seen coaches from Arizona, UCLA, and Georgetown in the last month.

"[The recruiting process] has been fun, but I don't pay attention to it when I'm on the court. Right now I don't have a single favorite, but Georgetown, UCLA, Duke and North Carolina would be my top four. But I like a lot of schools. I'm still young and I'm taking my time right now."

With the usual West Coast ties of LA area prospects, Thompson's recruitment promises to be one of the big bi-coastal battles in the class between the local programs and at least one childhood favorite.

"I grew up a Duke fan and still am at heart," said Thompson. "When Coach K called me, I was just in awe. Coach Wojo and I talked about some of the record setting players they've had, which was big."

Despite the glowing reviews of the Blue Devil program, Thompson reports heavy interest in more localized schools such as Southern Cal and UCLA. Last year, Thompson unofficially visited Georgetown; he'll return to Hoyaland for Midnight Madness. He's seen the Hoyas, Bruins and Arizona Wildcats up close. In addition, he lists Southern Cal, Florida, North Carolina, Stanford, Cal, Wake Forest and Texas as programs of interest.


Kenny Boynton (6'2, 185, SG): Made a name for himself as a sophomore at American Heritage School (Plantation, FL) and for Team Breakdown on the AAU circuit. Boynton is a five star prospect and is rated as the nation's third best shooting guard prospect according to Scout.com's Dave Telep.

Telep describes Boynton's game as follows: "One of the top scoring threats in his class. Boynton is widely considered an elite level player. Working on rounding out his point guard package as he's a prolific scorer and state champion."

After breaking out early, Boynton immediately established himself as a high major target and quickly received several offers. Duke was among the first of the elite programs to jump in, and the talented Floridian took immediate notice. "I've seen Duke play, they like to have different styles of guards in their program and generally their guards are very successful, no matter what kind of game they have" Boynton told TDD.

Currently Boynton has offers from Duke, Louisville, Florida, Ohio State, Connecticut, Villanova, and several others.


Prospects of Interest:

Leslie McDonald (6'4, 185, SG): The five star shooting guard prospect out of Memphis' Briarcrest Christian School has seen numerous programs jump in with him early including offers from North Carolina, Memphis, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Stanford and Georgetown. The Blue Devils are among those schools that are extremely interested and there are scattered reports of a Duke offer. More likely, however, McDonald occupies the tier of recruits that is likely to be offered once the current Duke roster make up is finalized around April. That may be cutting it extremely close as there are indications this recruitment will likely be in the books before the start of his next AAU spring season.


Reeves Nelson (6'8, 215, PF): Another California prospect that has long been associated with interest from Duke, Nelson is rated as a four star prospect by Scout and the nation's #10 power forward. More of a combo forward than a power forward, Nelson is described as an "excellent leaper and great rebounder who can play inside or out.". Due to a late summer bout with bone spurs in his ankle, the talented prospect missed much of the last half of the summer. North Carolina,UCLA, Arizona, LSU, and Texas are all claimed as high interest players in this one. Nelson was quoted as understanding he has offers from each of those six programs.
Erik Murphy (6'9, 220, PF): Yet another big time prospect from the Northeast, this four star prospect is the son of former Boston College standout Jay Murphy. In the process of adding weight to a lanky frame, Murphy is regarded as a gifted inside scorer with a high hoops IQ around the basket. Murphy, who has already made unofficial visits to North Carolina and Duke, is planning his next trip for Marquette. The Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's School standout has a tentative date scheduled for October 12th. He is getting strong interest from Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Florida, UNC and Duke. Murphy indicates a goal of taking some official visits next fall before making a decision.

Despite being injured in May, Murphy had a chance to use the Gibbons TOC event to spend time touring the Duke campus with assistants Steve Wojcieshowski and Chris Collins. `They took me through the basketball facility," Murphy said. "They showed me video of Wojo and also of (Mike) Dunleavy and Christian (Laettner). The visit was nice," he added. "I like the campus.".


Greg Echenique (6'8, 255, C): A rising junior prospect from Danny Hurley's St. Benedict Prep (Newark, NJ), Enchenique is rated as a four start prospect and the number seven center in the class. A big interior player who does not shy away from contact in the paint, Echenique has garnered Duke interest and recently visited Durham for an unofficial visit. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Echenique has drawn comparisons to another St. Benedict international prospect - 2007 McDonald's All-American Samardo Samuels. Currently, in addition to preliminary Duke interest, the big man is hearing from Rutgers, Villanova, Syracuse, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Maryland.
Daniel Orton (6'11, 265, C): Arguably the top big man in the class (depending on the recruiting service), Orton is a product of the same AAU squad that produced Duke great Shelden Williams. Like Williams as a high school prospect, Orton drips with potential. Not only is Orton a talent, he has grown into a legitimate, pure center. Even if he adds face-up skills, his home in college, at the very least, will be in the pivot. And once a strong, tall big man like Orton is secured, the winning school will enjoy greater flexibility with respect to the power forward spot, because some of the essentials -- rebounding and post defense -- already will be covered.

While it's early in the process for Orton, his college recruitment is building momentum, as the regional schools that pursued him first now are facing serious national competition.

"My list is still wide open, getting bigger all the time," Orton said. "Ohio State, Oklahoma, Duke, Maryland, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, just a whole lot."

Orton is rated as a five star prospect and considered the number three center in the class.


On The Radar:

Jon Hood (6'6, 180, SF) - Madisonville (KY) North Hopkins HS - Recently observed in an open gym by assistant Steve Wojciechowski. According to Brian Hood, Jon's father, the family are also planning to take unofficial visits to Duke and Florida during Jon's fall break. They've already visited Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Western Kentucky. Currently, Duke has not yet offered. Rated as a three star prospect.


Lance Stephensen (6'5, 205, SF) - a five star prospect and the nation's top rated small forward in the class of 2009, Stephensen reported the four programs recruiting him the hardest over the summer were North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Texas, and West Virginia.
Royce White (6'8, 200, PF) - a four star prospect from De La Salle High (Minneapolis, MN) who has been in contact with the Duke staff. Despite a story in a local paper, White confirms he has not yet been offered a scholarship to Duke. "That was kind of a misunderstanding I think. I did not tell [the reporter] that. Maybe there is something that I do not know about that my coaches know about. You know how that goes. That's the way it has been since I was a freshman, he always knows more than me. The Duke thing, I'm not 100 percent sure on, so I wouldn't say, but I have been in contact with them and they will probably be up at the school sometime."
Other Prospects Claiming A Link To Duke Recruiting:

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