Simply Duke Basketball Series: “Ro on Recruiting” Installment #1

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

This is the 1st Installment of our summer series by Rowan Shiell.  In this article, he examines the big picture, which promises to change quite rapidly as Coach K settles on his team for next season, so stay tuned !!!

Duke had both their prized recruits on display at the Nike Hoop Summit, which is a more structured level of competition as opposed to the McDonald’s All American game, or the Jordan Brand Classic.

The USA lost to a World Team for the 3rd year in a row, which means that the game is changing at the roots.  It won’t be long before USA will struggle to dominate the International Competition at the top of the game.  This will be a problem for the coach that follows Coach Krzyzewski, as it will be another 5 years before this happens due to the disposition of the talent level worldwide. It isn’t hard to predict that Canada and Australia are the frontrunners to unseat America when this happens.

As for the World Game at hand, there was good news and bad news.

The Bad 

Chase Jeter: Five points, five rebounds, one steal, 1-5 FG

Jeter is another player that seemed to struggle to finish against the World Team’s length.  His physical tools are certainly apparent, but the skill level just isn’t quite there yet.  This is okay, given that he was the youngest of the big men in camp this week.  He’s not a “one-and-done,” but he will certainly have a shot at the NBA due to his athleticism and size.

The good

Luke Kennard

You can turn that around and say its great that Jeter will be around for more than one season and bad that Kenard may be gone after a year.  Jeter was anticipated as a “one and done” player but the fact that Duke was still recruiting Caleb Swanigan (committed to Michigan State) should have been a sign that they were not happy with just Jeter.  With Sean Obi coming off his Red Shirt year, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson returning as Seniors, they all and should get more playing time.

Kennard is a high scoring Guard who is now a legend in Ohio.  As a Senior he averaged 38.1 points, a hairline shy of 10 Rebounds, almost 6 Assists and 2 Steals.  One can assume, with all the recent accolades, that he will leave if he has a good Freshman season at Duke.  He just outplayed Malik Newman for Team USA, who is considered the top combo Guard in the 2015 class.

Kennard is compared to JJ Reddick and Jon Scheyer because of his ability to shoot, this being reinforced after he won the McDonald’s All American 3 Point Contest.  He can also utilise his 6’6″ frame to finish strong at the rim.

The way Duke uses him will be dependant on Duke getting another Point Guard to replace Tyus Jones, who is leaving for the NBA Draft.  If Duke can’t get a Point Guard, then Kennard will probably be utilised as a Lead Guard. Lets hope he is more Jon Scheyer than Jimmer Fredette.

Chase Jeter on the other hand is losing ground fast. Jahlil Okafor is a tough act to follow, yet this hasn’t deterred Jeter from committing to Duke in the wake of the Freshman Of the Year.  From Loren Woods to the Wear twins, the guy, or guys, that follows the dominating big guy is always torn to shreds, as expectation levels are too high to maintain.

Loren Woods followed Tim Duncan at Wake Forest and the Wear twins followed Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina.  They all eventually transferred and found happiness elsewhere.

Jeter, will have help, at Duke, in the form of Jefferson and Rice transfer, Sean Obi, however it needs to be reinforced that Jeter is no Okafor, who was the consensus #1 recruit coming to Duke. Jeter is currently ranked 9th by ESPN. Where one is a low post banger, albeit one of the best to ever play in college basketball in a very long time, the other is more of a finesse player who plays facing the basket.

Jeter is connected to Duke in a surprising way. Chris Jeter was one of those kids that were given a second chance at UNLV after flaming out somewhere else.  Today the elder Jeter is a police officer in Las Vegas. The surprising aspect is that his son is now committed to Duke, who had a turbulent history with UNLV back in the early ’90’s when Jeter was enrolled there.

One other recruit that is on Duke’s radar is Brandon Ingram, a North Carolina kid who had a good showing at the Hoop Summit.

Brandon Ingram: 12 points, 5-6 FG, 3 Rebounds, one Assist.

Ingram played a “small-ball” 4 (in quotations because he’s still nearly 6-foot-10, after all) for a majority of his minutes, and it’s a role he excelled in against the bigger World frontline.  Ingram showed off the ability to pull up off the dribble in the midrange for jumpers, the ability to slash in the lane for lay-ins, as well as get out in transition for a guy his size.  He still needs to put on a lot of weight, but with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and his smooth athleticism, he could end up being one of the better prospects in this class when it’s all said and done. Defensively he’s more of a mixed bag, as his stance is rather hunched over and isn’t ideal.  The key will be making the right college decision, and ending up in the right situation that will play him in the role he was deployed in today.  He is a developmental guy, but one that could really blossom soon.

Ingram is currently considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Based on the fact that he hasn’t committed to a school yet, Kentucky may be the favourite here.  The Wildcats already have a commitment from Charles Mathews, and Alex Poythress will be back.  The stumbling block here is if Jaylen Brown signs with Kentucky Ingram could be the odd man out.

If I was a top ten wing prospect I would avoid UNC because of Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson.  All these guys are interchangeable, and may be the reason why UNC struggled over the past season. Coach Roy Williams has recruited one too many 6’6″ to 6’9″ guys who can’t shoot from far, and can’t bang in the Post.  The exceptions here are Jackson, who showed promise as a shooter and Johnson who finishes well around the hoop, but could enter the upcoming NBA Draft, like Tokono. Ingram, who fits into the same category as all these guys but has a higher ceiling, and will always be looking over his shoulder at numerous guys that can replace him.

This means that it is either Duke or Kansas for Ingram. Brown is also considering Kansas.  If Ingram wants to stay in state his best option, from his list, is Duke because with the departure of Justise Winslow he will have ample playing time, and Duke will sink or swim with him.

Kansas has only Brannen Greene, at Small Forward, with the departure Kelly Oubre to the NBA Draft.  So, Kansas can provide Ingram with as much playing time as Duke, however he will be one Jay Hawk among many unlike at Duke where he will more than likely have ample opportunities to shine individually and as part as a team.

The importance of the last aspect cannot be understated. Coming into the season there were 4 Small Forwards rated above Justise Winslow.  They were all ranked in the Top 15, with Winslow bring up the rear, but now he will more than likely be the top Small Forward chosen in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Why ??? Stanley Johnson went to Arizona and divided minutes with Rondae Hollis Jefferson. Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson both went to North Carolina. Kansas faltered down the stretch.

All these players struggled at one point or anotherm but guess which player was allowed to play through his struggles and it paid dividends at the end of the season ???  Justice Winslow.  The only guy smart enough to go to a school where he was needed. When Pinson got hurt Roy Williams replaced him with Jackson.  When Stanley Johnson struggled, Sean Miller benched him in favour of Hollis Jefferson.  Oubre had a strong finish to his season but I have yet to hear a strong argument of him over Winslow.


Thanks for reading !!!

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