Boldly going, Duke is set to be on the receiving end of a $3.2 million FBI donation this summer. A gift as bright as that is sure to spark some hard-hitting, eye-opening stories.
In January, Duke had 11 scholarship players, including five freshmen. In April, it had nine. Now, Duke is down to eight. That is a huge blow to the Blue Devils, who could be the preseason ACC favorite now that they are without at least one of their top players.
John Scheyer is forgiven for mixing up the words the first few times. Finally, in the past 41 years, only one person has been able to use Duke’s head coaching label in recruiting men’s basketball.
Did Shayer have to clean himself up first?
Luckily I knew what to say, Shayer said with a smile.
Scheyer won’t officially become Duke’s head coach until next spring, but he has already taken on the Blue Devils’ recruiting efforts. Mike Krzyzewski was not on the court for the two live shows in June, and he will not be on the court for the three live shows in July. Scheyer, assistant head coach Chris Carrawell and new assistant Nolan Smith will be in charge of the 2022 class.
And they’ve been busy, as Duke was only offered a 2022 scholarship last month.
Because of the COVID, it was a one-time year and we were only tied to the season, Scheyer said. At the end of the day, I think the coach realized he couldn’t continue coaching and managing. He wouldn’t make an offer to a rookie unless they kept working here. But when the news broke, we were able to act quickly and develop a plan.
Scheyer is more than familiar with the authority Duke brings to the recruiting trail; he’s backed it up. Since 2014, the Blue Devils have become perhaps the most successful recruiting program in the country – and Shyer was with them every step of the way at Krzyzewski State in Durham, North Carolina. In the past eight classes, Duke has been ranked first by ESPN four times, second three times and third once.
During that time, the Blue Devils recruited 27 five-star prospects, with Scheier being the primary recruiter of several players in that group.
I know first hand the expectations of this work. We have gone through several innovations during my tenure, but what remains constant is that we recruit great players and great people. That won’t change. As a coach, you talk about a lot of things, but the best thing you can do is get better players, Scheyer said. Players who want to win. That doesn’t change for us. I believe in what we have here, I believe in the school.
Duke had productive recruiting weeks despite the seismic shift on the 4th. The month of June has come and gone. Scheyer made his first offer to prospect Derek Lively (No. 10), and Lively visited Durham at the end of the month. Elite forward Daric Whitehead (No. 6) took an official visit to Duke, and the Blue Devils might be the favorites to contract him when he returns Jan. 1. August announces his commitment.
It’s a little different, but I liked it, Whitehead said of the upcoming change. Coach Scheyer played with Krzyzewski, so he knows what he’s talking about.
Other invitees included Mark Mitchell (No. 19) and Kyle Filipowski (No. 20), while Scheyer made two more 2022 offers in Anthony Black (No. 27) and J.J. Starling (No. 38).
Duke is a school that everyone looked up to as a kid. Knowing that the coaches think I’m good enough to play at this level is a good feeling, Black said. Especially with Coach Scheyer already in the program, I think he’ll do well.
The seeds for Jon Scheyer’s first team for the 2022-23 season will be planted this summer. Grant Halverson/Getty Images
The recruitment landscape is changing
The shoe manufacturer has been supporting local coach competitions for two years. The recruitment landscape changed dramatically during this period. And it’s not just about Krzyzewski and Roy Williams leaving.
There were no in-person evaluations or campus visits for 15 months – this period ended at 1. June. This has led to a complete change in the timetable and the recruitment cycle. At this stage of the normal cycle there would be few official visits, but from the end of August a regular flow would start. But the players were eager to come to the campus and the coaches were eager to welcome the aspirants. The past weeks were therefore dominated by official and unofficial visits.
It was thought that earlier official visits would speed up recruitment times, but this has not proved to be the case. Currently, only three five-star 2022 students have committed, and most are waiting to see what happens in July before planning more visits in August and the fall.
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In addition, the recruitment signs and objectives are less specific than in the past. The two weekends in June where coaches could observe players at certified high school events were helpful, but it was only the first face-to-face with potential players – and it was just a chance for coaches to go out and see their peers. The month of July has an extra significance this year.
We spent as much time cutting people from the team as we did adding people, one coach said of the June season.
It was like, you see? But people got over it, another coach said. I think you’ll see some more attention in July.
The transfer portal has also experienced significant growth in recent years, as the NCAA’s one-time transfer exemption – in addition to the additional year granted as a result of COVID-19 – has led to a significant influx of players on the portal. Programs like Kentucky and Texas, which used to focus more on high school recruits, opted for the transfer route this spring during the rebuilding phase.
Texas’ new coach, Chris Beard, has hit the transfer portal hard this season, at the expense of recruiting at the high school this cycle. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images
How will this affect school enrollment? Will programs admit fewer high school graduates to ensure enough seats for transfer students next spring?
We have four scholarships in 2022. How many of them will be schoolchildren? Alone? Says a great coach. We’ll be on the other side of the portal.
There are also plans to introduce NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) surcharges, but we are far from agreeing how this will look in practice. Since July 1, college athletes have been allowed to earn money through sponsorships and other activities, and within days hundreds of deals have already been made. Some schools are better prepared and more committed than others, and we’ll find out a lot more in the weeks and months to come.
But, of course, it will level the playing field between college basketball and the growing number of career paths: G League Ignite, National Basketball League, Overtime Elite.
For me, it definitely has a positive impact on college basketball, said Chris Livingston, a top-10 prospect. Every athlete wants to get paid for what they do, especially when others are making money off you.
Questions above 2022
Since he came on the scene a few years ago, Emony Bates has clearly been the No. 1 pick in the 2022 class and is considered the best prospect in high school basketball. Jalen Duren has narrowed the gap in recent months, however, and as Paul Biancardi and Adam Finkelstein wrote last week, if we were to simply evaluate who is the best high school basketball player in the country, Duren would have a strong case.
Bates and Duren played together in the second half of Team Final’s spring program, but Bates is expected to return to his father’s program, Bates Fundamentals, to participate in the prestigious EYBL and Peach Jam.
Will Jalen Duren be the best player of the 2022 class? Macy Kate Herges.
However, the conversation surrounding Bates and Duren is not limited to their performance on the field. Both players have different options, and it is unclear whether they will play in high school, college or the pros next season.
Bates is more likely than Duren to be in high school this fall. He turned 17 in January, making him ineligible for the 2022 NBA Draft regardless of where he plays next season. So the likely scenario for him is to spend another year at Ypsi Prep Academy in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan, before making a decision. Schools are recruiting him as if he has a real chance of getting into college: He is wanted by Texas, Michigan, Tennessee and others.
Duren probably has more options to consider at this point in the cycle. He is considering a transfer in 2021, which would allow him to play in college or in the G-League next season. Last week, he narrowed his list down to five possibilities: Kentucky, Memphis, Miami, the G-League and the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia.
Duren has visited each of the last three universities on his list, and there is talk – but no confirmation – of transfer offers worth seven figures in the region.
Will Kentucky re-establish itself at the top of the recruiting pyramid?
While Memphis (2019) and Michigan (2021) received the No. 1 ranking two of the last three years, Kentucky and Duke were the dominant forces on the recruiting trail for most of the decade.
From 2014 to 2018, the Wildcats and Blue Devils had the No. 1 and No. 2 classes in their respective orders each year, while Kentucky was No. 1 in four of the last five years. Although their dominance at the top has waned somewhat in recent years, both programs still rank first and second in the 2020 rankings, and both were in the top 5 even when Memphis and Michigan had better classes.
Does Krzyzewski’s inevitable departure open the door for Kentucky to re-establish itself as the dominant recruiting program at the top of the college basketball chain?
With Coach K no longer a factor, John Calipari and Kentucky could become an even bigger force on the road. Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports
John Calipari certainly recruits the team with that mindset. While Kentucky primarily used the transfer portal to rebuild last spring, the Wildcats were aggressive in the 2022 class.
They are one of the leaders for Duren and also spent the month of June hosting a number of five-star candidates on campus: Chris Livingston (#5), Shaedon Sharp (#8), Brandon Miller (#9) and Derek Lively (#10). The Wildcats have already received a commitment from point guard Skye Clark (#13), and they continue to pursue Keyonta George (#4), Jayden Bradley (#14), Adem Bohn (#15) and others.
Latest news on the top 10 in 2022
It’s too early for the Hot Board to release official projections for the 2022 class, but here’s a quick look at the top 10 recruits in the rising senior class.
1. Emony Bates, SF, Ypsi Prep (Michigan), Team Final/Bates Fundamentals (Nike)
Bates chose Michigan State in late April after promising to transfer to the Spartans last summer. The belief that Bates will never play in college is still widespread, but the odds are better than they were a year ago. Participating schools include Memphis, Texas and Tennessee.
2. Jalen Duren, C, Montverde Academy (Florida), Team Finals (Nike)
Earlier, we put Duren under the microscope, but he only has five options left: Kentucky, Memphis, Miami, the G-League and the NBL. He attended all three universities on this list.
3. Amari Bailey, SG, Sierra Canyon (CA) High School, Strive For Greatness (Nike)
Bailey went to UCLA and was selected by the Bruins in February.
4. Keyonte George, SG, iSchool of Lewisville, Texas, Southern Assault (Adidas)
George announced his top five in May: Baylor, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kentucky. He was very busy in June. For weeks he visited Texas, Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma. He hasn’t been to Kentucky yet. George also stated that he was focused on college rather than his career path.
5. Chris Livingston, SF, Akron Buchtel (Ohio) High School, We Can All Go (Adidas)
Livingston has 11 other options on the list, including 10 schools and Overtime Elite. And he’s still in the early stages of the recruiting process, having only visited Kentucky in June. His next visit is not scheduled until August, when he will travel to Tennessee.
Emony Bates is still in the running, but it is unclear if he will choose college basketball. Macy Kate Herges.
6. Darick Whitehead, SF, Montverde (FL) Academy, Team Durant (Nike)
Whitehead’s recruitment could be the next to end if he gets into the first round. August has arrived. He made three official visits to Duke, Florida State and Kansas in June. He also told ESPN that he has no intention of returning to school until he makes his decision.
7. Jazian Gortman, SG, W.J. High School. Keenan, South Carolina, Nightrydas Elite (Nike)
Gortman, one of the top movers in the rankings, visited two ACC schools in June. He visited the state of Florida in early June and went to Wake Forest last week. A number of other schools are also participating, including South Carolina, Alabama and Illinois.
8. Shaedon Sharp, SF, Dream City Christian (Arizona), UPlay Canada (Nike)
The Canadian made his first official visit to Kentucky, followed by an unofficial visit to Arizona a few days later. There are plenty of other schools, and Sharp seems to want to take his time recruiting.
9. Brandon Miller, SF, Cane Ridge High School (Tennessee), Brad Beal Elite (Nike)
Miller was one of the most active ESPN 100 candidates in June, with scheduled visits to Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, and he also visited Tennessee last week. She has also been approached by many professional organizations, but the focus is on the college.
10. Derek Lively, c, Westtown (PA) High School, Team Finals (Nike)
In recent weeks, Lively has made several moves in his recruitment and is the first recruit to receive a formal offer from Scheyer. He made official visits to North Carolina, Kentucky and Duke, and made an unofficial trip to Pennsylvania. The seven schools Lively selected are these four, plus Florida State, Michigan and UCLA.
Race for Class 1
It is still very early in the recruiting cycle, and as mentioned earlier, there has been no rush of commitments since the official visits in June. Only three sophomores with five stars have committed, and only 26 on the ESPN 100 list have not yet committed.
Seven programs each have multiple candidates on the ESPN 100 list, with Memphis leading the way with three candidates after Noah Batchelor’s commitment on Sunday. The other six – UCLA, Syracuse, Ohio State, UConn, LSU and Kansas – each have two newcomers to the ESPN 100 list.
Memphis’ three candidates are at the bottom of the ESPN 100 list. So if Penny Hardaway wants to top the 2022 cycle for the second time in four years, the Tigers will need to bring in an elite project. Bates or Duren would certainly do it.
In the latter group, the Bruins have a distinct advantage. They have the highest rated player in the country, point guard Amari Bailey, who is backed up by point guard Dylan Andrews. Mick Cronin will have to work hard to stay at the top of the standings, even though the Bruins welcomed five-star player Mark Mitchell in June.
Mick Cronin and UCLA stood out with a strong 2022 class. Photo: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
Ohio State recruited two ESPN 100 prospects last fall, Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle, and in 2022 Chris Holtmann recruited a third player, three-star defensive end Bowen Hardman. The Bucs also received official visits in June from five-star attackers Jaras Walker and Kyle Filipowski, as well as aspirants Dillon Mitchell, Julian Phillips and A.J. Casey.
Kansas was active in the spring of 2022, with a commitment from Grady Dick State and, last week, ESPN 100 forward Zubi Ejiofor. Bill Self and the Jayhawks also welcomed ESPN 100 prospects Keyonte George, Darik Whitehead, Mark Mitchell, Nick Smith, Aidan Shaw, Jayden Epps and others in June.
Kentucky and Duke will likely have the upper hand, as the Wildcats have been one of the most aggressive programs in the country to bring five-star prospects to campus in June, and Duke has already had four five-star prospects on official visits to Durham.
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