Duke basketball could find itself in a familiar position with the 2019 recruiting class: finding enough pieces to reload. And that’s why ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, when writing about the Blue Devils’ biggest needs in the class, listed “probably everything.”
“The only problem with landing the top three prospects in a given class is you might have to repeat the task the following season,” Borzello wrote. “That’s where Mike Krzyzewski finds himself, as R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish are all one-and-done prospects. Duke is in pursuit of a couple of point guards, although Tre Jones should be fine there for a year or two. But the Blue Devils pretty much need everything else. Among their top targets are Carey, Isaiah Stewart, Bryan Antoine and Wendell Moore, as well as Cole Anthony and Josiah James at the point.”
The Duke trio didn’t quite wind up as the top three players in the 247Sports Composite, which combines and averages the rankings from the major recruiting networks (including both 247Sports and ESPN). But they weren’t far off — Barrett and Reddish wound up 1-2, but Williamson slid down to No. 5 in the final 247Sports Composite rankings.
Even so, all three players represent the No. 1 player at their position. Barrett is the top shooting guard, Reddish the top small forward and Williamson the top power forward. So it wouldn’t be any kind of surprise to see all three players leave college behind after this season. And one of the players Borzello didn’t mention, center Marques Bolden, has been receiving praise from Krzyzewski, who has said that he could be one of the country’s best big men. If that happens, look for Bolden, the No. 14 overall player in the 2016 247Sports Composite to also make a move.
Should all that happen, Duke could face a serious numbers and talent drain from this year’s roster.
The good news? Duke is either favored or lodged firmly in the recruitment of pretty much every player Borzello listed.
Duke has the bulk of the 247Sports Crystal Ball picks for Carey (54 percent), Anthony (83) and Stewart (90), which would give the Blue Devils a terrific combo guard to pair with Jones and the nation’s top post duo. And it would give Duke three of the top five players in the 247Sports Composite for the second consecutive year.
And that doesn’t even count Antoine, the No. 1 shooting guard and No. 10 overall player in the 247Sports Composite, whose 247Sports Crystal Ball is 93 percent Duke, nor James, the No. 12 overall player with an 86 percent Duke crystal ball and Moore, the No. 20 overall player whose predictions run 88 percent Duke.
Look, 247Sports Crystal Balls aren’t everything. There are times when players buck just about every prediction and pull a surprise out of the hat, just as Zion Williamson did when he chose Duke.