Undoubtedly, some of the best current NCAA recruiters over the past few years have been Kentucky’s John Calipari, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Kansas’ Bill Self, and of course Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Finally embracing the one-and-done philosophy in the college game, Coach K parlayed landing the top recruiting class last season, made up of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen, and Tyus Jones, into winning the program’s 5th National Title in 2015. After a stellar NCAA Tournament, Allen is returning and will be an integral part of the roster, but Okafor, Winslow, and Jones are all projected as 1st Round selections in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft.
But with only sophomore Allen returning next season, Coach K once again hit the recruiting trail hard to reel in yet another top rated class, consisting of Top 100 rated players Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, Luke Kennard, along with Class of 2016 transfer Derrick Thornton, who will reclassify to 2015 and probably start at point guard right away.
How does one replace Duke’s “Big 3” that produced such tremendous results from last season? If you are the Duke coaching staff, it’s through once again besting every other Division I program to nab the #1 rated recruiting class for the 2nd consecutive offseason.
Tops on the list is 6’8 forward Brandon Ingram, the nation’s #3 ranked recruit, who chose the Blue Devils over heated rival UNC, possibly because of potential sanctions coming down from the NCAA against the Tarheels for academic issues. He’s a long and lanky small forward, who can score in waves and is a potential one-and-done player.
Okafor’s replacement will be another highly touted big man Chase Jeter, who played at the famed Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas. The 6’10 and 215lb Jeter may not be the offensive force that Okafor was but he is a much better defender and will hold his own in the post.
The Blue Devils will also rely heavily on high scoring swingman Luke Kennard, who was such a prolific scorer in high school that he surpassed the legendary Lebron James in all time points in the state of Ohio.
The point guard position, a potential problem spot with Tyus Jones leaving after one season, was shored up by the addition of Derryck Thornton, the #17 prospect in the 2016 Class, who will reclassify to 2015 and play right away. Thornton is an elite talent that has already drawn comparisons to former Duke great Kyrie Irving, possessing elite handles, high athleticism, and an innate basketball IQ.
3 Star big man Antonio Vrankovic, a bruising PF/C from Croatia as well as 6’8 forward Justin Robinson, the son of NBA great David Robinson round out the remainder of the incoming freshman class. Will they be enough to offset the losses of Okafor, Winslow, Jones, and Quinn Cook?
Check out a video from the ACC Network giving you a quick preview of potentially the new “Big 3” next season…..
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, Balltribe.com, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.