Before Monday, Duke had already secured one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
Then four-star guard Cassius Stanley announced his decision to play for Duke, giving the Blue Devils a surprise recruiting victory with a player many thought was leaning UCLA or Kansas while likely securing the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class.
With Stanley’s commitment, Duke now has five top-50 players for 2019 with three of them ranked in Rivals’ top 13.
No. 1 Vernon Carey (center), No. 7 Matthew Hurt (forward), No. 13 Wendell Moore (forward), No. 33 Stanley (guard) and No. 42 Boogie Ellis (guard) make up another elite haul for Mike Krzyzewski.
Two top-40 players remain uncommitted with No. 4 Cole Anthony (guard) expected to choose North Carolina, but still on Duke’s radar and No. 6 Jaden Williams (forward) expected to choose between Washington, San Diego State and Texas.
Coach K the recruiting king
Krzyzewski’s latest class marks the sixth straight year he’ll land a consensus top-two class. The two years since 2014 that Duke didn’t have the consensus top class were in tight races with Kentucky in 2016 and ‘17 when both schools loaded up on top NBA prospects.
Duke’s 2016 class included four of Rivals’ top 12 prospects including Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, while the 2017 class included four top-18 prospects headlined by Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter.
So, yeah. There was no shame in finishing No. 2 in the eyes of some those seasons.
Recruiting wins don’t equal March wins
While Duke fans should be rightfully excited over winning another recruiting season, they can be forgiven if they’re not booking their travel plans yet for the Final Four.
Krzyzewski has supplanted Kentucky’s John Calipari as the king of recruiting in recent years. But it hasn’t translated to success in March.
The 2014 class that included Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen rewarded Krzyzewski with his fifth national championship. But each ensuing class has failed to reach the NCAA tournament’s final weekend.
Duke’s most disappointing result?
2018’s blockbuster class headlined by Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish led to many anointing Duke as the runaway favorite to win the national championship.
That team spectacularly fell short of the Final Four when Michigan St. defeated them in the Elite Eight.
It’s the latest Duke team to underachieve in March and hammers home how difficult it’s been for Krzyzewski to translate top freshman talent into tournament success in the one-and-done era.
Both Duke and Kentucky (2012 with Anthony Davis) have cut down the nets with freshmen-led teams in recent years. But they’e also watched as teams with veteran talent have proven to be more consistently successful in March.
Of course, that track record won’t and shouldn’t prevent Krzyzewski from loading up on the best talent possible, even if the strategy has led to more disappointment than success.
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