If you took a look at the Top 100 Basketball Rookies list on 247 Sports early on Friday, you may have noticed that the No.2 prospect was a young man from Pennsylvania named Dereck Lively. Adjacent to its name – beyond its height (7-1) and weight (220) and five gold stars – was a large blue “UK”, the logo of the University of Kentucky, which was located in a category identified as “Crystal Ball.”
The only 247 analyst bold enough to predict the outcome of Lively’s recruiting expected him to join the Wildcats. By the end of the day, the predictions were evenly split between Kentucky and Duke. And Monday morning, this indicator was 100% in favor of the Blue Devils, with 10 analysts and journalists all agreeing.
This was indicative of two issues, both of which will impact the immediate future of college basketball: Duke was almost certainly going to land the big hope that next year’s Blue Devils definitely need, and the recruiting rivalry. who developed between Kentucky and Duke over the past eight years will survive the departure of Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.
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“We discussed this at 247, and I agree that Duke is Duke,” analyst Brandon Jenkins told Sporting News. “Duke’s foundation is ‘The Brotherhood,’ and I think it’s so strong that they’re lucky to have the best players in high school.
“The Brotherhood isn’t just about bringing players into the league and getting them to be able to bring them to that second contract. It’s also the professionalism with the way a Duke player behaves. It not only attracts prospects. , but also the families of prospects. “
From a recruiting standpoint, The Brotherhood is now in the hands of Jon Scheyer, an American player and NCAA Champion at Duke in 2010 whose path to becoming a college head coach at 35 began with an injury to the eye that seriously affected his playing career. . He became an assistant coach in 2014, then was appointed in June to succeed Krzyzewski.
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Jason Jordan, who has covered basketball and recruiting for USA Today and now Sports Illustrated, spoke to Scheyer after receiving this designation and mentioned how important it would be for Duke to land an important class for 2022. – so much to deal with the perception of others that the program could fail without the most successful coach in the history of men’s college basketball.
“He owned it. It’s not just to keep up appearances, but that’s part of it,” Jordan told SN. “It will be major because he is 1-0 head-to-head. It’s impressive.”
Since John Calipari arrived in Kentucky in 2009, the Wildcats have been the nation’s No.1 recruiting class in seven of 12 seasons. However, since Krzyzewski chose with the Class of 2014 to also focus on recruiting the best potential players – the players who were likely to become “one and done” in college – Duke landed first in the rankings of 247. four times and Kentucky twice. . It’s close in between now, with Duke owning the commitments of prospects No.2 (Lively), No.5 (small forward Dariq Whitehead), No.8 (center Kyle Filipowski) and No.56 (shooter Jaden Schutt) by versus Kentucky securing commitments from Prospects No.1 (shooter Shaedon Sharpe), No.6 (small forward Chris Livingston) and No.17 (play guard Skyy Clark).
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Bringing together the upper class can have consequences. Or not. Duke’s 2014 class included Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, and they were the most important players in securing the 2015 NCAA Championship. But the 2016 class which included Jayson Tatum couldn’t avoid a surprise in the runner-up. round of the NCAA tournament. The 2011 Kentucky class of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague delivered the 2012 NCAA title to Lexington. But the 2020 class which included BJ Boston ended in a losing season.
Some years the # 1 class includes a truly transformational player like Davis, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1966. Some years there isn’t much more in an entire class than LeBron James, the best player in 2003. James has scored 35,367 career NBA points; even with the great Chris Paul included, the next nine in that year’s ranking have a career average of 5,283 points. You could have signed all nine of the guys ranked immediately behind James that year, but the team that signed LeBron would have had the top class.
It wouldn’t have been classified that way, however. Sites like 247 use a formula in their class ranking based on the number of top players entered by a program and where those players rank. This is one way of trying to make the ranking as objective as possible.
Lively is a 7-1 center from Bellefonte, Pa. Who currently attends Westtown School in the eastern state. Jenkins has compared him to Tyson Chandler for his drive and ability to protect the rim, but as one would hope with a grown-up big man in the analytics age, there is also the potential to play far from the goal. in attack.
“I wouldn’t say he’s consistent, but he’s definitely capable. I really think that’s part of his game that continues to expand,” Jenkins said. “He’s going to have an instant impact on winning.”
It hasn’t been very often that Duke and Kentucky have gone head-to-head with a player like they did with Lively, but Duke’s success in landing him shows that he will remain a force in recruiting against. everyone, including the Kentucky program whose success in this arena produced four Final Fours and seven Elite Eights in addition to the 2012 national title.