Brandon Ingram can swing the ACC


About three hours from now, Brandon Ingram will drop his decision and the landscape of college basketball could be irrevocably changed. Why? Because like many recruits over the years, he will pick between Duke and North Carolina. Or he won’t.

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  • My memory may be fuzzy, but I believe that Harrison Barnes was the last big recruit that could have gone either way relatively late in the recruiting game. But Barnes is only an exception due to when he announced. Every major Duke recruit probably has a letter from Chapel Hill and every Tar Heel recruit probably also has a letter from Duke.

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    Ingram is a special case. He hails from the city of Kinston, which is the land of Jerry Stackhouse and Reggie Bullock. His early basketball experience was on Stackhouse sponsored teams. That is a clear tie to the greater Carolina family. However Ingram is also aware of the ongoing investigation at UNC over academic issues, and he wants to steer clear of it.

    That could lead him to Duke, the great rival of UNC. Duke would love to have him too as Coach Mike Krzyzewski tries to rebuild from the defections of a championship season. Ingram would go a long way to fixing that.

    Finally there is the unknown. Duke/UNC is a polarizing decision where one is likely to hate you for joining the other. It might be safer to go to Kansas and avoid the mess all together. Or take on the world by going to NC State, a decision that might make him a god in Raleigh by that decision alone.

    So let’s look at the options:


    If Ingram chooses Duke it means that Duke will be relying on four freshmen this year, Derryk Thornton, Luke Kinnard, Chase Jeter, and Ingram. Pair that group with Amile Jefferson and you may have an even younger starting five than Duke had last year. Would they be dangerous? Yes. Would they be ready? Probably not. They could still win an open ACC, though.

    It also would make Duke look a lot like Kentucky. Is that on purpose, or just the way the cards have fallen? This kind of recruiting puts a premium on Jeff Capel.

    North Carolina:

    At this point the Tar Heels are a well-oiled machine. Everybody knows everybody else, they just need something to push them over the top. Like they needed Marvin Williams in 2005 and Ed Davis in 2009. In this case they need a more dangerous shooter than their roster currently possesses sans Marcus Paige.

    Is Ingram that guy? Maybe. Ingram is listed as a wing in recruiting lists, and the absence of JP Tokoto means that there are minutes to be had there. He would give the Heels a rather big lineup if he and Justin Jackson are on the court together (and they would be).

    At, Duke it might feel like title or bust, but this year’s Tar Heel team definitely is.

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    Ingram going to Kansas or State leaves the Tar Heels and Blue Devils where they are right now. Oh there are still recruits out there, but none who can swing the Triangle like this. He fits their plans so well. Both would rather see him at Kansas than with their rival.

    They don’t want him at State either. In a summer where Notre Dame, Duke, and Louisville lost big pieces, State maintained the core of their roster and is in good position to make a run at the conference. Ingram going there would raise the stakes a bit where State fans have not seen them in a while.

    So enjoy the show, someone is going to be unhappy tomorrow.

    Next: Derryk Thornton: Duke-Bound This Year