Duke Blue Devils: Is Duke Becoming Kentucky?


The Duke Blue Devils added yet another five star recruit to a class full of them and that has to beg the question…has Duke embraced the Calipari theory of life?

The Duke Blue Devils have spent a quiet recruiting season in 2016. They brought in three freshmen who we hope will have a big impact on the season. They include one five star player and two four star players. They even added a three star forward for depth. Wait that’s not right.

No that’s North Carolina’s recruiting class. The Duke Blue Devils have gone the full Kentucky with the 2016 recruiting class, adding four marquee freshmen and making them an instant threat for the NCAA Title this year. Next year? We’ll worry about that when we get there.

Duke added Marques Bolden, the highest rated center in the 2016 class. Naturally Bolden’s other major suitor was Kentucky. The Blue Devils went from begging Derryck Thornton to give up his senior year of high school last year to kicking him out the door and likely starting a whole team of freshmen plus Grayson Allen.

More from Duke Blue Devils

Why has Duke been able to increase its recruiting over the last few years? The answer has several parts. One is the addition of assistant Jeff Capel, who has a recruiting background. The other is Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s profile among college coaches especially with his link to the Olympic teams. The third is the uncertainty and scandal surrounding one of K’s biggest competitors in the past, North Carolina.

In 2009 before the football team was investigated for benefits, North Carolina was coming off the national title with the crew of Tyler Hansbrough and a raft full of future NBA players. The most coveted recruit in basketball was Harrison Barnes and his final decision was between Duke and Chapel Hill.

Barnes chose baby blue over royal blue. Fast forward to the various reports on the academic scandal at UNC and you will see the quality of the recruiting classes weaken. The very best were not coming to Chapel Hill because they were afraid the school would be put on probation and they would have wasted their choice.

More from Old North Banter

In 2015 this led to the biggest indicator of all. Brandon Ingram, a player raised by the Carolina establishment in Kinston, rejected the chance to be Marvin Williams with the Tar Heels to play a year with a Duke team looking for a direction the year after their own national title. This was Barnes in reverse and psychologically worse since Barnes was from Iowa and no ties to Durham when he picked against them.

The final element I think is that Coach K knows he is in the last years of his career. He is more willing to take short term guys because he himself is a short term guy. He is trying to maximize the number of championship runs that he gets. So we go from a school that was angry at Corey Maggette for jumping ship to one that assumes players won’t be around for long.

Next: Duke Players getting Chances Post NFL Draft

It is a strange role reversal for UNC and Duke. It is also a strange moment for the legacy of Coach K. Coach K was always hated because he could beat you with his teams because of his system (The 90s teams had buckets of talent as did the 2001 team). Now he is moving away from that and just trying to beat you with better players.