By Mychal Hunter
College basketball recruiting fascinates me. It is the part of the game that I know the least about by far, yet is the part of the game that interests me the most. I can identify good X’s and O’s coaches, what prep players have a jumper that translates to the college level and I can identify breakout players with a very high rate of accuracy, but when it comes to recruiting I am a step behind.
That said, Duke University is currently in position to put together the greatest freshman class ever assembled with the 2019 class.
Now, during the one and done era there have been some classes that rival the legendary “Fab Five” Michigan class that featured Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard, which is still the gold standard in my opinion.
I was fooled last year. I thought the 2017 Blue Devil’s class was the greatest, but Duval did not live up to my Derrick Rose prediction. It is still a top 7 class ever, but not the best.
Duke’s 2016 recruiting class was up there, but Harry Giles was a shadow of his former self and Marques Bolden and Frank Jackson underwhelmed.
In my eyes Duke’s 2014 class would rank second all-time. Okafor, Winslow, Jones and Allen is an incredible class and winning the NCAA Championship only solidifies that.
Kentucky’s 2014 class is up there as well. KAT, Lyles, Booker and Ulis is incredible. I would put them just behind the Duke championship squad.
For the 2019 class, Duke could have as many as seven ‘ships available. Vrankovic will graduate and I expect this to be the first and only or last season for Bolden, Jones, Barrett, Zion, Reddish and Baker. I have to beleive that Baker jumped early just to start his NBA clock.
While I am not a huge believer in the clairvoyance of the crystal ball, let’s take a look at who they are currently predicted to land:
- Cole Anthony: Son for former UNLV star and NY Knicks point guard Greg Anthony, this kid is the best overall guard in the 2019 class. He is mostly a scorer, but he has the chops do whatever it takes to get the W.
- Isaiah Stewart: This 6’8, 245 pound true post is the number 5 recruit in the country. He reminds me of Shawn Kemp, without the hookers and blow.
- Teammates Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis: A couple of 6’5 wings, Antoine is the scorer and Lewis is the guy that does everything well. Both are top ten guys and both are incredible. Duke is favored for Antoine in the crystal ball while Lewis has Florida in the lead, albeit at 44%.
- Josiah James: The #12 recruit in the country, James is my favorite type of player: a huge point guard. Cole Anthony can easily slide to the two spot and play off the ball making James the point man, his natural position.
If those five come together in Durham that spells championship. Write that down. That class has shooting, rebounding, defense and swagger. Now, recruiting is fluid, things change literally everyday and with the departure of Jeff Capel who knows if Duke will continue to be the kings of the OAD era. That said, it will always interest me to watch the classes come together and see how the different personifies mesh.