With the calendar switching over to October, the next several weeks promise to play a big role in shaping the future of Duke basketball.
It’s no secret that Duke has struggled to lure elite true big men to Durham recently, missing on both Mitch McGary and Tony Parker last year. And with Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly graduating after this year, the need for a high quality post player in the class of 2013 is urgent.
This weekend the Blue Devil coaching staff will have a huge opportunity to ensure that the frontcourt is not shorthanded in the coming years as they host Austin Nichols, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Memphis, for an official visit.
Nichols, the No. 11 overall player in the class according to ESPN.com, is a polished big man with good hands and solid instincts on the block.
The Tennessee product is considering Tennessee, Memphis, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Virginia in addition to Duke. Recruiting analysts and fans believe that the Volunteers and Blue Devils are the frontrunners to land Nichols.
Tennessee has a very attractive sales pitch for Nichols given that his sister goes to school there and his good friend and AAU teammate, Robert Hubbs, recently committed to the Volunteers. Duke, meanwhile, has been persistent in its pursuit of Nichols since offering him a scholarship in the spring.
Nichols might be Duke’s only chance to add a post player to its 2013 recruiting class since Marcus Lee is no longer considering the Blue Devils and the high uncertainty of Julius Randle, who Kentucky is rumored to lead for, committing to Duke.
A few weeks later, a handful of five-star 2014 players will be on campus for Countdown to Craziness—Tyus Jones(PG), Justise Winslow (SF) and Theo Pinson (SG), as well as potentially Jahlil Okafor (C). All four are consensus top-20 players in the class.
Over the past couple years, Okafor and Jones have been fairly adamant about playing together in college.
North Carolina native Theo Pinson is no stranger to the Duke campus, having visited multiple times in the past few years due to his proximity to the school.
And finally, on the weekend of October 27, Jabari Parker—the top-ranked player in the class of 2013—will make his way to Durham for his highly anticipated official visit. The do-it-all small forward has not publicly cut his list of schools yet, but Duke will receive the first official visit.
Contrary to previous reports, Parker did not visit Michigan State over the weekend per a tweet by Dave Telep of ESPN.com.
It’s still unclear as to when Parker will announce a college decision, though recent speculation hints at a spring decision.
Former 2013 Duke target, Ishmail Wainright has reportedly cut his list of schools to Baylor, Ohio State, Texas and St. Johns. Duke’s absence does not comes as a surprise at all given that Semi Ojeleye, who recently committed to the Blue Devils, has seemingly been the priority at the position since early this summer.