Last week, Duke basketball dded Semi Ojeleye, the No. 38 recruit in the nation according to ESPN.com, to its 2013 recruiting class. And last week, the Blue Devil coaching staff made a number of visits to high-profile recruits. The Chronicle’s recruiting analyst Brady Buck and sports editor Andrew Beaton sat down to discuss where the team stands looking forward. With the top two players in the recruiting class, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle still on the board, Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski could still make big moves with his roster looking forward. Thanks to those who submitted questions to us on twitter @dukebasketball with #AskChron that we address in the chat.
Andrew Beaton: So Brady, were you surprised at all by Semi Ojeleye’s commitment to Duke? And what about the timing?
Semi Ojeleye committed to Mike Krzyzewsi and Duke basketball after an in-home visit Sept. 10.
Brady Buck: I was not surprised at all by the commitment, however, I was not expecting him to give his pledge quite so early. From the onset of this recruitment in the spring, it just always seemed like Ojeleye and Duke were a perfect fit.
AB: And, as @AAbrams asked us on Twitter yesterday, “#AskChron how are we going to steal #1 recruit Jabari Parker”—do you think the addition of another wing player like Ojeleye hurts Duke’s chances at the gem of the 2013 class?
BB: Parker is an elite player and playing time won’t be an issue anywhere he goes. Keep in mind that Krzyzewski utilized a wing-oriented lineup with Team USA this summer, which is what he is likely using as a sales pitch to Parker. Still though, landing Parker will be difficult given that Michigan State seems to be very strong with him.
In reality though, Julius Randle is more of a need than Parker. Don’t you think, Andrew?
AB: I think given Duke’s roster, Randle is a more critical prospect—even without Parker, Duke has no shortage of wing players. Between Rasheed Sulaimon and Alex Murphy and both Rodney Hood and Matt Jones joining the fold next year, Duke should have no problem on the wing. But once Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly graduate this year, Duke will start to look awfully thin up front with just Marshall Plumlee, Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson.
Also on Twitter, another frontcourt prospect was brought up—Austin Nichols, a 6-foot-8 powerforward and the No. 10 recruit in the nation according to ESPN. @JeremyArnone asked us, “What’s Nichols’ timeframe and where do we stand?”
BB: Absolutely. I see Nichols signing in the early signing period, November. He is set to officially visit Duke the weekend of October 6, which will be his first trip to Durham. With Marcus Lee off the radar, I think Nichols is a must get for Duke given the emptying frontcourt as you alluded to. It sounds like the Blue Devils are in a fist fight with Tennessee to secure Nichols’ commitment.
AB: Is it a tough balance for these programs, in terms of wanting to secure prospects but also wanting to have a shot at the higher end prospects? I think you see that dilemma with both Ojeleye-Parker and potentially Nichols-Randle.
BB: To some degree yes. What complicates the matter further is the fact that Randle and Parker likely won’t make a decision until April. So the Duke coaching staff cannot hold out entirely for Parker and Randle. At the end of the day, Parker and Randle are mutually exclusive in my opinion. And Duke should have room to take Nichols, as well as one of Parker/Randle to round out its 2013 class.
AB: And we may know a lot more about where some of these prospects stand in the coming weeks after a number are scheduled to visit in the coming weeks, including ones beyond the class of 2013.
BB: That’s right. Countdown to Craziness promises to be one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year with Tyus Jones, the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2014, visiting. Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Theo Pinson may also join Jones that weekend in Durham. That’s an impressive guest list.
AB: Are any of those players expected to make commitments before their senior years?
BB: Maybe Pinson, just because he is a North Carolina kid who already has a strong relationship with the Duke and UNC staffs. He’ll likely go to one of those two. Even though none of them are expected to commit in the near future, Duke has a golden opportunity to lay some serious groundwork with four of the best players in the class of 2014 during Countdown to Craziness.