After a season filled with frustration and drama, the Duke Blue Devils are again the preseason number one team in the country, despite losing four of their top five scorers (three to the NBA draft, one to graduation).
How’d they do it? With one of the best recruiting classes in the country, Mike Krzyzewski has fully embraced one-and-done recruits. Coach K heads into this season with four of the top prospects in the land, all five-star recruits, two big men, a pure scorer, and a true point guard.
Marvin Bagley III (6’11”, 234 lb)
One of the top-ranked freshmen in the country, Bagley is so good he was offered his first college scholarship three days after finishing seventh grade when he was just 14. In fact, he’s so good that he’s got Duke legend Danny Ferry’s blessing to wear #35. His commitment to Duke is what catapulted them to the top of the rankings.
Wendell Carter Jr. (6’10”, 259 lb)
Carter will no doubt give Coach K a headache or two. He sported purple hair during his senior season at Pace Academy in Georgia, and just the other day in the wake of a 116-53 blowout of Bowie State, Carter declared that Duke “should be undefeated this year.” Not lacking for confidence, this one.
Trevon Duval (6’3”, 186 lb)
Speaking of headaches, Duval has already garnered himself a one-game suspension for an undisclosed “violation of team standards” – allegedly tardiness and missed classes. It can’t have been that big a deal, as it’s for just the final exhibition game of the preseason. Still, an inauspicious start for the Blue Devils’ new point guard, he says he was breaking the ankles of 4-year-olds when he himself was just 2.
Gary Trent Jr. (6’6″, 209)
If the name is familiar, it’s because his dad was a first-round pick who played nine seasons in the NBA. The younger Trent may be even better. Junior averaged 31.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists at Prolific Prep in California as a senior, and now finds himself one of 20 on the watch list for the 2018 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, given out by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Watch Duke open their season against Elon at 7pm ET Friday, and then play Utah Valley on Saturday at 7pm ET on ACC Network by subscribing to Sling Orange + Sports Extra.
Find the rest of Sling’s college hoops slate here.