So far in my posts, I’ve covered my top five recruits of 2016, but now I’ll move on to finishing out the Duke recruiting class (Despite my fundamental dislike for Duke and their perennial dominance, I have to respect it, and the brilliant recruiting job Mike Krzyzewski does, especially this year). Per usual, Duke’s full 2016 team is looking scary good–at least on paper. Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum are two forwards who both have a legitimate chance of being the No. 1 Draft Pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Coach K rounded out this year’s class with three more top-40 recruits, two of which are consensus top-15, in point guard Frank Jackson, center Marques Bolden, and power forward Javin DeLaurier. The question is–with all this young prep star talent, can they be unselfish and polished enough to win a championship at the collegiate level? I think they can at least get close, but only time will tell.
Frank Jackson — PG 6’3”, 208 lbs
The explosive Jackson is ranked No. 5 on 247Sports and No. 12 on Rivals. He’s got stellar leaping ability; most of his highlights center around high-flying and athletic trick dunks. Jackson also showcases the some good range and has a nice stroke. At 6-foot-3 and 208, he’s already filled out nicely, but doesn’t necessarily have elite size that would translate easily to the professional level. Jackson, like many of the prospects Duke nabbed from this class, is more of a scorer than passer. He’ll need to improve his vision and learn to use the weapons he has around him in Giles, Tatum, Bolden, and junior guard Grayson Allen in order to really show how much upside he has. He’ll have an immediate starting spot, along with the chance to make an immediate impact, but there’s no telling what offensive option he will become with all the scorers on this team surrounding him.
You can see Jackson’s above-the-rim play here:
Marques Bolden — C 6’11”, 250 lbs
Bolden may only be a quarter-inch taller than his teammate Giles, but he’s got over 25 pounds of more muscle on him, making him the more natural choice for center. While it seems likely he’d earn the starting spot over Chase Jeter, Coach K hasn’t really said what he’ll do here. He’s already projected to be the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft due to his physical tools; the 6-foot-11 Bolden has a wingspan of 7-foot-6. Part of his advantage seems to be that he’s bigger and stronger than everyone on the court–and even though this won’t necessarily be the case in college, he’s big enough to out-muscle many collegiate big men. He’s shown scouts that he has pretty good mobility for his size, however, physicality isn’t everything. Bolden will need to develop into a serious defensive weapon if he wants to be able to play successfully at the next level. As seen on his mixtape, he’s best when he can be a catch-and-shoot player. If he develops some serious footwork skills and handles down low, Bolden could become one of the most desired professional prospects to come out of next year’s draft. Similarly to all of the other Blue Devils, it has yet to be seen how Bolden will work with his new teammates, all of whom are used to being huge stars wherever they play.
Check out Bolden’s upside on his BallisLife.com mixtape here:
Javin DeLaurier — PF 6’9”, 215 lbs
DeLaurier, the only four-star recruit in this high-powered recruiting class, could be the dark horse that surprises everyone in later years–however not this season. The power forward is smaller and more offensively limited than Harry Giles, but he has potential as a defender, and is probably the best team-player to come out of this recruiting class–Duke may need him to help glue the team together on defense as the third man off of the bench. He’s ranked No. 39 nationally on both 247Sports and Rivals. DeLaurier isn’t likely to start this season despite this high ranking, nor to leave the team after one year unlike the rest of Duke’s recruits. It’s unclear how much Coach K will use him in the first year due to the return of Amile Jefferson, who was granted a medical hardship waiver and will play one more year. Scouts on DraftExpress have called DeLaurier a power forward with the skill set of a center, so it’s possible that he could get more time backing up Marques Bolden and Chase Jeter than Harry Giles and Amile Jefferson. DeLaurier will add needed depth to the Duke frontcourt, which will become especially handy if Giles health fails him during his freshman campaign.
Check out DeLaurier’s potential as Duke’s eighth man this season:
Others currently entering Duke’s active roster this season:
Jack White — a top-5 forward from Australia, and three-star recruit.
Justin Robinson — redshirted last season, son of NBA legend David Robinson. Likely reserve forward–three-star recruit in 2015 class.