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Duke Basketball Recruiting: Where the 2016 Class Stands

Duke Basketball Team
Photo: Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for Duke basketball recruiting.

Between the Duke coaches evaluating players at various events, extending scholarship offers to primary targets, and coordinating potential visits and hopeful commitments, it’s obvious Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are doing everything they can to continue the momentum of the program right now.

With the developments of the summer recruiting cycle, we thought it’d be helpful to put together a recap that shows where Duke is in terms of the 2016 class.

Many experts are projecting this to potentially become the 3rd consecutive No. 1 ranked recruiting class for the Blue Devils, and it certainly has the potential to be an incredible group.

It’s also exciting as some analysts are saying the 2016 class as a whole could be one of the best in recent memory.

Here’s how things are looking for Duke with the 2016 group.


Jayson Tatum
Small Forward, 6’8”, 190 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 Small Forward, No. 5 Overall

Tatum committed to the Blue Devils during the Peach Jam a few weeks ago in an announcement that was televised on ESPNU while the Duke coaches were in attendance. With outstanding offensive skills and tremendous length, Tatum is projected to be one of the best instant impact players from the 2016 class and a likely lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He should flourish as a wing player for Coach K and be a huge part of the rotation as soon as he steps on campus.

Top Targets

Harry Giles
Power Forward, 6’10”, 230 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 Power Forward, No. 2 Overall

Giles has emerged as a superstar in the 2016 class with his play this summer. As part of his Team CP3 in the Nike Summer League and with USA Basketball in Greece, Giles has displayed the physicality and athleticism that makes him a strong contender to be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. While Kentucky, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Kansas are still in the running, many recruiting insiders believe Duke is the heavy favorite to secure a commitment from Giles, who also has a strong relationship with Jayson Tatum. A freshman duo of Tatum and Giles would immediately make Duke a favorite to reach the 2017 Final Four. Giles is expected to make a decision on where he’ll be going to college in the fall before the start of his final season of high school basketball, which he’ll be playing at Oak Hill Academy.

Frank Jackson
Point Guard, 6’3”, 180 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 4 Point Guard, No. 13 Overall

Frank Jackson is another player who’s exploded over the past few months with his player on the summer circuit, particularly at the NBPA Top 100 Camp. With the potential to play as a combo guard, Jackson could flourish in Duke’s backcourt alongside Derryck Thornton. It’s been considered a two-man race between Duke and Stanford for the past few months in Jackson’s recruitment, and the Blue Devils are considered the heavy favorite to get him. This attitude only intensified in the past few days when Jackson announced that he’d be taking an official visit to Duke at the end of August and that he would not be taking a visit to Arizona. While anything can happen in recruiting, it’d be a shock if Jackson doesn’t end up becoming a Blue Devil.

Prospects to Watch

Marques Bolden
Center, 6’10”, 235 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 Center, No. 19 Overall

Duke will host the 5-star center from DeSoto, Tex., in September when he takes an official visit to the Duke campus. The Blue Devils face tough competition in the recruitment of Bolden, who is being highly targeted by numerous Big XII schools that are closer to home, including Kansas, Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma. While he’s the No. 1 ranked center for the class of 2016, it’s a somewhat weak class for centers and it could take Bolden a couple years to develop. However, considering Duke’s potential depth in the post, especially with the possibility of Chase Jeter and Harry Giles, Bolden might be turned off by the lack of immediate playing time in Durham.

Wenyen Gabriel
Power Forward, 6’9”, 195 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 15 Power Forward, No. 55 Overall

Wenyen Gabriel has received more buzz than any other player in the 2016 class in the past few weeks. The recruiting rankings are somewhat skewed for him because he’s rising so quickly. He had the attention of nearly every top coach in the country in Las Vegas a few weeks ago at the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships, including Mike Krzyzewski. Gabriel recently picked up an offer from the Blue Devils, as well as one from Kentucky. A year ago, he was an unknown player on the recruiting trail. Now, Gabriel is being talked about for his NBA potential. This recruitment will be interesting to follow, but it’s obvious Duke wants to be in the race.

Still Considering Duke

Dennis Smith Jr.
Point Guard, 6’3”, 180 lbs.
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 Point Guard, No. 3 Overall

Make no mistake about it – Dennis Smith Jr. is a terrific player who’s going to be fantastic in college. He’s the most explosive guard in the class of 2016 and his ability to get to the rim is extremely impressive. Yet, as good as he is and even though he says he’s still considering Duke, the Blue Devils clearly made Derryck Thornton its first priority for the point guard position in the class of 2016. Once Thornton committed and joined this year’s recruiting class, Frank Jackson became the other big priority at the guard position. The Duke coaches have still been seen in attendance for Smith’s games over the summers, because you likely don’t ignore it when a player of his caliber says he’s “interested,” but, if you read between the lines, it doesn’t look like Smith is in the picture for the 2016 class for Duke.