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How Jack White Fits in the 2016 Recruiting Class for Duke

Duke Basketball
Photo: Rob Kinnan-USATSI

The Duke basketball recruiting class of 2016 received a new addition last week when Jack White, a forward from Australia announced he’d be joining the Blue Devils.

White is a 6’7”, 220-pound forward from the Australian Institute of Sports and his announcement on his Twitter account on Thursday night made him the fifth member of Duke’s highly touted 2016 recruiting class, joining Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier.

The Duke program is also still in contention for Marques Bolden, the No. 1 ranked center in the class of 2016.

Things progressed quickly over the past month with White, who received an offer during an on-campus visit to Durham a couple weeks ago, when he was able to see the team in action in an 80-65 win over Florida State. After receiving the offer, White selected the Blue Devils over Boise State as his college choice.

Hailing from Australia and coming on the radar somewhat late in the process, the scouting on White has been rather limited. However, he did average 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Australian National Team in the FIBA U19 World Championships last summer, where Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum helped lead Team USA to a gold medal.

The primary question most Duke fans have been asking is whether White can be expected to regularly contribute next season. Based on how the roster is setting up for Mike Krzyzewski, I’d say it’s unlikely, through no fault of Jack White.

The Blue Devils are still hoping to add frontcourt depth for next season in Marques Bolden, but that won’t be a problem on the wings and in the backcourt.

Between Matt Jones, Derryck Thornton, and Luke Kennard returning, as well as incoming 5-star freshmen Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson, competition for minutes will already be intense. There’s also the unknown factor of Grayson Allen and whether he would elect to return for his junior season or depart for this year’s NBA Draft.

In the frontcourt, Duke will likely rely on a rotation of Harry Giles, Chase Jeter, Amile Jefferson (assuming the NCAA grants him a medical redshirt), and possibly Javin DeLaurier and/or Antonio Vrankovic. Sean Obi remains a mystery.

You may not see White get much action for the Blue Devils next season, but that’s not a problem.

While the 2016 Duke recruiting class is loaded with potential stars and NBA talent, it’s lacking in long-term depth.

You certainly don’t pass on guys like Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson, but a program also needs to regularly bring in players who are more likely to progress along a four-year track and provide veteran leadership.

Javin DeLaurier and Jack White both fit in that category.

The potential issue, as we’ve seen in the past with players like Semi Ojeleye, Michael Gbinije, and Alex Murphy, is whether or not they’ll be willing to wait their turn. That’s always the risk with any long-term recruit coming into a blue blood program.

The addition of Jack White to the Duke basketball program also presents an interesting new opportunity for Coach K and his staff. There’s been something of an Australian basketball pipeline developing over the past few years as the country continues to produce NBA-caliber talent. Between Patty Mills, Dante Exum, and now Ben Simmons, there are potential impact players out there for staffs that can go find them.

We saw it this past summer when John Calipari and Kentucky landed Isaac Humphries.

It’s similar to how the game has grown in Canada over the past two decades and now more elite recruits are emerging from that country.

If White is a player who helps Duke establish recruiting connection in Australia, that could be a relationship that helps the Blue Devils even more in the future.

Lastly, Duke’s cool factor now has to be off the charts after landing the lead singer from The White Stripes. I hope he sings the national anthem for all of Duke’s home games next season.

What are your thoughts on Jack White and the 2016 recruiting class? Let me know on Twitter at @davidmaldridge.

2 comments

  1. I honestly know nothing about White or DeLaurier. What I do know is K has his hands full with the wings and guards. This season isn’t over but with talent coming in next season, if Grayson comes back, I see something having to give with minutes. As we all know, his rotation pattern usually is around 7 guys, and on paper for next season with Grayson back he will have 2 point guards, and 4 talented guys under 6-7. I’m not sure if Allen is ready for NBA, but it doesn’t matter what I think. The selfish part of me wants him to stay because of his ability and hustle. But for now I’ll enjoy what is on floor this year and hope they can make a run thru both tourneys.

  2. I don’t know how the scholarship situation will play out–J. White was the last available scholarship for the 2016 class but I guess the departure of Ingram, Alan or both frees up 1 or 2.  Bolden has mentioned having an immediate impact for Duke as a plus…  he would certainly be an impact player for us but it looks like the starters would be Jefferson and Giles leaving Bolden on the bench during the opening whistle and that may be enough for him to head off to Kentucky. On the the other hand, him coming to Duke could mean a transfer for a player like Jeter if he’s the fourth post player on the depth chart–I like him, Thornton, Jones and the like as long-term contributors and leadership.

    Personally, I’d prefer to have Jefferson back over Bolden and really like the idea of him and Giles as a very quick defensive front court.  I’d love to see Allen back next year but it could hurt his draft stock since this year is a weak class and next year is poised to have more competition.  The reason most players come back is to improve their skill set, win a championship or they just really love the program and relationships…  the last reason is the only one I see as hope–he’s can’t make any sizable improvements in shooting or driving because he’s already so good, his ball handling is far better this year than last and he’s already played a pivotal role in hanging the 2015 banner.   I think a summer in the weight room will have Jeter ready to produce well for the Devils in his sophomore season just as added size and strength helped R. Kelly after his freshman campaign.

    Regardless of what Allen does, I really like the make-up of that team but still wonder what that starting line-up will look like.   My guess:

    Jefferson
    Giles
    Tatum
    Thornton
    Kennard/Jones–Offense/Defense–both get starter minutes

    Jackson
    Jeter
    nobody else with significant minutes

    It would be of little surprise if Jones gets the nod, especially if he’s hitting his shots and, to his credit, he doesn’t get beat off the dribble like Luke…  but Kennard would look great spotting up while Tatum and Giles are occupying defenders–and that works both ways as he would help create space for them to work.  Jackson could very well be a better guard than Thornton but he might not be a better PG and that’s why I have him off the bench but he could very well play his way to becoming a starter.