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Top Priorities for the 2017 Duke Basketball Recruiting Class

Luke Kennard Duke Basketball
Photo: Winslow Townson-USATSI

The attention for Duke basketball recruiting has shifted primarily to next year’s 2017 class. The Duke coaches have been hard at work this summer tracking many of the program’s top targets at various AAU and USA Basketball events, and we have a rather clear picture of who the Blue Devils are hoping to land next season.

With this coming season’s team projected to lose at least 5 players (Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Grayson Allen, Harry Giles & Jayson Tatum) and possibly more, Duke will likely need another big class in 2017 to continue to produce at a high level.

Fortunately, it looks like Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Capel, and the rest of the Duke staff have the program well positioned for many of the top rising seniors in high school basketball.

At this point, here are the top priorities for the Blue Devils in the 2017 class.

Wendell Carter
6’10”, 258 lbs. – Power Forward
Atlanta, GA
247Sports Composite: No. 3 Power Forward, No. 4 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Harvard, Kentucky, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina

Carter is arguably the best low-post player in the 2017 class and has a chance to be a dominant frontcourt presence at the college level. He’s worked to improve the range on his jumpshot to become more versatile and is also extremely active on the glass.

Mohamed Bamba
6’11”, 210 lbs. – Power Forward
New York, NY
247Sports Composite: No. 2 Power Forward, No. 3 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Kentucky, Harvard, Indiana, Villanova, Syracuse

With a 7’9” wingspan and raw athleticism, Bamba is viewed as a potential defensive superstar. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports recently compared him to Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. The idea of Duke potentially pairing Wendell Carter’s offensive skills with Bamba’s defensive ability would create a devastating frontcourt for the Blue Devils.

Kevin Knox
6’8”, 195 lbs. – Small Forward
Tampa, FL
247Sports Composite: No. 2 Small Forward, No. 6 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Florida State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Miami

Kevin Knox is the versatile, athletic wing player who has become increasingly valuable with how basketball has evolved over the past few years. He’s worked hard to become a more consistent perimeter shooter and has potential to guard multiple positions, where he can become even more effective as he continues to add strength. Knox is a dynamic player capable of scoring at all three levels.

Gary Trent Jr.
6’5”, 190 lbs. – Shooting Guard
St. Paul, MN
247Sports Composite: No. 2 Shooting Guard, No. 11 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Kentucky, Michigan State, UCLA

Trent comes with an NBA pedigree after his father, Gary Trent Sr., played 9 years in the league. Trent Jr. is viewed as one of the best scorers in the class of 2017 and has solid 3-point range and an impressive mid-range game. He’s talked about hoping to pair up with fellow Duke target Wendell Carter in college and both players are considered to be strongly favoring the Blue Devils.

Quade Green
6’1”, 172 lbs. – Point Guard
Philadelphia, PA
247Sports Composite: No.4 Point Guard, No. 26 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville, Xavier

Quade Green caught Duke’s attention this summer with his breakout play on the Nike EYBL, which he led in assists and steals on a loaded PSA Cardinals team, where he was teammates with Mohamed Bamba. Green is a pure floor general who could be a nice fit alongside Frank Jackson, who’s projected to likely be at Duke for at least two years.

The five players listed above are the top priorities for the Blue Devils in the class of 2017, but the following are some additional names to watch.

Deng Gak
6’11”, 210 lbs. – Power Forward
Blairstown, NJ
247Sports Composite: No. 7 Center, No. 77 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Miami, Florida, Indiana, Kansas

Deng Gak plays at Blair Academy in New Jersey, the same school that produced Duke’s Luol Deng. He’d be more of a long-term, possibly 4-year project for the Blue Devils, and it could be that a crowded frontcourt sways Gak to pursue other options that could result in a bigger role earlier in his college career.

Jermaine Samuels
6’5”, 205 lbs. – Small Forward
Weston, MA
247Sports Composite: No. 10 Small Forward, No. 44 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: UConn, Indiana, Xavier, Villanova, Kansas

Jermaine Samuels is another player who made his way onto Duke’s radar this summer with his strong play at the Peach Jam and in Las Vegas. He’s a consistent guy who plays with lots of energy and tries to model his game after Paul George. After missing last summer’s circuit with a knee injury, Samuels has earned a great deal of recent attention from many of the top programs.

Alex O’Connell
6’5”, 170 lbs. – Shooting Guard
Alpharetta, GA
247Sports Composite: No. 17 Shooting Guard, No. 68 Overall
Other Schools Being Considered: Louisville, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Xavier

Alex O’Connell has a unique connection to Duke basketball in that his father played for the Blue Devils in the 1970s. Similar to the situation with Deng Gak, the challenge with O’Connell could be convincing him that there’s an eventual spot in the rotation at Duke compared to going to a different school where there’s a clearer path to playing time.

Which players do you think Duke gets in the 2017 class? Let us know on Twitter at @DukeReport.