After missing on Swider, where do Duke, others turn?
After navigating the recruiting process in a fluid fashion, Cole Swider, a top-75 forward, committed to Villanova on Friday. Originally down to a final 12, and then to a group of four, Swider’s commitment gives the Wildcats a 6-foot-8 forward that can play in a variety of lineups thanks to his size, toughness and shot-making abilities.
A great start for Villanova in the 2018 class only means that Duke, Syracuse and Xavier must get back to the drawing boards as fast as possible.
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The Blue Devils have been able to get involved late in the process with some of the very best thanks to their pedigree and the platform that they can provide. Last fall they did it with Alex O’Connell but this time around, things didn’t work out quite as well as the Blue Devils came up empty handed. Where does Duke look next?
The commitment of Swider would have been a boost to Duke’s sails for 2018 but missing on him is not a death blow. Their top priority is Cam Reddish, a five-star swingman that can play in a variety of lineups, as they are joined by Kentucky as an early favorite for him. Outside of Reddish, Duke is squarely in the mix for second ranked forward Zion Williamson and while he is less of a shooter than Swider, he is a much better athlete and more productive. Duke also covets top ranked senior Marvin Bagley III and has offers out to Jairus Hamilton and Emmitt Williams, though they are more likely to land the former rather than the latter two.
Things heated up pretty quickly for Syracuse and after offering Swider back in February, the Orange made it into his top-12 before making his final list of four. However, there is no prize for finishing second and where they look next is vital. They do enroll combo forwards Oshae Brissett and Marek Dolezaj, but finding a versatile forward is a need for Syracuse this fall.
Lou King, while already a priority of Syracuse’s despite his shooting struggles, could receive even more attention this summer. The Orange have also gained solid footing with former Ohio State commit Darius Bazley, a 6-foot-8 prospect who visited Syracuse on Friday. The recent hiring of Allen Griffin, who spent the past few years at Dayton, has helped in their pursuit.
King and Bazley will remain their top priorities as they will continue to monitor Khalid Moore, Jeenathan Williams and Simi Shittu, the latter being a five-star forward that plays for the same travel program as former Orange star Tyler Ennis.
Xavier had shown the most attention and for the longest period of time, but even that wasn’t enough to gain the commitment of Swider. Heading back to the drawing board, Xavier must replace Trevon Bluiett, the potential Big East Player of the Year, along with shot-making wing JP Macura.
Xavier will enroll two of the better shooters from the 2017 class this fall in Jared Ridder and Elias Harden, but finding a good sized wing-forward that can make shots and immediately leave a mark on the program is a must. They have invested a lot of time with Isaiah Mucius, a top-75 wing that Wake Forest, Temple and UConn remain involved with. If not Mucius, the Musketeers already sit in a great spot for Darius Bazley, a four-star forward, and Jerome Hunter, another four-star prospect that recently cut his list to a final five. While missing out on Swider is difficult, it is hard to see Xavier strike out on any of their other three four-star targets this fall.