With their most recent additions of Trevon Duval, Marvin Bagley III and Cameron Reddish since mid-May, Mike Krzyzewski and his assistants at Duke have landed 14 top-five prospects during the Rivals.com era. Eight of them have picked the Blue Devils since 2013 as Duke has experienced a recruiting resurgence while fully embracing the one-and-done.
In today’s Bossi’s Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi breaks down the 10 highest ranked players to pass through Durham since the Rivals.com rankings started in 2002.
Bossi’s high school memory: What I remember most about Rivers is how many feathers were ruffled when he ended up ranked No. 1 over Anthony Davis in the final rankings. Davis has proven that he should have gotten the nod, but Rivers was one of the most lethal high school scoring machines I have ever seen and even as a teenager was one of those guys that fans seemed to love to hate.
At Duke: Rivers spent one season in Durham where he was the ACC Freshman of the Year. His most memorable moment had to have been his buzzer-beating three to cap off a comeback win at North Carolina. He and his teammates were bounced in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
In the NBA: Rivers was taken No. 10 overall by New Orleans in 2012. Playing for his father Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers, Rivers had his best season in 2016-17 averaging 12 points and nearly three assists per game.
Bossi’s high school memory: Okafor was a dominant low block player in high school and out performed classmates like Karl-Anthony Towns and Myles Turner. He had soft hands, great touch and liked to physically punish guys. Personally, he was a lesson learned in how important it is to consider the current state of the game and style of play when evaluating a prospect’s future value.
At Duke: During his lone season in Durham Okafor was ACC Player of the Year, a first team All-American and runner up to Frank Kaminsky for the Wooden Award. He also helped Duke win a National Championship.
In the NBA: Drafted No. 3 overall by Philadelphia in 2015, Okafor has shown promise while also frustrating. He’s averaged 14.7 points and six rebounds a game while missing extended time due to injuries. The game seems to be moving away from traditional low post scorers like Okafor so it will be interesting to see if he can thrive once healthy.
Bossi’s high school memory: I’ll never forget the first time I ran across Deng. It was at the 2001 Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis. During a media session, I saw a kid sitting in the media room who looked lonely so I said to myself, why not talk to him even though I’d never heard of the then rising junior. Learning about how he was born in Sudan and had lived in Egypt and London before coming to the States to play ball was eye-opening. Seeing him play was even more eye opening.
At Duke: Helped the Blue Devils to the 2004 Final Four and made the All-ACC Freshman team.
In the NBA: Drafted No. 7 overall by Phoenix and traded to Chicago in 2004. Deng has been a two-time All-Star and averaged 15 points per game over a 13-year career.
Bossi’s high school memory: To this day, I feel like Livingston is the best high school point guard that I’ve ever seen. His height, vision and ability to score while making others better were unlike any player that I have scouted since.
At Duke: Livingston elected to enter the NBA out of high school and never arrived at Duke.
In the NBA: Livingston was drafted No. 4 overall by the Clippers in 2004. A catastrophic knee injury has limited his NBA career, but he’s proven to be a valuable role player and has won two titles during his career.
Bossi’s high school memory: To this day, McRoberts played for one of the best summer teams I’ve ever seen teaming with Greg Oden, Eric Gordon and Daequan Cook in the summer of 2004. What most don’t realize is how athletic McRoberts was as a high school player and how polished his overall skill level was.
At Duke: McRoberts spent two seasons at Duke and made the ACC All-Freshman team and was second team All-ACC as a sophomore
In the NBA: McRoberts was taken No. 37 overall by Portland in the 2007 Draft. He’s spent 10 seasons in the NBA and stuck around because he’s a tough defender but has never been the athlete he was prior to back problems.
Bossi’s high school memory: Giles stands out to me as one of the hardest players to rank that I’ve come across. When healthy he was a tall, athletic and versatile player with huge upside. But, he was injured so often in high school that he lost a lot of time to development.
At Duke: Giles only played 11.5 minutes per game as a freshman and his impact was minimal as he recovered from knee injuries.
In the NBA: Taken No. 20 overall by Sacramento in the 2017 Draft.
Bossi’s high school memory: I was able to see Tatum at the very beginning of his freshman season and his size, versatility and skill blew me away. In nearly 20 years in the scouting business, he has to be among the top five kids I’ve ever seen when it comes to work ethic and commitment to getting better in the gym.
At Duke: After being slowed by injury early on, Tatum averaged almost 17 points and seven rebounds per game while earning ACC All-Freshman honors.
In the NBA: Selected No. 3 overall by Boston in the 2007 Draft.
Bossi’s high school memory: When I first saw Irving between his sophomore and junior year I couldn’t believe he didn’t have a crazy, top-five reputation and I was surprised by how few coaches were following him. To this day, he’s probably the best below-the-rim finisher I’ve ever scouted.
At Duke: Averaged 17.4 points in eight regular-season games before a toe injury sidelined him for three months. He rejoined the team for the NCAA tournament, where he averaged 17.7 points, including 28 points in an upset loss to Arizona in the regional semifinals.
In the NBA: Taken No. 1 overall by Cleveland in the 2011 Draft. NBA Rookie of the Year in 2012, NBA champion in 2016 and a four-time All-Star who was traded to Boston for Isaiah Thomas over the summer.
Bossi’s high school memory: Parker is one of the most heavily-touted kids that I have ever covered and was easily one of the nicest prospects I’ve ever dealt with. There was always a raging debate over him and Andrew Wiggins as the best wing in his class and I always appreciated his grace regardless of where we had him ranked at the time.
At Duke: ACC Freshman of the Year, All-ACC and All-American while averaging around 19 and nine during his one season in Durham.
In the NBA: Taken No. 2 overall by Milwaukee in the 2014 Draft, Parker has looked at times like a future All-Star. Unfortunately, both his rookie and third NBA seasons (where he was averaging 20 points and six rebounds) ended prematurely due to injuries.
Bossi’s high school memory: I first saw Ingram as a rail-thin freshman who stood about 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5. He didn’t yet have the off-the-dribble game he now has and he was one of the skinniest kids I’ve ever seen. But he had an effortless jumper and you could just see that he had huge potential.
At Duke: ACC Freshman of the Year and averaged just over 17 points per game for a Sweet 16 team.
In the NBA: Drafted No. 2 overall by the Lakers in 2016. Just turned 20-years-old earlier this month and was All-Rookie Second Team during his first season in the league.