Rivals Roundtable: Duval at Duke, Bamba predictions, more
The Rivals.com basketball trio of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Krysten Peek answer questions roundtable style surrounding recent developments in the high school hoops recruiting world.
1. What do you expect from Trevon Duval at Duke next year and is that a good fit for him?
BOSSI: The biggest issue that the Blue Devils have faced since winning the 2015 national championship is the lack of a point guard. Derryck Thornton didn't stick around long enough to develop into the role as a sophomore and they've tried point guard by committed with guys like Thornton (before he transferred), Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson. With Duval, they have a guy who is a playmaker off the dribble. My only concern would be that Duval is a bit prone to turnovers and defenders are going to back off until they respect his jump shot. But, the guy can create and he is undoubtedly a point guard with one-and-done talent.
EVANS: Duke could not have asked for a better remedy for its point guard conundrum than when it landed Trevon Duval on Monday. A super explosive lead guard who will remind some of Derrick Rose, Duval should thrive under the watch of Mike Krzyzewski. He will allow Grayson Allen and Gary Trent to get easier looks at the basket thanks to his playmaking skills, but be sure to keep a closeful eye on Duke’s pace of play. Duval is at his best in the open floor, and while the Blue Devils can be successful speeding things up, Coach K has had his best teams when they thrive in the half-court setting. One of these two things will have to change in order for Duke to cut down the nets next April.
PEEK: Duke is an excellent fit for Duval. Playing under and learning from Mike Krzyzewski will ready him for the next level, since, let's be honest, he's a one-and-done player. At the end of the day, Duval is a big-time, flashy point guard who will thrive in that Duke atmosphere playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. There will be plenty of support in the backcourt with fellow five-star Gary Trent Jr., and being able to get the ball down low to bigs Marques Bolden and Wendell Carter is right in Duval's wheelhouse.
2. Which of the current 2017 top 10 players surprises you most regarding their college choice?
BOSSI: You know what, Collin Sexton surprised me the most. Not because Alabama didn't put in the effort to land him, because Avery Johnson and his staff worked their tails off to get him. But, as basketball-driven as Sexton is I thought that a blueblood program might be able to get in there and pull him away from the Crimson Tide. To the explosive combo guard's credit, he stuck with the team that liked him before anybody else did and put in the heavy lifting early.
EVANS: There was some surprise last week when Kevin Knox committed to Kentucky, but looking back on the 2017 class Mitchell Robinson’s decision to attend Western Kentucky might be the most surprising. It's worth noting that Robinson's godfather, Shammond Williams, is on staff at WKU, and he was originally committed to Rick Stansbury when Stansbury was an assistant at Texas A&M. Even so, a mid-major school locking down an elite, five-star big man was the most surprising development of the recruiting cycle.
PEEK: When DeAndre Ayton committed to Arizona there were a lot of apprehensive fans holding back excitement since they were burned a year earlier on a top recruit electing to play overseas. I think a lot of people thought there was a chance Ayton would do something similar, along the lines of what Terrance Ferguson did a year earlier. It's been surprising to see him stick with his commitment and also be the catalyst in bringing in other top talent such as four-stars Ira Lee and Brandon Randolph.
MORE: Class of 2017 rankings
3. The lone top 15 player still uncommitted in 2017 is Mohamed Bamba. What's your prediction for him?
BOSSI: There is a lot of buzz about Texas right now and the Longhorns are certainly in a good spot. It's easy to tell him to look at all the minutes that have been left open by Jarrett Allen's departure for the NBA and to tell him those are his minutes. Shaka Smart was also able to develop a good relationship with him while coaching USA Basketball's 18U team last summer. However, I'm still hearing just enough rumblings to stick with my prediction of Kentucky and if the Wildcats do land him it would be yet another testament to what John Calipari can do in recruiting. Duke or Michigan would be a pretty big surprise to me at this point. On another note, Bamba is likely pretty amused by all of the hand-wringing over his decision and while he's not announced anything just yet I'd be willing to bet he has a lot better idea of what he wants to do than he has let on publicly.
EVANS: As we learned with Kevin Knox, we can never discount John Calipari, thus, Kentucky is definitely in the mix. Michigan, I don’t see happening as much and Duke, while it has remained in contention, I believe it sits in third place. This comes down to Kentucky and Texas and the allure of playing for at an up-and-down system, for an enormous state school and with a giant need at the center position makes Bamba at UT Longhorn at the end of the day.
PEEK: It's amazing that the No. 2 player in the class is still up for grabs and undecided. When you talk to Mo Bamba, he still doesn't seem to be in any hurry to decide. The pressure to make a decision doesn't faze him and he's not stressed about it all. I've seen the way he interacts with the Kentucky commits at events and on social media, and it's as if they're already bonding as teammates (He shares a birthday Kentucky point guard commit Quade Green). However, there's a lot of star power in that class and the allure of being the one-two punch with four-star point guard Matt Coleman at Texas will win in the end and he'll end up playing for the Longhorns.