What to Make of Duke’s Monstrous 2014 Recruiting ClassPosted by Christopher Kehoe on November 22nd, 2013
Mike Krzyzewski is on top of the world. At 66 years old, most people would be retired or nearing the golden age of relaxation and 4:00 PM dinners. But not Krzyzewski; he is gaining a second wind and dominating the recruiting landscape like few senior citizens before him. On Thursday afternoon, Duke landed five-star wing prospect Justise Winslow from the Lone Star State, which by itself would be enough to build around for most programs, but Winslow instead is the third five-star recruit and fourth top-30 recruit Duke has landed in the 2014 class.
Just last Friday Duke landed the second-best point guard and fifth best prospect in the entire class in Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones. Jones is a pass-first point guard who makes everyone around him better. And it doesn’t hurt that he is best friends with and the first half of a package deal featuring center Jahlil Okafor. Okafor, who many have dubbed the best back-to-the-basket big man prospect since the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, is the top-ranked prospect in the 2014 class. Krzyzewski put it best when he said it was ‘three years of hard work’ paying off in the end with the signings of both players. The addition of 6’6” wing Winslow this week rounds out an already extremely potent recruiting class for the gold medal-winning coach. Winslow brings a physicality and athleticism that will have him poised to challenge for a starting position on the wing from day one. He has a college-ready body and is an extremely tenacious perimeter defender who will relish the easy looks provided by Jones’s penetration and double teams on Okafor.
The forgotten man of Duke’s class happens to be 6’5″ shooting guard Grayson Allen, the first 2014 prospect to commit and start the trend. Allen exploded on the national scene just this year and possesses an extremely quick first step, killer mentality, and long range on his jumper. He is already getting J.J. Redick comparisons and may be a dark horse in this class, someone that not enough people are talking about.
A backstory surrounding the recent surge in Duke’s prominence on the recruiting trail has been the emergence of assistant coach Jeff Capel as a recruiting virtuoso. Capel, who played at Duke in the mid-1990s, was previously the head coach at VCU and Oklahoma. He coached the human highlight reel otherwise known as Blake Griffin during his time in Norman, a fact he surely doesn’t hesitate to bring up when talking with impressionable recruits. Capel has been considered by some insiders to be the deciding factor in swaying all of these recent elite recruits to pledge to play in Durham. These same whispers have produced strong proponents of Capel throwing his hat into the ring as a replacement for Krzyzewski when all is said and done. Capel, who was fired from Oklahoma in 2011 for losing control of that program, would have to compete with other rumored candidates such as Brad Stevens, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, but it certainly is an interesting bit of speculation, to say the least. After all, Krzyzewski won’t be able to resist the call of Florida’s humid retirement paradise forever.