In Midst of Recruiting Scandal, Duke Remains Supreme

There hasn’t been a more talked about off-season in college basketball than this year. By now everyone knows about the FBI investigation that flipped multiple programs upside down, and likely isn’t going anywhere for sometime. The investigation has exposed all the flaws and corruption that exist in college recruiting. Despite the negativity surrounding recruiting, one thing remains constant. Duke is number one.

Last night, RJ Barrett, ESPN’s #1 player in the class of 2018 announced his commitment to Duke over Kentucky and Oregon. Barrett solidified himself as the premiere recruit in the 2018 class with his play in the U19 FIBA games this past summer. He led Canada past Team USA, coached by John Calipari, in the semifinals on his way to a gold medal.

With Barrett’s commitment, Duke has now landed the top ranked recruit in four of the last five recruiting classes. In the those five years, Coach K has landed a total of 22 players ranked in ESPN’s Top 100. Barrett gives the Blue Devils three of the top ten next year already.

Five lottery picks in the last three years and countless McDonald’s All-Americans prove that when it comes to recruiting, it is Coach K, along with John Calipari, at the top of the list. And with players like Barrett, Marvin Bagley, Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Cam Reddish waiting for their draft nights, you can expect that lottery number to continue to rise.

A lot of people like to label Coach K a cheater. When top recruits choose Duke, critics like to make pay-for-players jokes. Whatever your personal opinion may be, facts are that coaches all over the country are getting busted for illegal recruiting. None of them have the last name Krzyzewski. The FBI investigation is expected to be around for awhile. Duke may come up, they may not. But until that day comes, you have to admire and respect Coach K’s ability to bring in the best of the best.

Canada Basketball: Trending The Right Way

Canada Basketball

Canada Basketball has a lot to look forward to. Just days ago, their U19 team took home the gold in the 2017 FIBA U19 Games in Cairo, Egypt.

The feat may not be as illustrious as an Olympic Gold Medal, but Canada’s U19 team taking home a gold in the U19 FIBA Games is another sign of moving in the right direction. Look across the NBA right now. You will see a growing list of Canadian players, both in number and prominence. The list includes the likes NBA Champions (Tristan Thompson & Cory Joseph), a #1 Overall Draft Pick (Andrew Wiggins) and numerous budding talents (Jamal Murray, Kelly Olynyk, Trey Lyles). While the list will never compare the United States, it does have a fountain of youth that will make Canada fun to watch for the next couple of years.

Waiting to join the list of Canadian born NBA Players is R.J Barrett, a 6’7 wing playing high school ball for Kevin Boyle at Monteverde Academy. Barrett is the #1 ranked player in the class of 2019, according to ESPN. Playing for a coach who has had his share of lottery picks (Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, D’Angelo Russell & Ben Simmons), Barrett appears to be next man up on this list.

“He’s not going to be one-dimensional. He can do a lot of different things.” – Kevin Boyle

He’s a versatile, lengthy athlete who can wreak havoc in transition and score in a variety of ways. He was the talk of the tournament after torching the USA for 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. As an encore, he dropped 18 points in the championship versus Italy. He was the easy choice for tournament MVP. Team USA coach John Calipari tried to throw different looks at Barrett, but the Ontario native had an answer every time. Barrett’s final stat line for the tournament: 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. It’s easy to see why he’s the number one player in the class.

While Barrett is still two years from even hitting the college ranks, several of his Canadian teammates will be making their impacts felt as early as next season. Lindell Wigginton, a former ESPN Top 50 recruit will head to Aimes and play for Steve Prohm and Iowa State. Meanwhile 6’6 forward Abu Kigab will join Oregon, a Final Four team from last season.

Highly prominent prep schools like Monteverde, Huntington Prep, Oak Hill and Findlay Prep have given Canadian players a stage on which to shine on at the high school level. Many of the names listed above have played for one of these schools on their way to the NBA, or high Division 1 schools.

Slowly but surely, the world is becoming more familiar with the talent that exists in the county sitting atop ours. With Steve Nash at the helm, and a growing group of talented youth, Canada Basketball has a lot to be excited about.