UNC and Duke pile up basketball recruits for 2020-2021 season

Ryan Silver, Sports Copy Editor

The University of North Carolina and Duke University have been known for their continued success in basketball. This is due to both having Hall of Fame coaches (Dean Smith and Roy Williams for UNC, Mike Krzyzewski for Duke) who have established the elite standard. The UNC-Duke rivalry, also known as the “Tobacco Road Rivalry,” is one of the most intense rivalries in all of college sports. Since 2000, the schools have combined for 10 Final Four appearances and six NCAA Championship.
“I try to see each new season as a new challenge because I have a new team to work with, new opponents to encounter, and often new ideas and theories to try,” said Krzyzewski via Bleacher Report.
Williams and Krzyzewski have traditionally approached recruiting in two separate ways. Krzyzewski typically goes after the recruits at the top of the class, and then most depart for the NBA after one season. Williams recruits the lower end of the five-star recruits and four-star recruits, and develops them over their four years at UNC. Recently, Williams has changed his strategy and has gained top tier recruits.
UNC only had one ESPN 100 recruit in 2017, with five-star Jalek Felton. Felton eventually withdrew from the school in March of his freshman year. So far, UNC has already piled up three top 25 recruits according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings. Five-stars Walker Kessler, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Caleb Love could possibly be joined by other top recruits in the 2020 class. ESPN top 10 recruits Cade Cunningham, Ziaire Williams, and Greg Brown are also strongly considering choosing UNC. In addition, four-star R.J. Davis is committed to play for Williams.
Duke’s basketball program is known as the home for “one-and-dones.” These are players who play only one year of college basketball before departing for the NBA draft. Duke has had a player drafted in the first round of the draft in every year since 2008, and one drafted in the top 10 in each year since 2013. The most recent top pick from Duke was Zion Williamson, who received numerous comparisons to superstar LeBron James. So far, Krzyzewski has already picked up five ESPN top 50 commitments, four of them being rated five-star.
“I definitely think Duke’s class with Zion [Williamson], R.J. [Barrett], and Cam Reddish was one of the best classes of all time, but Cole Anthony could have a really big impact on UNC next season. It’s going to be fun to watch,” said Sam Bost, junior.
Duke’s incoming class provides talent all over the court, with players from four out of the five positions. Point guard Jeremy Roach, shooting guard D.J. Steward, small forward Jalen Johnson and power forwards Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman III will be the next edition of Krzyzewski’s elite prospects. This will provide a good replenishment of talent after the 2019-20 season, where at least five players are expected to depart. This kind of talent reload is nothing that Krzyzewski isn’t used to, but has proven trouble for Williams and UNC.
“The three national championships jump out at you. But just the relationships I have with the players, that will last a lifetime, too,” said Williams via 247sports.com.