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NCAA Early Signing Period: Breaking Down Duke’s No. 1 Class

The Blue Devils have three prospects that are consensus top 10 players in the senior class.

Five months after Duke announced that its Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski would retire following the 2021-22 season, his 41st, the picture of post-K life, from a talent standpoint, is shaping up to remain on par.

Jon Scheyer, Krzyzewski’s successor, and his two-man crew of Nolan Smith and Chris Carrawell dominated the recruiting landscape this summer, popping up at every event, practice, in-home and showcase with a clear message that resonated with their targets: We’re not going anywhere.

“When I think of Duke, I think of Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) for sure, but I also think of Coach (Jon) Scheyer,” Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) center Dereck Lively, who committed to Duke in September, told SI this spring. “Everyone knows that. Sadly, I won’t be able to be a part of Coach K’s legacy but playing under Jon Scheyer is still a huge privilege.”

Three of Duke’s four committed prospects are consensus top 10 players in the class and the Blue Devils remain in strong position for other key prospects.

Landing Lively elevated Duke’s class from strong to firmly entrenched in the No. 1 spot.

Dereck Lively managed to dominate despite playing alongside another elite big all summer.

Dereck Lively managed to dominate despite playing alongside another elite big all summer.

Lively’s presence on both ends of the floor is a gamechanger for Scheyer, who will be able to explore multiple lineups and looks.

At 7’0”, Lively is a human shot eraser/changer on the defensive end. This summer he led the prestigious Nike EYBL in blocks, swatting away five a game. Offensively, he’s wildly versatile with the ability to step out and efficiently knocking down perimeter shots while managing his customary paint dominance.

Montverde (Fla.) Academy shooting guard Dariq Whitehead is an electric athlete who can score at all three levels but is at his best when he’s attacking the rim with his typical ferocious vigor. Wilbraham (Mass.) and Monson Academy center Kyle Filipowski is a versatile big with an unrelenting motor, an exceptional skill set for his size (6’11”) and the ability to knock down perimeter shots and Yorkville (Ill.) Christian shooting guard Jaden Schutt is, arguably the best shooter in the class.

Can anyone dethrone Scheyer’s 2022 haul at the top?

Kentucky had a strong shot after Richardson (Texas) combo guard Cason Wallace committed to the Wildcats on Sunday, but on Tuesday Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.) Shaedon Sharpe told Sports Illustrated that he would enroll at Kentucky early, which, in essence, ended up being a swap for John Calipari.

Arkansas has a deep and diversely talented class that includes North Little Rock (Ark.) shooting guard Nick Smith, and Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman remains in serious contention to land a couple of key prospects in the class. Alabama coach Nate Oats made strong push for the top with an impressive five-man class. 

Still, as it stands, teams have ground to make up to unseat the Blue Devils at the top.

It certainly doesn't help their cause that Duke remains in strong contention for key prospects like Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.) wing Mark Mitchell.

Also, last week Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) point guard Caleb Foster, one of the top floor generals in the 2023 class, left the door open for a potential reclassification to 2022.

If Scheyer manages to drop another domino, it would likely propel the class to an untouchable status.