Duke Lands 2021 Standout Paolo Banchero

ShawnKrest

Duke showed that reports of its recruiting demise were exaggerated after 2021 power forward Paolo Banchero committed to the Blue Devils on Thursday afternoon. One of the few underclassmen named to the Sports Illustrated 2020 All-American team, Banchero chose Duke over Kentucky, Arizona, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Kentucky. The consensus five-star prospect is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2021 class by 247 Sports.

The recruiting win snapped a recent slump for coach Mike Krzyzewski, who saw two top targets in the class—shooting guard Max Christie and point Kennedy Chandler—go elsewhere, Christie to Michigan State and Chandler to Tennessee.

Chandler and Banchero had spoken about playing together in college, so Chandler’s decision to go to Tennessee seemed to cast doubt on Duke’s chances of landing Banchero.

Banchero averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks a game for O’Dea (Seattle), who finished 23-6. He helped lead O’Dea to the state title game, a year after winning the title as a sophomore.

Sports Illustrated All-American’s scouting report says, “In Banchero, the Blue Devils get one of the most versatile bigs in the 2021 class with a variety of skills on both ends of the floor. Banchero scores efficiently on all three levels, protects the rim with great timing as a shot blocker and plays with an intense motor. The bottom line is that he’s a nightmare of a matchup for the opposition at his size (6-foot-10, 235 pounds) and skill-set.”

Duke moves into the top five in the 2021 recruiting rankings. Banchero joins five-star A.J. Griffin, a small forward who committed last year.

Duke will look to add to its 2021 haul with shooter Patrick Baldwin Jr. and power forward Caleb Houstan. The Blue Devils are considered favorites in both players’ recruitments. Duke is also involved with guard Trevor Keels and center Charles Bediako.

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