SI All-American Paolo Banchero Commits to Duke

Jason Jordan

So much for 2021’s Kennedy Chandler-Paolo Banchero blockbuster package deal.

For months, both Banchero and Chandler, two of the top 10 players in the 2021 class, have told Sports Illustrated that they’ve been in “serious talks” about linking up in college.

RELATED: Kennedy Chandler commits to Tennessee

But be that as it may, a week ago, Chandler, a point guard at Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.), announced his commitment to Tennessee, and on Thursday, Banchero committed to Duke.

Banchero, a versatile forward out of O’Dea (Seattle), picked the Blue Devils over Kentucky, Washington, Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga.

Last season, Banchero was named to the inaugural SI All-American team after following up a state title run as a sophomore with summer dominance that earned him Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Underclassmen of the Year honors and an appearance in the state title game as a junior.

RELATED: The Paolo Banchero Blog

Banchero averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks a game for the Fighting Irish who finished 23-6.

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.

His commitment comes as a surprise to some degree after he wrote in his latest Sports Illustrated blog that he wanted to take his time to think about the process.

With Banchero’s commitment, Duke moves into the top five of the SI All-American recruiting rankings for 2021. He joins Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) forward A.J. Griffin to form Duke’s 2021 haul to this point. 

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Edwin Weathersby II
Edwin Weathersby II

Paolo was an dynamic QB prospect in football, before turning to basketball full-time. He piloted an elite Seattle-based all-star team I oversaw that had several other high-end 2021 football prospects as an 8th grader. Congrats and big-get for Duke.


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