January 15, 2016 Louisville, Ky By: STEPHEN K. PATRICK
Duke is coming off a national championship season in which four freshmen combined to score 60 of the team’s 68 points in the title game. After winning the national championship the Duke Blue Devils have shown no signs of slowing down. After a star-studded 2014 class that gave the NBA Tyus Jones, Jahil Okafor and Justice Winslow, Duke followed that up with a second rated recruiting class entering the 2015-2016 season. In the world of college basketball the season never stops and Duke is set to bring in yet another top 5 recruiting class. Coach K and the Blue Devils have hit big in 2016. Three of the top 10 prospects have committed to Duke.
The top prize in the class is power forward Harry Giles considered to be the number 1 or 2 player in the country. Giles won three gold medals with USA Basketball in Uruguay, Dubai and Greece. He also has a future hall of famer in his corner as Chris Paul; the Clippers star sponsors the Nike grassroots team Giles played for. Physically Giles has the tools of a NBA player. He stands 6’10, with a 7’3 wingspan. He has a 230-pound frame that he’ll add weight to. He’s strong enough to anchor a team’s defense and control the glass. He’s an athletically freak who’s capable of running the floor like a guard. He also can fly out of the gym to make a play above the rim.
Joining Giles is Jayson Tatum. Tatum’s game is well-rounded, with a skill set that’s beyond his years. Tatum’s secondary playmaking potential out of a 6’8 wing is going to make Coach K a very happy man come next fall. He’s mastered reading defenses and has demonstrated a willingness to make the easy pass rather than forcing his own offense.
The lead man at point guard will be Frank Jackson. Jackson is an essential piece to the Duke 2016 class. Jackson gives Duke a scoring guard who can play off his teammates by playing between the two guard positions while adding outside shooting. Jackson is excellent with the ball in his hands, using his first step and tight handles to either get to the rim or pull-up with his jump shot. He’s a master at creating space off the bounce and should be a welcome release valve for the offense when things get bottled up inside.
Coach Cal at UK was the first coach to start recruiting the super classes and the one and done players. When Coach Cal started this it was huge backlash from traditional college basketball fans. With Duke people praise Coach K for his efforts. In today’s climate Coach K has adapted to the game and won a national championship. With the 2016 class he may be on his way to cutting down the nets once more.