Duke Blue Devils

Getty Images

Duke lands five-star 2020 prospect Jalen Johnson


Duke reeled in a major commitment during America’s birthday on Thursday afternoon as five-star Class of 2020 prospect Jalen Johnson pledged to the Blue Devils with an announcement on Twitter.

The top prospect in the 2020 class to verbally commit to this point, the 6-foot-8 Johnson is currently regarded as the No. 4 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2020 national rankings. A native of Glendale, Wisconsin, Johnson has been one of the top players in the country this spring playing in the Nike EYBL. Through 12 games, Johnson is putting up 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Showcasing elite vision on the wing, Johnson should be able to grab rebounds and push the ball up the floor as he’s able to initiate offense and make plays for himself or others. Johnson will have to improve his 18 percent three-point shooting, but everything else in place for him to be an elite college player from the moment he steps foot on campus.

Johnson is Duke’s second Class of 2020 commitment as he joins five-star point guard Jeremy Roach. Between Roach and Johnson, Duke has plenty of ball handlers and two very good passers already in the class as Coach K and his staff once again begin to piece together an elite group of prospects.

Now that Duke has two commitments in the class, it’ll be interesting to see where they set their sights next as they’ll continue to try to bring talented pieces together. Already with the No. 1 class in 2020, Duke continues to recruit at a higher level than any other program in college hoops.

Report: Duke’s Marques Bolden staying in draft

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
1 Comment

Marques Bolden’s career with Duke is apparently over.

The junior will remain in the NBA draft and forego his remaining eligibility, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Bolden, a former five-star recruit, battled injuries throughout much of his time in Durham. He averaged just 6.5 minutes per game in an injury-riddled freshman season and then 12.9 minutes per game as a sophomore. This past season, he played a career-high 19.9 minutes per game, but an MCL injury sidelined him near the end of the season before he returned for the NCAA tournament.

The 6-foot-11 center averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 57.9 percent from the field as he was deployed in strategic fashion as Coach K unlock the full value of his talented freshmen quartet of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones.

Given his injury history and another star-studded Duke recruiting class that features center Vernon Carey and forward Matthew Hurt, Bolden’s decision to pursue a professional career shouldn’t come as much as a surprise, nor will it likely be a major hit to Duke’s title hopes in 2020. Bolden at times showed the talent that made him such a highly-touted prospect coming out of De Soto, Texas, but the injuries and then successive monster recruiting classes made his three years with Duke underwhelming.

Memphis stays on a roll with four-star Boogie Ellis commitment

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File
1 Comment

Is anybody having a better spring than Penny Hardaway and Memphis?

Just hours after our Rob Dauster noted the absolute monster Hardaway has quickly built at his alma mater, Hardaway and Co. added yet another huge piece to the puzzle when Boogie Ellis, a former Duke commit, pledged to the Tigers.

That makes three major commitments in three days after top-50 recruit Lester Quinones and one of the top transfers on the market, Rayjon Tucker of Little Rock, said they were headed to Memphis. Which, of course, is on top of 2019’s No. 1 prospect James Wiseman, top-50 recruit DJ Jeffries and four stars Malcolm Dandridge and Damion Baugh already in the fold.

A monster, indeed.

Ellis gives the Tigers another win as a 6-foot-2, top-50 combo guard that had been committed to the Blue Devils before Tre Jones decided to return for a sophomore season and Cassius Stanley, another top 2019 recruit, committed.

The Tigers went a respectable 22-14 overall and 11-7 in the American in Hardaway’s first year, but the former NBA All-Star is delivering on his vision to return Memphis to national prominence. The general thinking when he was hired by Memphis last year was that he’d be able to put the Tigers in position to land major recruits given his status as an NBA icon and wildly successful grassroots and high school coach, but few could have foreseen he’d be this effective this quickly.

Memphis is going to be one of the most talented teams in the country in Hardaway’s second season. That’s a remarkable feat for a first-time coach, even one with the cache as Hardaway. He’s getting players to Memphis. All that’s left to do is translate that into wins. A lot of them.

Duke lands five-star 2020 point guard Jeremy Roach


Duke landed its point guard of the future on Wednesday night as five-star Class of 2020 point guard Jeremy Roach pledged to the Blue Devils.

The 6-foot-2 point guard will likely be the heir apparent to current Duke floor general Tre Jones (if Jones decides to turn pro after his sophomore season) as Roach is one of the winningest players in high school basketball.

Playing for Team Takeover in the Nike EYBL last grassroots season, Roach helped the program capture the Nike Peach Jam. Roach was also a member of USA Basketball’s U17 squad which won a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup last summer.

Although Roach doesn’t put up jaw-dropping numbers, averaging 6.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in 22 EYBL games last spring and summer, he’s the perfect fit for a potential star-laden Duke recruiting class. A great change-of-pace guard who is very effective with look-ahead passes to move the ball quickly up the floor, Roach is a naturally unselfish leader.

Team Takeover was loaded with high-major prospects and Roach was one of the key reasons the program was able to achieve such great success thanks to his willingness to share the ball. For a program that regularly recruits five-star players who want to take a lot of shots, Roach is the perfect fit to get those types of players all of the shots they desire. It also doesn’t hurt that Roach is a solid shooter who can defend multiple spots on the perimeter thanks to his solid strength and basketball IQ.

Regarded as the No. 20 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2020 rankings, Roach is the great start for Duke’s recruiting efforts in that class. Roach will have to get healthy after a torn ACL prevented him from playing during his junior season, but his commitment is an important one for Duke. The Blue Devils will likely have a lot of scholarships to fill in the 2020 class and Roach is the type of unselfish point guard that other talented players want to run with.

Five-star Boogie Ellis asking out of Duke letter of intent

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

A five-star recruit is set to be available late in this spring recruiting cycle.

Boogie Ellis, a top-40 guard from San Diego, has asked out of his National Letter of Intent with Duke, according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-2 guard signed with the Blue Devils in November after also considering San Diego State, Memphis, USC and North Carolina, the last of which he made an official visit to.

It’s a significant loss for the Blue Devils, but hardly a crippling one to their top-ranked recruiting class that includes top-10 players in Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt along with top-35 prospects Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley.

Given the strength of that recruiting class along with Tre Jones’ decision to return for a sophomore season, minutes will likely be at a premium in the Duke backcourt next season, even without Ellis, who now becomes one of the top available players in the country.

Recruitments of Zion Williamson, Marvin Bagley discussed on wiretaps as federal trial continues

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Wednesday’s proceedings in a courtroom of the Southern District of New York brought Sean Miller, Rick Pitino, LSU, Michigan State and Deandre Ayton into discussion. Thursday added Zion Williamson, USC, TCU and Marvin Bagley, among others, into focus as the second trial of the federal government’s investigation into corruption in college basketball continued

“Nike schools pay, too,” video wiretap catches former adidas and Nike employee Merl Code saying, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. “In some form or fashion, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Kentucky and all of those schools are doing something to help their kids.”

It was another embarrassing day for the sport, whose underbelly continues to exposed for what it was so long thought to have been – dirty – with each passing day.

“It’s a mess,” Code said on a wiretap, “because there’s so much money involved.”

Williamson, the presumptive No. 1 pick in June’s draft and college basketball’s biggest star after his stellar freshman season at Duke, was the topic of discussion on a wiretap between Clemson assistant Steve Smith with Christian Dawkins and Marty Blazer, both of whom have been at the center of the government’s case, and an undercover FBI agent, according to Norlander.

“Duke is gonna have their resources. UNC is UNC. Kentucky is gonna have their resources,” Dawkins said on the recording. Blazer testified he understood Dawkins’ comments to be in reference to Williamson’s family receiving money to attend those schools.

Another former Blue Devil, Bagley, also was at the center of testimony Thursday. The government showed video of a Las Vegas suite in 2017 in which assistants Tony Bland of USC, Preston Murphy of Creighton and Corey Barker of TCU were shown accepting cash. Bland discussed his efforts to bring Bagley to USC in the video, according to Norlander.

“Tony (Bland) needed money to get to Marvin (Bagley),” Blazer, a cooperating government witness, testified. “Tony was confident he had Marvin Bagley locked in at USC. When Marvin Bagley signs with USC, I need you guys on campus the moment he signs, be ready to get it to him ASAP.”

Bagley ultimately reclassified to the 2017 class and signed with Duke before going on to be the No. 2 pick in last year’s NBA draft.

While there may have been no shocking revelations in testimony Thursday, it was yet another day spent in which college basketball insiders exposed how the game outside the game is seemingly played by many. Who knows how much more we’ll learn tomorrow. Or any subsequent day.