On Sunday evening, high school dunking phenom Zion Williamson signed with Duke University. The decision came as a bit of a shock to the social media world. Williamson, a South Carolina native, was said to be deciding between Clemson and the University of South Carolina. Instead, Williamson will be added to a class that includes R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish. In essence, Duke will be bringing in the three best high school players in the country.
Duke basketball is no stranger to great recruiting classes. In each of the last four seasons, Duke has produced a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft. Last year, Coach K inked a group that included four top-10 prospects according to ESPN’s top 100 (including the potential future No. 1 pick, Marvin Bagley III). However, even the Blue Devils haven’t seen a class quite like this.
Williamson, Barrett, and Reddish are poised to completely alter the college basketball landscape. Never before has a team had commitments from each of the top three ESPN 100 recruits. It’s almost certain that they will enter the year as heavy favorites, and rightfully so.
At this point, followers of basketball in any capacity have seen a Williamson highlight reel. He’s a dunking savant -- equipped with a powerful frame and an explosive lower body. The 6’6” power forward can lead a break with his handle, and finish the possession with a thunderous slam. Think a mix between a young Larry Johnson and a more compact Shawn Kemp. The jump shot is still a work-in-progress, but Williamson’s athleticism is unparalleled.
Some may remember Barrett for the performance he had as a member of the Canadian National team in the under-19 FIBA World Cup. The Montverde product led Canada to the Gold Medal, and dropped 38 points in a game against the United States along the way. He’s a crafty lefty with the ability to play either guard spot. During his run in the World Cup, Barrett demonstrated competitive fire that can’t be taught. He plays with great pace and has natural instincts as a scorer.
Reddish is the prototypical wing for today’s game. He’s long (6’8”), athletic, and does a bit of everything on the floor. Coach K will likely lean on him for tough defensive match-ups because of the way he competes on that end. Offensively, Reddish can play a little point forward. He also shoots with range. His versatility and unselfishness is reminiscent of former Blue Devil Brandon Ingram.
Lost in all of the talk about Williamson, Barrett, and Reddish is their likely starting point guard, Tre Jones. Jones is also a top-10 recruit, and might be even better than his NBA brother -- Tyus -- who won MOP during Duke’s National title run in 2015.
Together, the four future Blue Devils form a potent group that is ready to take college basketball by storm. Coach K seems to outdo himself every year, and one day we could look back at this class as one of the greatest achievements of his entire coaching career.
Sources: Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports, ESPN 100