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Duke Recruiting: Michigan Working Several Duke Targets Too

Just some mild recruiting intel

Michigan v Duke
In recent years, Duke has had a more intense rivalry with Michigan State but historically, the Duke-Michigan rivalry is just as big.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As we say from time to time, it’s good to look at what rivals are doing in recruiting because sometimes you can get some insights into Duke’s situation that you might not otherwise. So here’s a look at what Michigan is up to and how it could affect Duke’s plans.

Head coach Juwan Howard did well in his first season although two commitments bolted quite late.

Still, he showed he had some chops (more on that in a minute).

Currently for 2021, Michigan is pursuing Duke targets Jonathan Kuminga, Patrick Baldwin and Paolo Banchero.

It’s interesting to compare Howard’s first season to that of Penny Hardaway at Memphis. It’s kind of hard to remember the momentum that Hardaway established right out of the gate. People were talking about him as a threat to the recruiting hegemony Duke and Kentucky had established and indeed he had a better class, at least on paper.

However, the situation with James Wiseman blew up and the ensuing circus must have taken a toll on Memphis’ season.

One major difference between the two is this. Hardaway’s staff is primarily NBA based: Mike Miller was a long-time NBA player and Hardaway friend while Cody Toppert came over from the Phoenix Suns.

Of his assistants, only Tony Madlock has college experience.

By contrast, Howard did hire Howard Eisley, who had only coached in the NBA. However, he retained Saddi Washington, who had worked for his predecessor John Beilein, and who has a decade and a half of college experience.

More critically though, having no collegiate experience, he hired a mentor: former St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli.

Martelli was at St. Joe’s from 1985-86 to 2018-19. He was head coach from 1995-96 until he was fired.

Martelli knows the best hotel for Peach Jam. He knows where to eat in San Antonio. He knows who to call to get leads on promising recruits. He has decades of experience and connections. He even knows most of the referees and who you can and can't push around.

He’s invaluable to Howard and helped a smooth transition. He’ll help in recruiting too.