Our guess is a lot of people, and this may be especially true in Chapel Hill and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, assumed that with the news that Mike Krzyzewski would be stepping down after this season, that Duke would not be as formidable, first on the recruiting trail and later on the court.
We’ll have to wait to see how things turn out on the court - from everything we hear, Jon Scheyer has a brilliant basketball mind - but as far as the recruiting trail goes, he’s already a smash hit.
Scheyer has commitments from Kyle Filipowski, Dariq Whitehead, Jaden Schutt and most recently immensely promising big man, 7-1 Dereck Lively (he also won a 2023 commitment from point guard Caleb Foster).
Lively is not like anyone Duke has ever seen. When you look at the Duke’s best big men - well, let’s list them:
- Mike Gminski
- Christian Laettner
- Elton Brand
- Carlos Boozer
- Brian Zoubek*
- Mason Plumlee
- Marvin Bagley
- Mark Williams**
*Zoubek was only great for a short period of time and with significant limitations. That said, he was truly great for the last part of his senior year.
**We only have last season to go on with Williams, but we think he’s going to be great (if we did this list next year we’d probably list Paolo Banchero).
Mark Williams has similar length and Bagley had a high level of athleticism, but no one has had the full package like Lively appears to have. Again, Banchero may too.
But we digress.
As Gary Parrish points out here, Scheyer is setting up for success. And while no one on the staff has said this publicly, we think two recruits now have said that Mike Krzyzewski told them that he’ll still be around to help and perhaps to make a longer transition than publicly realized.
We’re not suggesting that he’s going to try to be the power behind the throne. He’s smarter than that.
But we do think, based on what Lively said, that he’s going to be available for some time in whatever capacity Scheyer wants. It’ll be a more relaxed role but one he will probably enjoy.