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Can Duke And Kentucky Keep It Going?

Jon vs. John should be entertaining

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 06 State Farm Champions Classic - Duke v Kentucky
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 06: Duke Blue Devils assistant coach Jon Scheyer talks with Duke Blue Devils assistant coach Nolan Smith in action during a Champions Classic game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 6, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianpolis, Indiana.
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jon Scheyer’s early and stunning recruit success, along with Kentucky’s John Calipari’s recruiting resurgence, has reignited the long-running Duke-Kentucky recruiting rivalry.

Kentucky.com poses three questions about this:

  1. With NIL rights now a major factor, how will that affect recruting for both juggernauts?
  2. Will Jon Scheyer, just 34, be able to mold groups based on one-and-done freshmen into dominant teams?
  3. With Penny Hardaway signing both Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren, is Memphis about to join the party at the top?

Well let’s look at these things.

First, Duke is a tremendous national brand and Kentucky is Kentucky. Both schools are going to be able to compete in an NIL world. That’s less a concern for them than anyone else.

Second, Scheyer has spent somewhere north of 40 percent of his life at Duke and learning from Coach K. By all accounts, he’s got a great basketball mind. We won’t know until we know for sure, but from here, he looks like a really smart hire.

And third, Hardaway, who has hired Rasheed Wallace and Larry Brown, can pitch Memphis as an NBA finishing school but there’s a catch: the AAC is about to lose some real oomph with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF decamping for the Big 12, Memphis may have some trouble selling the program to future recruits. This would change if it moved to a bigger conference more suitable to Hardaway’s ambitions, but the Big East apparently has zero interest, the ACC has no reason to add Memphis and the Big 12 just passed them over. So the odds of a conference upgrade seem pretty minimal.

So while Hardaway had a knockout class this year - even though both Bates and Duren have been downgraded somewhat - he may find some sharp limits at Memphis (he may also be fielding calls from NBA teams as well).

So really the questions here come down to this: can Scheyer handle the job? We think he can.

But again, we’ll know when we know.