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Duke Recruiting: How Would JP Estrella Fit In 2023?

With a foundation in place, Jon Scheyer is looking for a big to round out his second recruiting class

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Practice Day
Duke Blue Devils associate head coach Jon Scheyer watches the team during a practice session before the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four semifinals at Caesars Superdome.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

While we don’t yet know what type of in-game coach Jon Scheyer will be, we know he’s relentless on the recruiting trail.

Scheyer’s first recruiting class brought three of the consensus top five 2022 recruits in the country to Durham as part of a stacked seven-man class (including recent reclass Tyrese Proctor). His second class is already ranked atop the 2023 rankings, with 4 of 247’s top 25 players committed to becoming Blue Devils.

But Scheyer isn’t done yet.

Duke’s new head coach offered fast rising big man Xavier Booker in late May, and soon after offered another Class of 2023 big, Maine’s JP Estrella. Like Booker, Estrella has rocketed up recruiting rankings, and is now listed as a 4 star on most sites after flying under the radar for much of his high school career (being from Maine likely contributed some to that, although fellow Duke target Cooper Flagg also hails from the Pine Tree State). The lack of a clear consensus on Estrella’s potential begs the question: is he a longer-term prospect like Christian Reeves in the 2022 class, a backup option in case Booker commits elsewhere, or someone bound to rocket up the rankings similar to Kyle Filipowski?

At 6-foot-10 (and by some reports approaching 7-feet), Estrella certainly has the size to be a center at the collegiate level, and is garnering a reputation as a rim protector—his potential fit at the center of the 2-3 zone is one reason why he’s become a top target for ACC rival Syracuse. Other ACC schools, including Wake Forest, Miami, and Virginia Tech, have offered. He’s also garnered itnerest from Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, meaning top Big Ten programs think he has the potential to contribute in that big-man dominant league.

Offensively, though, Estrella has skills that fit the modern game, including a developing three-point shot and the ability to create off the dribble. A late grower, Estrella has purportedly retained the agility he had as a smaller player, especially when it comes to attacking the glass quickly.

Beyond those snippets, Estrella’s potential still remains a bit of an unknown. Unlike other top prospects, Estrella hasn’t gone the prep school route, remaining in Maine where he’s likely playing against inferior competition. Historically, those type of players have taken longer to adjust to the college game, meaning Estrella may project as a multi-year collegiate player.

That reality likely indicates that Duke is viewing Estrella as more of a contributor in 2024 and beyond as opposed to immediately in 2023, which means he’s not necessarily conflicting with Booker, who projects to have a more immediate impact. How seriously Scheyer pursues Estrella will likely be more indicative of how the program views Reeves: if the young seven footer shows potential in his first (likely redshirt) year in Durham, it might not make sense to prioritize another multi-year big like Estrella.

But recruiting experts said similar things about Kyle Filipowski when he first committed to Duke. Now, Filipowski is a projected one-and-done, with Scheyer simply securing his commitment before his stock skyrocketed. It’s much too early to know whether the Duke staff views Estrella more like Filipowski or Reeves, but as he continues to garner high-major offers, the scouting report should come into greater focus.