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Duke Recruiting: Blue Devil Commits Rise in 2023 Rankings

Jon Scheyer’s second class looks to be a worthy follow-up to his stellar debut on the recruiting trail

Syndication: Courier News
Gill St. Bernard’s Mackenzie Mgbako (right) moves the ball against Hunterdon Central’s Kevin Adams during their game on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. 
Alexander Lewis / MyCentralJersey via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Unsurprisingly, Duke is well represented in recently updated 2023 recruiting rankings released by Rivals and 247Sports, highlighted by consensus Top 5 recruit Mackenzie Mgbako.

Mgbako rose two spots in Rivals’ rankings to No. 5, while falling three spots on 247’s list to the same rank. The forward from New Jersey seems to check all the boxes for an instant-impact college player and one-and-done prospect: his size (6-foot-8), ability to play the 3 or stretch-4, and solid perimeter jumper fill coveted needs at the pro level. Despite being ranked their fifth-best prospect, Mgbako was considered for 247’s top ranking, and finds himself squarely in the first round of very early 2024 mock drafts.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils’ other front-court commit, Sean Stewart, has solidified himself as a Top 10 prospect, which is all the more impressive considering he was a 4* prospect when he committed to Jon Scheyer. In fact, Stewart has was unranked by Rivals at the end of his sophomore year and not even a Top 50 recruit at the beginning of his junior season, showcasing Scheyer’s ability to identify rising recruits before the competition (see: the meteoric rise of Kyle Filipowski).

In the backcourt, both Caleb Foster and Jared McCain made headlines with their performances on the summer circuit, although the two recruiting sites differ in their assessment of the guards. Rivals now has McCain rated two spots ahead of Foster, with both just retaining their 5* status. On the other hand, 247 is much more bullish on Foster, ranking him as their No. 9 recruit, a 5 spot jump. McCain, meanwhile, dropped a few spots to No. 26, making him a 4* in 247’s eyes.

While it’s unsurprising to see Duke raking in the 5* talent, beyond Mgbako there’s less clarity as to how these recruits project at the NBA level than there has been in the recent past. NBADraft.net’s early 2024 mock, for instance, includes Mgbako and McCain as first rounders, but Stewart and Foster aren’t listed.

Stewart finds himself as a bit of a “tweener” in the NBA’s eyes: while a stellar athlete and a plus defender, the power forward is only listed at 6-foot-8, 210 pounds and has a limited offensive game. In a league where traditional big men have lost much of their value, Stewart’s current game might just translate better at the college level.

Foster and McCain, meanwhile, will likely see their stock depend on their performance in Duke uniforms. Both project as point guards at the next level given their size, and both are seen as solid (and in McCain’s case, potentially spectacular) outside shooters. But Foster’s athleticism doesn’t jump off the screen, and McCain has played primarily off the ball during his prep years. It’s conceivable that both could play themselves into the first round conversation in 2024, but the scouting indicates it’s a real possibility that Duke could have a sophomore 5* guard on the roster in 2024.