Last week Duke secured what might be the final piece of its stellar 2023 recruiting class in TJ Power, a consensus 4* recruit ranked as high as a 5* (and the No. 21 player in his class) by Rivals. Power joins combo guards Caleb Foster and Jared McCain and forwards Mackenzie Mgbako and Sean Stewart in a class that is in pole position to be the No. 1 in the country, and could by season’s end consist of an almost unprecedented five Top 25 recruits.
Given the lack of a true center in the 2023 Class, the casual observer might wonder whether Power was targeted to fill that role. The answer is a resounding no. Despite his 6-foot-8 frame, Power is a perimeter-oriented offensive player, as a look at his AAU highlights show.
TJ Power announces his college decision at 5pm today on @247Sports.— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) September 7, 2022
▪️ ambidextrous & very mobile forward
▪️ unselfish ball-mover with a high IQ
▪️ handler & passer for his size who has developed into a spacer & shot-maker in the last year. @TJPower14 I @thebabc I @WA_VBB pic.twitter.com/dSbJ9USrwA
In the clip above, Power essentially acts as a point forward, initiating the team’s offense from the top of the key. He showcases an ability to beat his man off the dribble and turn that penetration into easy looks for his teammates: he constantly gets to the paint, draws multiple defenders, and deftly passes out. He also shows stellar court awareness with his ability to move off the ball and get open for perimeter shots. Not surprisingly for a highlight package, he makes them all smoothly.
Duke fans should also love the reasoning behind Power’s commitment. Power counts versatile Duke players like Cam Reddish, Marvin Bagley III, Jason Tatum and Gary Trent as his childhood idols, and admits he nearly committed on the spot after his official visit. It also appears Power fits a pattern in Scheyer’s recruiting: selling versatile players on their ability to play creative, exciting, and essentially position-less basketball in a Duke uniform.
There are similarities between Power’s game and the more highly regarded Mgbako that led some experts to think Power might be scared off by the lack of a clear starting role. But Power’s competitive nature put those concerns aside in a way that should further endear him to Blue Devil fans:
People often speculated over the roster at Duke and how it has all this talent and if that would deter me. But for me, it’s like, Who do you think I am? I can hoop, too. I can play with these kids, and I don’t have to take a backseat to anyone.
Given the versatility of the incoming class, there’s sure to be plenty of playing time for Mgbako, Stewart, and Power as forwards, with or without a traditional center in the rotation (it’s worth remembering, though, that Ryan Young, Christian Reeves, or even a sophomore Kyle Filipowski could fill that role). That trio splitting minutes at the traditional 3 and 4 spots could be amongst the most talented in the country in the fall of 2023 despite their youth, giving Blue Devil fans plenty to be excited for.