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Duke Recruiting: Tar Heel Envy Returns

No surprise but fun to see.

Duke v Wake Forest
WINSTON SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 12: Associate head coach Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils confers with an official during their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on January 12, 2022 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Duke won 76-64.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A lot of fans of other schools couldn’t understand why TJ Power picked Duke over, say, Virginia and UNC.

Take UNC super fan Art Chansky for instance.

We don’t begrudge him his loyalty to his alma mater. We totally get it. It’s just part of who he is.

When Chansky started covering Triangle sports, UNC was the dominant power and Dean Smith ruled the ACC.

At a certain point, he just was honest about his loyalties, writing in one annual that “I hate Duke. There. I said it.”

To which we thought: “fair enough, if a bit late.”

As he points out here, Power would have had a much higher chance at guaranteed minutes at UNC since a lot of Hubert Davis’s talent will likely leave next year.

Why, he wonders, would Power go to Duke? Well we can think of a few things.

First, while Jon Scheyer is not Mike Krzyzewski, he is from all accounts a savant when it comes to basketball. People used to say that Larry Brown could see the whole court at once, that he he didn’t need to break the game down into smaller bits. Scheyer, from what we’ve heard, has similar abilities. Doesn’t automatically mean he’ll be a great coach, but it’s good to start with.

Second, while Coach K was the head coach of course, remember when Jeff Capel left? People though the recruiting would fall off.

Didn’t happen - largely because of Scheyer, who helped recruit Zion Willamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, Jeremy Roach, Mark Williams, Paolo Banchero, and AJ Griffin. Since Coach K announced his retirement plans, Scheyer has recruited Dariq Whitehead, Tyrese Proctor, Mark Mitchell, Kyle Filipowski, Dereck Lively, Jaden Schutt, Mackenzie Mbgako, Caleb Foster, Jared McCain and now Power.

Part of it is Duke’s aura, which is pretty powerful. Part of it, as Chansky rightly notes, is NIL. Duke and Kentucky will have a big advantage in that regard for a long time. It’s just how things evolved.

Part of it, too, has to be Scheyer. He’s proven that he’s a tremendously effective recruiter, and we’re only going back to 2019. He’s widely regarded as one of the more promising young coaches in the game. He’s also very personable and he has one of the great jobs in sports. And NIL is working in Duke’s favor.

What Chansky may be thinking, but isn’t saying is this: Davis had a great year, so why isn’t he getting more talent?

UNC did get a recruit Thursday, Drake Powell from Pittsboro and it’s entirely possible that Powell could become a better player than Power or any of Scheyer’s other recruits. It’s possible that the pendulum swings back to UNC. You just never know.

Having said that, Powell was kind of under the radar and didn’t get the buzz that Power got. Mike Krzyzewski is gone and Duke is still getting the talent UNC wants, and our guess is that, too, irritates Chansky, who’s had a really tough time with Duke’s rise since Smith retired.