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Duke Blue Planet Goes Behind The Scenes In Chicago

A team building experience that could also be a major recruiting tool

High School Basketball: McDonald’s All American Boy s Game
McDonald’s All American West guard Jared McCain (24) in action during the first half against the McDonald’s All American East at Toyota Center. 
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke social media team has been putting out Duke Blue Planet videos for nearly 15 years now, but it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always highly polished, episodic “behind the scenes” looks into the team. Indeed, the “Duke Blue Planet” trademark was initially the name of a website geared towards potential recruits, that also happened to produce content like the postgame “Top Plays” that were of interest to the general fandom.

Years later, you can still see that recruiting focus in the modern Duke Blue Planet episodes.

This year’s first video takes viewers behind the scenes on the team building trip to Chicago. As a fan, it’s exciting to see the team building an obvious chemistry and camaraderie at this early stage, and the obvious bond between the four freshmen is extremely encouraging for the prospects of this year’s squad on the court.

The attention of a potential recruit might be drawn to some other elements of the footage, though. In all likelihood, a likely one-and-done prospect isn’t going to be swayed in his decision by the opportunities The Brotherhood provides off the court. But what about those potential four year guys, the Jaylen Blakes and Ryan Young’s of the world, who Duke fans have clamored for during the one-and-done era? Seeing how being a Blue Devil sets you up for life after basketball could be a major differentiator, and convince you to potentially sacrifice short-term playing time for long-term opportunities.

Any blue blood program can arrange a 5* trip anywhere in the country, but how many can go to a major city like Chicago and meet with nearly a half-dozen alumni atop major corporations, let alone get to go behind the scenes at those companies? How many programs have former players so connected with the program that they’d make a surprise visit to the team, like Jayson Tatum did? As Ryan Young has said on his aptly named podcast, The Brotherhood is more than a slogan, and Jon Scheyer appears to be making a concerted effort to highlight that’s the case not just amongst former players, but amongst the entire Duke alumni base.

All that also serves to explain the emphasis on the freshman experience in the video: Jared McCain, Caleb Foster, Sean Stewart, and TJ Power were front and center, spotlighted more than the squad’s group of returning stars. Seeing this experience through their eyes is what will be most engaging to the young men Duke is recruiting, while also serving as a way for them to boost their brand (and in turn potential NIL dollars).

Duke is fortunate to have arguably the best social media team in college basketball, and it seems nothing these savvy operators do is coincidental. The Chicago trip, and how it was captured by Duke Blue Planet, is clearly a differentiator between Duke and other blue blood schools, and now Coach Scheyer has this tool at his disposal as he works to put the finishing touches on his third recruiting class.