ACC Basketball Recruiting: Duke Reloads but Surprises Abound

Chase Jeter will do his best to slide into the void left in the pain by departing freshman and potential No. 1 pick Jahlil Okafor. He might not be quite that good yet, but even if he’s a slight step back Duke won’t miss a beat. Coach K and company snagged four five-star recruits with this group and two more three-stars — David Robinson’s son Justin among them.

Louisville is another perennial favorite to reel in a top class both among conference teams and the national elite. Rick Pitino continues to rip up the recruiting trail as he winds down his career.

Among the biggest surprises is the fantastic effort from Florida State. Leonard Hamilton signed five players this offseason, good for the third best class in the ACC according to 247Sports.

5-star guard Dwayne Bacon and 5-star wing Malik Beasley highlight the group for the Seminoles. Highly sought shooting guard Terrance Mann joins as well as 7’3″ center Christ Koumadje from the illustrious Montverde Academy.

He’s certainly a very long kid, but at just 220 pounds or so he definitely needs to bulk up fast. Still, he will continue the standard of having seven-footers in the paint with lots of athletic wings and guards for scoring.

FSU appears poised to be a nationally relevant program again in the next few seasons with some talented young prospects poised to join returning studs like Phil Cofer and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Two of the biggest surprises come from the bottom of last season’s conference standings with Wake Forest and Virginia Tech both assembling strong recruiting classes in the second season of signing prospects under new coaches.

Buzz Williams notably brought in the top player in Virginia with the signing of 6’5″ swingman Chris Clarke. Seven-footer Johnny Hamilton is another skinny post with length who should help with the woeful rebounding of the undersized Hokies. 6’8″ forward Kerry Blackshear should help some in that department as well though both players will likely have an adjustment going against ACC talent down low. Talented point guard and recently named Parade All-American Justin Robinson will give Tech added depth as well on what is now almost an entirely new roster from the one Buzz Williams inherited.

Wake Forest has a really balanced class with three players to fill three different roles. I’m a big fan of Doral Moore, a 7-foot center from Montverde Academy. He joins 6’9″ forward John Collins and 6’3″ guard Bryant Crawford in the class for second-year head coach Danny Manning. All three are rated as 4-star recruits according to 247. Crawford is their top player in the Washington, D.C. area out of Gonzaga High School.

Despite the looming sanctions in upstate New York Jim Boeheim was able to retain a very high caliber group of prospects. Four 4-star talents will provide reinforcements next year when many eyes will be on the Orange and their controversial legend calling the shots on the bench.

Malachi Richardson (6’5″, 191) is an exciting wing player from Trenton Catholic School in New Jersey. He has a confident shot with nice range and figures to play substantial minutes early.

Moustapha Diagne is another big-time prospect by way of New Jersey who will really help a frontcourt that will be missing All-ACC talent Rakeem Christmas. Diagne will give them a legit talent to plug in and help ease the pain, though certainly not pick up all the slack in Christmas’ absence.

The bottom half of most rankings include programs Like Miami and North Carolina, places with talented players coming to campus but in small numbers, harming them in most supposedly unbiased ranking systems.

UNC for example has just two players joining the fold. Talented forward Luke Maye is one of the top players in North Carolina while guard Kenny Williams was a huge late snag out of Virginia. Williams was committed to VCU until Shaka Smart left for the job at Texas.

Pittsburgh is another program that only brought in two players but they fit the team needs very well. Seven-foot center Rozelle Nix is decidedly not a “skinny post” like some of the kids mentioned earlier, weighing in at over 300 pounds. 4-star shooting guard Damon Wilson also joins the Panther fold adding quality depth to a potentially strong backcourt.

Recruiting in the ACC is intense. Seemingly every program is a recruiting dynamo and things are only getting more intense with the resurgence of programs like Wake Forest and Virginia Tech on the recruiting trail, coupled with fairly new conference members Syracuse and Louisville.

We’ll continue to follow the classes as there are one or two more moves pending, but clearly if your talent level isn’t consistently on the rise in the ACC you’re in trouble.

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