The players in the class of 2015 have two full years before they will be making their way to college, but many of the top players in the class are already being pursued heavily by some of the best coaches and programs in the country. Duke is one of those programs. They have already begun to hone in on some players they consider to be top targets in the class, and have given out some offers.
This post will be a list the top five players for Duke in the 2015 class. The main criteria I used to choose each player on the list are as follows in no particular order: Which players Duke is most likely to get commitments from, which players Duke needs the most, which players are the best fit for Duke, and which players I personally like the most.
1.) Ben Simmons - Many predict that Simmons will be Coach Krzyzewski’s top 2015 target, and for good reason. He is without a doubt not only one of the best players in the class at this point, but has some of the most upside and potential of all the prospects in 2015. The 6’9, 230 lb. forward is currently ranked 3rd overall in his class by ESPN and 2nd in his position (PF). Simmons is a versatile player with elite athleticism and great size. He can score from almost anywhere on the floor and has great court vision and passing ability for a front court player. Simmons is the exact type of player Coach K loves to coach, and has had great success with in the past. Last week Simmons received the first 2015 offer that Duke gave out, further confirming that he will be Coach K’s top priority. Simmons, who was born in Australia before recently moving to the U.S. this past year to play basketball and go to school at Montverde Academy, admittedly grew up a Duke fan and would be a perfect fit at Duke playing under Coach K.
2.) Elijah Thomas - Thomas is on of the best big men in the 2015 class. He has somewhat of a traditional offensive game, scoring in the paint with his back to the basket. He is a big, strong body (6’9, 230 lbs.) that is skilled in the post and has good, soft hands-a necessary trait for any successful post player. Thomas recently lost a lot of weight and got himself in much better shape, which has helped him improve as a player. Playing at a lighter weight has helped him be more mobile and explosive on the court while running the floor and playing in transition more effectively. Thomas being a highly rated big man is unsurprisingly a hot commodity for Duke who has struggled recruiting bigs the past few years. He, like Simmons was a fan of the Blue Devils and even went as far as saying Duke was a dream school for him growing up. Thomas is a great fit for Duke because if he chooses them he will get the opportunity to play in the paint surrounded by a plethora of outside shooters and talented perimeter players, which will open the game up for him down low. Duke could experience a beautiful inside outside game with Thomas in the post. Thomas is ranked #5 overall and the #2 center in 2015 by ESPN. He is expected to receive a Duke offer in the very near future, which could likely happen when he sets up a visit to Duke. Once an offer happens, many believe that Duke will be the leader for Thomas.
3.) Malik Newman - Newman is the top rated guard in the class of 2015 and arguably the best pure scorer in the class as well. He simply puts the ball in the basket from all areas of the floor. Newman can slash to the basket with ease and an incredible finisher at the rim. He can knock down shots from the three-point line and hit the mid-range jumper. While he has shown improvement in other areas of his game like passing and rebounding, scoring is the name of the game for the 6’3 175 lb. shooting guard from Mississippi. Newman recently was the recipient of the second offer Duke gave out in the 2015 class. The reason Newman is on this list is because of how good he is and how much I like his game, not because Duke has a good chance of landing him. Supposedly Newman is a big Kentucky lean, which is another school he just received an offer from. It’s early though so many things could possibly change.
4.) Skal Labissiere - The 6’10, 200 lb. Labissiere will need to put on some weight before competing at the college level, but other then that he is an excellent prospect at center. Labissiere is an active shot blocker, and is adept at getting his hands on and altering many shots using his impressive length and timing. He is also a good rebounder despite his low weight. On offense he is a very skilled player especially for his young age, and his able to score facing the basket or with his back to it. Labissiere’s style of play offensively has garnered comparisons to Tim Duncan. He is ranked 6th over all in the class by ESPN and the 3rd best center. Schools like Kentucky and Memphis have already done some work and made inroads with Labissiere, who is originally from Haiti, but he is a player who would likely be receptive to Duke recruiting him, which they started doing more seriously at last weeks NBPA Top 100 camp. Labissiere likes Duke and Coach K so he is definitely an intriguing front court prospect to watch in the 2015 class.
5.) Eric Davis - Davis is a relatively new prospect on Duke’s radar in the 2015 class. The 6’3 guard is ranked as the 19th overall recruit in the class and the 5th ranked shooting guard. Once 2015 comes around, what the Duke back court will look like is a bit of a mystery. Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook will definitely be gone. If Rasheed Sulaimon leaves for the draft after his junior year, and Tyus Jones doesn’t come to Duke or leaves after one year, that leaves just 2013 commit Matt Jones and 2014 commit Grayson Allen in the back court. Looking at it this way it would be smart for Duke to pick up at least one guard in the 2015 class. Davis is a guard that is comfortable playing both the one and the two spots. He can shoot and does a good job getting to the rim and finishing. He is also a good passer that enjoys setting up teammates. Davis is from Michigan, but says that he wants to attend a school out of state. Duke who has been in contact with him recently would be a good fit for Davis. With the freedom it gives its guards Davis could excel scoring the ball and being a facilitator with the Blue Devils.
Runner Ups- (These two are runner ups mostly because I am not sure of their interest in Duke, Duke’s interest in them or Duke’s intent to recruit them heavily.): Ivan Rabb, and Steven Zimmerman.