Five schools remain — still — for top-ranked point guard Trevon Duval. I’ve taken a stab at dissecting all five destinations to project how the next few weeks may play out in his recruitment.
I haven’t perfected reading minds yet, but I find it fair to consider a few general factors that go into a recruit’s ultimate decision and apply them to Duval’s situation.
Immediate playing time is likely 1-A or 1-B on Trevon’s list of priorities along with existing or incoming talent that projects at the Sweet 16 level and beyond for the 2017-18 season.
Beyond those two variables are tertiary desires like proximity to home (Delaware) — which seems to play a role here — program prestige, add-on incentives like Seton Hall’s Under Armour affiliation or Duke’s incredible home atmosphere, and so on.
For this analysis, I’ll take a look at purely playing time and fluctuating talent as those are infinitely more concrete than hearsay in the realm of shoe deals.
Favorites: Duke Blue Devils
First up is Duke, the universal favorite to land Trevon Duval. It would be crazy to bet against Coach K in pretty much any recruiting battle save John Calipari’s Kentucky, but that’s what much-maligned Kevin Willard is trying to do.
The Dukies lose two-guard Matt Jones (32.9 mpg, 7 ppg) plus leading scorer and wing Luke Kennard (35 ppg, 19.5 ppg) from their backcourt along with a series of forwards in Amile Jefferson, Jayson Tatum, and Harry Giles to either graduation or the pros; junior guard and leading assist-man Grayson Allen (14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) remains undecided about his NBA future, Allen is a borderline first round choice.
As far as playing time goes, Duke has a pair of highly-rated two-guards already signed in Gary Trent Jr. and Alex O’Connell while freshman point guard Frank Jackson (25 mpg, 10.9 ppg) is probably expecting to be handed the reins next campaign. If Grayson Allen returns, that will make the Blue Devils much stronger on paper, but it also eats up a lot of shots and minutes that otherwise would have been Trevon Duval’s.
One can spin the outcome of Allen’s decision two ways, both of which can benefit Duke: if he stays, there are less touches for Duval but a much more potent team. If he leaves, there is only one primary ball-handler in Frank Jackson and therefore 30+ minutes per game available.
I tend to believe that Allen staying hurts Duke more though — it will be much tougher for Duval to get the playing time he will demand up front in that scenario. Either way, Duke will be tough to beat here.
The Contenders: Kansas Jayhawks and Seton Hall Pirates
From what I’ve gathered, there has only been recent chatter about two schools that can compete with Duke — that’s Kansas and Seton Hall.
On a potentially positive note for Duke and Seton Hall, it looks like Bill Self’s program may be operating as if their future will not include Trevon Duval.
A waiting game was employed by Duval’s camp — rightly so — to see if key players from his final five schools would leave for the pros or stay, resulting in the recent news that rising senior point guard Devonte’ Graham (13.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) will return for his senior year, joining incoming top-50 point/combo guard Marcus Garrett in Kansas’ backcourt next year.
That playing time situation isn’t exactly an easy sell but it also doesn’t completely eliminate Kansas, though the recent addition of Memphis transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson (both forwards) ate up the last two available scholarships that Bill Self currently has, pending another departure.
While far from a source, I’ve also seen various Kansas-affiliated fans on Twitter stating how Duval is not headed there, adding to the train of thought that they are no longer a serious threat.
Moving on to Seton Hall, odds are you already know the projected situation for next season: Kevin Willard has no lead-guards on the roster (though Khadeen Carrington can play point guard for 5-10 mpg) while Angel Delgado deciding to return is mandatory for Duval to even consider South Orange.
That said, it appears that Seton Hall has by far the cleanest slate as far as playing time goes. Duval would have the keys handed over to him and could see as many minutes as physically possible in a way that not even Isaiah Whitehead had when he was a freshman — Whitehead averaged 27 mpg in his first year.
The Dark Horses: Arizona Wildcats and Baylor Bears
For perhaps telling reasons, another pair of top-25 programs in Arizona and Baylor are on Duval’s final list, but neither have received the same type of buzz that has surrounded the aforementioned three schools.
Well-known for their ability to pull top-ranked guards, Sean Miller returns senior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (5.9 ppg, 4.1 apg) and adds top-100 floor general recruit Alex Barcello this off-season to replace freshman guard Kobi Simmons (8.7 ppg, 2 apg), who looks like he is off to the NBA — two-guards Rawle Alkins (10.9 ppg, 2.1 apg) and Allonzo Trier (17.2 ppg, 2.7 apg) also have a pending status, both eat up a ton of shots and minutes.
Despite the potential to lose a lot of firepower, it appears that the Wildcats are set at point guard for next season, though who can really turn away a top-ranked recruit?
Finally, it’s time to see what sort of chance the Baylor Bears have.
Like Arizona and Kansas, Scott Drew has a seasoned point guard returning next year in senior Belgium-native Manu Lecomte (12.2 ppg, 3.8 apg) with rising junior Jake Lindsey (4.7 ppg, 3.1 apg) likely pegged as a back-up.
In addition to tracking Duval, Baylor has been across the Atlantic to recruit French point guard Joel Ayayi in what looks to be a back-up plan and a supplemental addition alongside Lecomte and Lindsey.
In sum, Seton Hall is clearly the destination for Trevon Duval with the most available playing time, though the Pirates obviously did not make it as far as all four competitors in this year’s NCAA tournament and aren’t projected to advance as far as all four schools next season without Duval or a seasoned point guard added to their rising junior class.
It remains unclear when a decision date will be set, but Duval’s recruiting saga could stretch to May as early-entrants candidates like Grayson Allen have all the way until May 24th to make a final decision about the Draft.