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The Duke basketball recruiting train chugs on as head coach Mike Krzyzewski and company landed another five-star recruit on Thursday when Vernon Carey declared his decision to join “The Brotherhood” in a televised announcement on ESPN’s Sportscenter. He’s the latest elite talent to commit to Coach K, including fellow 2019 recruits Wendell Moore and Boogie Ellis. While many pointed to current Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel as the architect of Duke’s recruiting resurgence, it’s clear that Jon Scheyer, Nate James and Chris Carrawell are very talented recruiters in their own rights.
BLOWOUTS BACK ON
Duke didn’t let the loss to Gonzaga affect it for long. Since that two-point loss in the Maui Invitational championship game, Duke has blown out three opponents and showed that it was able to learn from the setback. It’s not the easiest thing for a young team to do, turning negatives in to positives, but the Blue Devils beat Indiana 90-69, Stetson 113-49 and Hartford 84-54 to move their record to 8-1 on the year.
PLAYING WITHIN THE GAME
RJ Barrett was already leading the team in scoring, but has found ways to play within himself and let the game come to him since missing a potential game-tying layup in the waning seconds of the Gonzaga game. Barrett scored 22 against Indiana, 26 against Stetson and 25 against Hartford. Over his last two games, the freshman put up 53 points in 53 minutes on 22-of-28 shooting, logging 23 rebounds, dishing 11 assists and grabbing four steals. Barrett was already playing at a level that put him in the upper echelon of the sport, but is improving his ability to play within the team concept game by game. That should scare the daylights out of the teams remaining on Duke’s schedule.
FUN TO WATCH
Did you see the off-the-backboard alley-oop from Zion Williamson to Barrett against Hartford? That was just one of 10 dunks the Blue Devils had against the Hawks, including two missed dunks by Williamson — who is one of the best at the skill in the country. These guys are playing with a looseness and freedom that not many basketball coaches around the country would allow, but Coach K has once again shown the ability to adapt to the talent on his team.
STEWART DECISION UPCOMING
Duke is hoping to secure a commitment from five-star big man Isaiah Stewart when he makes his decision public later this month. Depending on who you talk to, Stewart may be inclined to play with Carey at the next level, or he may choose to go down his own path and select one of his other finalists. Michigan State, which went down to the wire with Duke for Carey, is the perceived favorite in the 247Sports Crystal Ball. Stewart and Carey will sign in the spring signing period in April.
INDEPENDENCE BOWL IT IS
Duke is going bowling for the sixth time in the last seven season, and this year the Blue Devils will be spending the holiday season in balmy Shreveport, Louisiana. Their opponent, Temple, will provide a tough test to a Duke team that fell flat on its face in the regular-season finale against Wake Forest and likely fell out of a bigger bowl opportunity with the loss. The game kicks off on Dec. 27 at 1:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN in front of a national audience
NFL DRAFT DECISIONS
Linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, quarterback Daniel Jones and cornerback Mark Gilbert have all been mentioned as potential early entrants in to this summer’s NFL Draft. If Jones leaves for the league, as many have predicted due to him being projected as a first- or second-round draft pick, it would be a feather in the cap of the coaching staff on the recruiting trail. However, it would leave the program in a precarious position as they open next year against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta and also host Notre Dame in the nonconference slate in 2019.
Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.