Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Duke Weighing Options, Bacot Scheduled For Oct. 6 Visit

David Duke has illustrated it again and again. His final decision will be predicated primarily on which system best aligns with his on-court capabilities. Duke has assured us he won’t be choosing the school with the most appealing NCAA brand name on the jersey.

 The most prized recruiting class or a star-spangled surrounding cast will certainly help, albeit they won’t be the determining factors.

The program which best utilizes Duke as a stout on-ball defender and hard-slashing offensive option with a no longer suspect jump shot is bound to win the battle. Duke said his preference is a program which enables him to play on and off the ball, utilizes a consistent up-tempo attack, and emphasizes the pick-and-roll game throughout.

Following a summer in which Duke put his acrobatic finishing ability on full display, most notably during Adidas Eurocamp, NBPA Top 100 camp, and in Florida on the AAU circuit, Duke has several important visits lined up.

Having wrapped up an official visit to Florida this past weekend, Duke will visit Virginia Tech this weekend officially. He’ll follow this up with an official visit to Villanova on the weekend of October 6. Jay Wright was an active presence in his recruitment throughout the summer, watching him play several times with Mass Rivals AAU.

The homegrown Providence product has visited the Friars’ campus a handful of times. Indiana is the other program being considered by Duke, now a four-star Class of 2018 recruit. At the culmination of his sophomore campaign, Duke did not have a single offer on the table.

He was then valued as a mid-major prospect before authoring a monster uphill tear during his junior campaign.

With his defensive acumen, underscored by a knack for eliciting turnovers and converting them into quick transition buckets, Duke rapidly ascended the nation’s upper crust of unsigned prospects. Now the bar is raised considerably for Duke, who is tasked with spearheading Cushing Academy (MA) in the talent-loaded NEPSAC AA.

The efforts Providence head coach Ed Cooley has put in since the very start has been acknowledged by Duke. He’s also impressed with the increase in star power these coming years, as the Friars cracked the nation’s top-15 with their 2018 recruiting class.

Still, none of the five has developed an upper hand or provided separation on the other. Duke is weighing all of the positive draws to each program before arriving at a decision.

In an era where student-athletes struggle with indecisiveness, being sure is a necessity.

This particular generation has made a habit of de-committing, re-evaluating, and subsequently transferring from school to school at an unprecedented rate.

Thus, Duke understands both the importance and necessity of feeling out every potential destination before deciding.

The Friars have shown they will continue to scour the country for the best available prospects. Cooley recently saw bruising 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward Armando Bacot in Virginia.

While backing down defenders and bullying his way to the rim appears to be Bacot’s forte, he’s equally appealing for his mobility and presence on the boards.

The Class of 2019 prospect’s size and upside as an imposing defensive figure have also garnered notice. Scoring at point-blank and overpowering defenders in the trenches, Bacot has the potential to be a high-efficiency threat at the next level.

 Bacot will visit Providence unofficially on October 6. The Friars have sizable competition, as Bacot now holds offers from Villanova, Duke, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and 35+ others.

One-time Providence target Joel Ntambwe, a multi-layered 6-foot-8 Class of 2018 forward at Believe Academy (TN), appears to be leaning towards UNLV. The Friars were at one point considered the favorite, and Rhode Island was recently involved with assistant coach Tom Moore in active pursuit.

UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies was at the sprawling Athens, Tenn. campus to see Ntambwe this past week. All signs indicate Ntambwe could close the deal with UNLV soon. 

A key figure in the recruitment of Ntambwe has been former Friar assistant Andre Lafleur. Known to pursue hybrid forwards of Ntambwe's style and make-up, Lafleur envisions a jack of all trades talent in the Congo product. 

After playing a variety of positions (and even some point forward) at the controversial Forest Trails Academy in North Carolina last year, Ntambwe played in various tournaments while visiting New York this summer. He had a 32-point performance at fabled Dyckman Park and also scored 28 points and tore down 15 rebounds during the quarterfinals of the CYP Tournament in Port Chester.

“Joel is a guy that can guard 1-5, he’s not by any means polished yet, but he’s got guard skills and big man skills,” said Tom Sampogna, who coached Ntambwe at the CYP tournament.
“He’s going to be a huge asset at the next level. He’s probably going to be a 3-4 combo in college, a stretch four. He can go on the block, he’s got big man moves. He can face up a little bit. He needs to go to the right school that can develop all aspects of his game. He’s going to be a 3-4 combo that can stretch the floor. What Joel understands is he’s not a banger. He’s got a finesse game, he’s got European guard skills.”

At Believe, which ramped up its program with an infusion of Division-I talent, Ntambwe will play under former UCF high-scoring guard Brad Traina

Traina, who holds various records at UCF and pieced together a 10-year stay in Europe's professional ranks, will utilize several long, athletic and explosive weapons on a high school team rife with heavily-courted prospects. 

The team will compete in the prestigious Grind Session, which has racked up a number of the nation's premier prep programs for its 2017-18 events.