ESPN 100 guard and Providence native David Duke made a verbal commitment to Ed Cooley and the hometown Friars on Friday, his 18th birthday, and also the day of Providence’s midnight madness celebration. Here's a look at what he brings to the court.
Why he committed: Indiana, Villanova, Florida, Virginia Tech and Providence were the schools that made up Duke's initial final five. Indiana and Florida both landed other point guards before the 6-foot-3 Duke was ready to make a decision, and he ended up canceling his Villanova visit before choosing between Providence and Virginia Tech. In addition to the opportunity to play in front of family and friends, Providence also offered Duke the chance to reunite with former Mass Rivals teammates Makai Ashton-Langford and A.J. Reeves. Virginia Tech also featured a close former teammate in Wabissa Bede, but ultimately the roots of this decision lie in the fact that Duke, Reeves and Ashton-Langford starred together on a Rivals team that won every possible championship on the Adidas circuit in the summer of 2016, and this group believes it can again come together to lead Providence to new heights. Providence assistant coach Brian Blaney was crucial to the recruitment of all three, but Duke in particular is a player Cooley personally invested time in recruiting.
What he brings: Duke is a late-blooming guard with a significant upside. He is a high-level athlete with great use of both hands, positional size and tools on both ends of the floor. He shows increasingly frequent flashes of playmaking ability and will undeniably blossom into a true star at the college level if he can ever put it all together on a consistent basis. He’s more of a new-age lead guard than he is a prototypical point guard, but he makes plays for himself and others, defends multiple perimeter positions, has excellent hands and natural touch with the basketball. He's working to become a more consistent shooter but is undeniably at his best in the open floor or when he's able to turn a corner.
How the class is shaping up: Reeves is a fellow ESPN 100 player, albeit one with a much different style: He’s a shot-maker who bases his attack around the arc as well as his ability to create space in the mid-range area. That duo is joined by a pair of forwards in Jimmy Nichols and Kris Monroe. Nichols is a long and versatile forward while Monroe is more of an inside-out 4-man, but both are capable of stretching the floor. Collectively, the group provides floor spacing and shooting along with some star power on the perimeter and depth up front.
How he fits: Ashton-Langford, who is currently a freshman, Duke and Reeves are the backcourt of the future. Ashton-Langford and Duke will share the ball in a dual lead-guard type of set, while Reeves will add his shot-making on the wing to form a potent three-guard lineup that should have instant chemistry given their history together. With Kyron Cartwright set to graduate after this season, there will be immediate minutes available at the point, and Duke is likely to get his fair share of those right away while also being able to slide off the ball. Alpha Diallo, Drew Edwards and Maliek White will all be juniors in 2018-19, so the Friars are loaded with perimeter depth and talent for the foreseeable future.
Who he reminds us of: The obvious answer is Kris Dunn. This isn’t to say Duke will necessarily reach quite the same levels as the Chicago Bulls guard, but their size, late-blooming frames, two-way game, drive-first style and even the way they move and cover the court are all very similar. Duke won’t match Dunn’s McDonald’s All American honors as a high school senior, but this is actually one comparison that has a chance of holding up if everything goes right for Duke in the coming years.