Last Saturday, Duquesne had all of its recruiting eggs in one basket in the North Hills. This weekend the Dukes have an empty basket after Ryan Luther committed to Pitt and his brother Collin had his offer rescinded as it came with a revocable clause if his twin went elsewhere. So where do the Dukes go next?
For some perspective, the Dukes found themselves in a similar situation last year when they focused their efforts on landing Rene Castro. At the end of October, the Dukes only had two scholarships available for 2013 and they already gave one to Isaiah Watkins. Presumably, the coaching staff would have more available in the spring following some likely defections so it didn’t come as a surprise that they dangled multiple lines to other prospects. With Watkins in the fold, the staff prioritized a ball handling shooting guard and went all in on Castro. He committed to Butler on 10/28/12 and few days later small forward targets Ahmad Fields and Kamall Richards no longer appeared interested leaving the staff with only a couple weeks till the fall signing period to restart the process and convince a player to fill the last scholarship. They began targeting Jon Severe, whom they managed to woe enough for a late visit, and Duane Notice. Both waited until spring and ultimately decided to go elsewhere.
Ryan’s decision gave the Duquesne staff a few extra days and a weekend to start working the next angle compared to last year. However, they probably could have used a few more. Presumably their Plan B, Iowa has Michael Nzei visiting as I type this entry. While the Dukes can compete with the Hawkeyes for prospects, it could end up as a problem of too little, too late for the staff and at the moment, I don’t feel great about their chances with him. Duquesne visited Rashard Figures at MACK Prep in Charlotte a month ago and the coaching staff could make him a bigger priority to take Collin’s spot. Another skilled 6’5” player similar to the already verballed Eric James, Figures could pair with the Ohio guard giving the Dukes lots of size and grit on the wing. Jaylen Barford has loads of interest in the Dukes according to Verbal Commits. The Tennessee guard named Duquesne in his top 8 over the summer, but his recruitment has gone quiet of late. The coaching staff could heat up their pursuit of Beaver County teammates Ryan Skovranko and Elijiah Minnie. However, I suspect both will hold out for bigger offers in the spring.
Of course, it’s possible the Dukes could go in another direction entirely. With the eligibility and injury situations of freshman post players Jordan Robinson and Isaiah Watkins, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Dukes pursued a JUCO big man to provide insurance and bridge the gap till the two high upside underclassmen prove they can hold their own. If the NCAA forces Robinson to redshirt, it actually would surprise if the Dukes didn’t go this route. I also could imagine them going off the reservation for a diamond in the rough type ala LG Gill should they hold the scholarship to spring.
At the moment, I can’t tell if the Dukes sit in a better position now than they did at this time last year. Either way, November will test the resourcefulness and closing skills of the coaching staff once again. I would hate for them to hold both open scholarships till spring. Fall is when you land plans A and B. While I like the players signed last April, spring pushes you further down your list, forces you to take risks or compete with bigger schools who have begun to reach late in the recruiting process. I’m ok with one April add, but I’ll feel much better about 2014 Duquesne recruiting if they lock at least one other player up in the fall.