Friar Basketball

Down to the Wire for David Duke

David D

So, you’ve taken the past seven months off from Providence basketball after the Friars were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in March. With the start of the season around the corner, you’re back and wondering, “Who is this David Duke character and why is everyone talking about him so much?”

Allow me to provide a timeline and a status update.

February 2016 — Rhode Island’s Best Kept Secret: The Providence native led Classical High School to a Rhode Island Division I State Championship. He was an all-state performer after averaging 15 points per game in 2015-16, yet by the end of that season his only offers consisted of locals Brown and Bryant.

May 2016 — The Friars Offer: Providence became the first high major program to offer him a scholarship, while Rhode Island followed a few weeks later.

September 2016 — The Transfer: Duke transferred to Cushing Academy, where he played alongside 2017 Virginia Tech commit (and fellow Mass Rivals AAU product) Wabissa Bede. Together they eventually led Cushing to a NEPSAC Class AA title.

It took less than a month on the prep scene for his stock to take off.

December 2016 — Stock Explosion: I watched Duke for the first time at two separate events in December and couldn’t believe my eyes. He was the best player on the floor the day Cushing defeated AJ Reeves and Brimmer and May, and was once again outstanding in a win over Kimani Lawrence and New Hampton a few weeks later.

He looked to be at least 6’3, shot the ball better than expected, defended aggressively, and played far above the rim. I knew this was an elite athlete and a potential impact player on both sides of the ball.

Was he a point guard? Was he a shooting guard? I didn’t care — I just knew he was really, really good.

January-February 2017 — National Notoriety: The Providence staff was in full pursuit by December and it didn’t take long until they had company. Along came UConn and Florida in January, Syracuse started sniffing around in February, while Kansas and Villanova began recruiting him soon after.

April-May 2017 — Buzz Enters the Fray: Buzz Williams and Virginia Tech got a good look at Duke when visiting Bede throughout last season and offered in April. Virginia and Indiana got involved in the weeks that followed.

Then the recruiting dominos begin falling around Duke.

Providence struck gold in April when class of 2017 point guard Makai Ashton-Langford got his release from UConn and committed to PC shortly after. Ashton-Langford, a top 40 prospect in his class, is another Mass Rivals product, and teamed with Bede at Cushing before playing the 2016-17 season at Brewster Academy (where his team went 33-0).

June 2017 — Reeves Pops: The Friars received more terrific news on the recruiting trail when 2018 prospect AJ Reeves committed in June, giving PC another top 50 guard and a potentially potent scorer.

There was short-lived talk about Reeves, Duke, and Rhode Island native Cole Swider making up a monster 2018 recruiting class. All three are considered top 50-60 prospects in 2018, and each hails from New England.

Yet, by the time Reeves committed to Providence it was generally known that Swider’s interest was elsewhere. He committed to Villanova a week after Reeves popped for PC.

August 2017 — Final Five: Eventually, Duke narrowed his list of schools to five in August: Providence, Indiana, Virginia Tech, Villanova, and Florida.

Throughout this process Providence has continued to recruit 2018 guard Noah Locke. The Maryland native is a sharpshooter whom Cooley and his staff pursued for over a year. Locke is considered one of the elite shooters in the country, and there were questions as to how Providence could find enough playing time for Ashton-Langford, Reeves, Duke, and Locke, if all were to commit. Florida is amongst Locke’s finalists as well.

September-October 2017 — Clarity: The picture begins to clarify.

Indiana faded after landing a top 100 point guard, leaving PC, Villanova, Florida, and Virginia Tech as Duke’s finalists.

Duke visited Florida in mid-September and Virginia Tech last weekend. He was supposed to visit Villanova officially this weekend, but cancelled that trip and is now coming to Providence officially instead. That sent shockwaves across Friartown.

There are three ways to look at Duke’s decision to cancel his Villanova visit.

An optimist would see this as a two-team race. Locke committed to Florida on Tuesday, which would seemingly rule the Gators out. Cancelling a trip to Villanova takes the Wildcats out of the equation as well.

Duke lives down the street from Providence’s campus, so if he planned on committing to Virginia Tech then why spend the weekend on an official visit at PC?

Locke committed to Florida the day before word leaked that Duke cancelled his Villanova visit — were concerns about a crowded backcourt alleviated with Locke out of the picture?

Conversely, Duke reportedly had an outstanding trip to Virginia Tech last weekend. With Clemson on campus for the most highly-anticipated football game of the Hokies’ season, Blacksburg must have been buzzing all weekend. Could Duke have called Cooley to say he was headed elsewhere only to give PC one final shot after that conversation?

The third possibility is that Duke is genuinely torn between Virginia Tech and Providence after last weekend’s visit, and wants one more serious look at PC before making a final decision.

We should know soon enough — quite possibly as early as this weekend.

Regardless of Duke’s decision, the Friars will have a pair of top 50 guards to build around in Ashton-Langford and Reeves. Still, Duke is a Providence native who the Friars offered nearly a year prior to Virginia Tech. Friar fans haven’t forgotten how Buzz Williams badmouthed the Big East on his way out of Marquette — at a time when the future of the league felt uncertain — which adds a layer of intrigue as this recruitment nears its conclusion.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar





  1. Derec Lamenxola

    October 5, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Providence College Mens Basketball Get Redey
    Dus Every One Know When The Late Night Midd.Night Manndess Do.You Know When IT IS And Becuase I Need TO Know When iS And We Need Emmit Holt Come Back On Campuis And We Need Emmit Holt Come.Back For.The Late Night Midd Night Madnness And.And We Nees Makai Ashton Langford Family Come TO The Providence College Mens Basketball GameThis Year

  2. Guy Greco

    October 5, 2017 at 3:27 am

    Thanks for the timeline. Great summary.

  3. kevin

    October 5, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Check out Luke’s Instagram; uniform pick plus Bede’s and AJ Reeves’ reactions. He is definitely a Friar!

  4. kevin

    October 5, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Check out Duke’s Instagram; uniform pick plus Bede’s and AJ Reeves’ reactions. He is definitely a Friar!

  5. Leo

    October 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Villanova may not be out of the picture. Mid term recess starts this Friday for a week. No reason to visit when everyone is away.

  6. Dean

    October 6, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Who is Duke is comparable to as a player?

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