Dereck Lively commits to Duke hoops in post-Mike Krzyzewski era

Dereck Lively, the No. 3-ranked high school player in the nation, committed to Duke Monday evening giving the Blue Devils the No. 1 recruiting class coming in next year. The 7-foot-1 center will be joining other top-10 players Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski, as well as four-star guard Jaden Schutt

The last time Duke had the No. 1 recruiting class and three top-10 players was in 2018. Who were the players in that class? Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. It’s always great to have the top recruiting class coming in, but there’s a huge difference in these two classes. The 2018 group committed to playing for arguably the best college coach of all time in Mike Krzyzewski, while the group coming in next year will be playing for his replacement, Jon Scheyer. 

“If Coach K can make the U.S. national team play together with a bunch of NBA All-Stars then he can get us, this recruiting class and all this talent, to play together. He’s one of the best coaches of all time,” Barrett said after committing to Duke. 

Playing for Krzyzewski would be a dream for any young college player, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for the top talent in the incoming 2022 recruiting class. 

“There’s so much history at Duke and Coach Scheyer has won a championship as a player and has been by Coach K’s side for so many years as a coach, so he knows what he’s doing,” Lively told Yahoo Sports this past summer. 

Dereck Lively at the Pangos All-American camp in Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of Nick Lucero/

Scheyer has been instrumental in multiple recruiting wins over the years, but having the No. 1 recruiting class in his first year as a head coach is a surprise. 

“Duke is still Duke and players are drawn to that blue-blood culture, no matter who’s coaching,” one ACC assistant told Yahoo Sports.

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Lively played AAU ball last spring and summer alongside Memphis commits Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates, making up one of the best teams to hit the court on Nike’s EYBL circuit. He averaged five blocks per game. Their team, Philadelphia -based Team Final, won the biggest tournament of the summer, Nike’s Peach Jam, and played in front of NBA scouts as well as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. 

Whitehead is one of the most prolific scorers in the class and was one of the leading scorers on Nike’s EYBL, averaging 17.6 points per game, playing for Team Durant. Filipowski recently won a gold medal for Team USA in the U18 FIBA 3×3 World Championship in Hungry He is 6-foot-11, has a strong handle and can extend his game past the 3-point line. 

There’s a lot of talent coming in next season. 

After 41 seasons, the upcoming 2021-22 college season will be Krzyzewski’s last. He has a strong group of players returning and a few one-and-done players added to the team led by freshman Paolo Banchero. Banchero is the first college player ever to appear in NBA 2K and is a projected top-five pick in next year’s NBA draft.

“Last ride for the GOAT,” Banchero tweeted after Krzyzewski announced the news. 

There will be a lot of eyes on Duke this upcoming season, and pressure is on for this group of players to send Krzyzewski off on a high note. The Blue Devils are expected to enter the season as a top-10 team and one of their biggest challenges will come on Nov. 26 when they square off with Gonzaga and the projected No. 1 player in the 2022 NBA draft, Chet Holmgren. 

Scheyer has literally done everything he can to set himself up for success in the post-Krzyzewski era, starting with this recruiting class coming in. There will be even more pressure and speculation on Scheyer and the group coming in as Duke moves forward with a new head coach for the first time in over 40 seasons.

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