Duke is getting 5-star forward Joey Baker a year early
News is just now breaking that class of 2019 5-star forward Joey Baker has elected to reclassify into the 2018 class.
He will be joining Duke next season.
It’s funny to think that a Duke Blue Devils team that is losing its entire starting lineup (Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Trent Jr., and Trevon Duval are declaring early. while Grayson Allen is graduating) could actually be stronger next season, but given Duke’s historically strong recruiting class, it’s entirely possible, and some of the more recommended sportsbooks seem to agree.
Baker joins fellow 5-star prospects SG/SF R.J. Barrett (#1 overall in 2018), F Zion Williamson (#2 overall), SF Cameron Reddish (#3 overall), and PG Tre Jones (#17 overall) to form what could be the best recruiting class of all-time.
Baker, a 6-7 forward from Trinity Christian School in North Carolina, ranked No. 15 in the ESPN 60 for 2019.
This all happened quickly for Baker:
“Everything happened pretty fast over the last few weeks,” Baker said. “I feel like I’m ready. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I could handle it.”
But he believes that jumping up a class will ultimately allow him to grow quicker than has he stayed in high school for another year:
“I talked to the coaches about it and we figured it was the best decision for my basketball game and off the court growth as well, like in the class room and socially. I feel like it will challenge me in all of those aspects and allow me to grow a lot faster than I would.”
It doesn’t hurt that Coach K. believes Baker could be a key complementary piece to the other 5-star recruits:
“They feel like I’ll be able to help because I can shoot the ball and stretch the defense,” Baker said. “I know that going against that freshmen class and the other guys they already have will be great experience for me.”
Baker will likely come off a now fairly deep bench, alongside Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Antonio Vrankovic. With Barrett, Williamson, Reddish, and Jones looking like clear-cut starters, it will be interesting to see what Duke does at center this season with the presumed favorite being Marques Bolden, who hasn’t yet lived up to his lofty high school reputation.
Duke had also reached out to Joe Cremo, a grad transfer from Albany. Cremo averaged 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game last season, but just yesterday he announced that he was down to five schools: “Creighton, Texas, Villanova, Kansas, and Gonzaga in no order.”