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Recruiting battles between John Calipari and Coach K headline 2018 class

Once this recruiting battle heats up, it’s the focus of the college basketball world.

NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke vs Kentucky Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It’s shaping to be another recruiting war between the Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils in the Class of 2018.

ESPN Insider Jeff Borzello recently listed John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski’s recruiting battle as one of his “what to watch for” items on this year’s recruiting trail.

They’re undoubtedly the two best recruiters in college basketball, and when they get involved in a player’s college decision process, it changes everything. Here’s what Borzello had to say about them.

When Calipari or Coach K walk into a gym, whispers start, heads turn, tweets are immediately sent out. That's just how it is on the recruiting trail nowadays, where Duke and Kentucky have finished 1-2 in some order in each of the past four recruiting class rankings. So when Calipari and K are seen at a player's games multiple times in one weekend this month, we'll start to see the hot boards for the Wildcats and Blue Devils take place.

Things can change drastically from the beginning of the month to the end of the month, but there's some early word on which players each school wants. They are both competing for most of the top players in 2018, including Bagley, Williamson, Reddish and Langford. Kentucky is in great shape with five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley and made strong moves for Bol Bol in the spring. At the point guard spot, Duke has zeroed in on Garland and Tre Jones. The Blue Devils also offered a variety of players in the spring, including David McCormack, Emmitt Williams and Jairus Hamilton. Things will get clearer very soon.

The top player that these two are battling for, Marvin Bagley III, was Borzello’s No. 1 item on the list.

Borzello said that Bagley has the entire rest of the class at arm’s length, and there’s a battle for the No. 2 player in the class, but no one is near Bagley for No. 1 (hence why Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and USC are all giving him a lot of attention).

Other players that both UK and Duke are fighting hard for are Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish and possibly R.J. Barrett if he reclassifies from 2019 into the 2018 class.

Cal and Coach K always express their interest and make offers later than most; they know the weight of a UK or Duke offer, and they don’t give them out until they know without any doubt that they want a player. That’s part of what makes their recruiting battles so exciting. As we draw closer and closer to 2018, this battle will get better and better.

You can read the rest of Borzello’s article here (it’s Insider only), which features talk about new coaches and how they’re impacting recruiting, discussion over potential breakout stars and analysis of point guard battles.