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Paolo Banchero makes shocking commitment to Duke

The Blue Devils pull off a stunner with arguably the best player in 2021.

City Of Palms Classic Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Duke has just pulled off what may be the biggest recruiting stunner in the Class of 2021.

On Thursday, five-star forward Paolo Banchero made a shocking announcement that he had committed to the Blue Devils. He picked Duke over the Kentucky Wildcats, Washington Huskies, Arizona Wildcats, Gonzaga Bulldogs and Tennessee Volunteers.

For much of Banchero’s recruitment, Kentucky was viewed as the slight favorite, but Tennessee had been picking up a lot of steam in recent weeks. A big part of that was the Vols landing Kennedy Chandler, who has discussed teaming up with Banchero in college. Banchero even wrote in a blog post over the summer that there was a good chance he would team up with Chandler in college.

But if not Kentucky or Tennessee, Gonzaga and Washington looked like the next biggest contenders for the Seattle (WA) native. Duke was getting no buzz, so this is a testament to how well Banchero played his cards close to the vest. No one was predicting Duke to be the pick at Rivals or 247 Sports. And it was widely expected that Banchero would wait until the spring to make a decision.

Oh well. Now Kentucky will have to find new frontcourt targets in the Class of 2021. Plus, the one-time transfer rule is expected to pass next year, so Kentucky could have a gluttony of frontcourt options, though none of them will be as good as Banchero. He’s got all of the tools to be an annual NBA All-Star, so this is still a major loss for the Wildcats.