By Mychal Hunter
It happened. Finally. When you think about it, it was bound to happen sooner or later. A basketball recruit figured out the Duke recruiting strategy before it ruined years of what is already a limited college experience.
The strategy? “You’re our guy until we have a shot at someone better.”
You could also say it’s: “You’re our guy because we don’t want to deal with you on another ACC roster.”
Boogie Ellis de-committed from Duke yesterday. It was a surprise move, not because it was the wrong move, but because it was the obvious move for a young man with potential to be a professional. I saw it first from Evan Daniels, but @MGrads has been credited with breaking the story.
Ellis, a top 35 player out of Mission Bay, CA, committed to Duke last November after the Blue Devils missed out on Josiah James, who signed with Tennessee. Ellis was assumed to be the successor to freshman Tre’ Jones at point guard, but Jones decided to stay for his sophomore season. That wasn’t a huge problem because Ellis is also capable of playing the off guard position.
Here’s where things get hilarious. About a year ago, a young man named Cassius Stanley named his final 6. Those schools were Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, UCLA, USC and Texas. All of a sudden Duke is in the picture months later, he visits Durham on April 12, 2019 and commits within the next two weeks, effectively taking Ellis’s starting off guard spot. Ellis evidently sees the writing on the wall (he should, he was who Duke recruited to cover up Alex O’Connell after all) and asked for his release.
This is not the first time this has happened at Duke. The list of players who go to Duke only to be recruited over is growing every single season at this point. Semi Ojeleye, Derryck Thornton, Marques Bolden, Chase Jeter, Javin DeLaurier, Alex O’Connell, Jordan Tucker, Joey Baker and now Boogie are all high level prep players who were sold on the “brotherhood” and then discarded when a shiny new toy came along. Those are just off the top of my head.
Jordan Tucker was taken simply to keep him from going to either Syracuse or Georgia Tech. I have still never been able to figure out why Joey Baker reclassified only to redshirt, but I REALLY don’t know why K would burn that redshirt in order to play him 18 minutes over four games. I mean, I do know why, K doesn’t give a shit. Now, Baker is in Durham, with no redshirt season left and he’s sitting behind Jack White, AOC, Wendell Moore, Stanley and Matthew Hurt.
Early indications are that Ellis is looking at Memphis primarily. This is interesting because the Tigers currently have depth in the back court and could be adding more. Tyler Harris and Alex Lomax will be sophomores and incoming Damion Baugh is a fairly highly regarded player. Jayden Hardaway, the coaches son, is also on the roster. Memphis is considered to be the leader for newly reclassified RJ Hampton and IMG Academy product Lester Quinones as well.
If Memphis doesn’t pan out it wouldn’t shock me to see Ellis give San Diego State, who was in his final five, another look along with USC. Ellis also officially visited Georgia Tech, but right now it doesn’t seem as if Josh Pastner could close a book, nevermind a high end prep recruit.
UCLA has been mentioned, which could carry some merit. Mick Cronin needs guards in the worst kind of way, but does his style of play match up with what Ellis does on the court? That is a solid, definite, possibly. I could see him develop into that Troy Caupain type game, but is that what he wants? Honestly, who knows?
One thing is for sure, he is one of the best kids available in the 2019 class and his commitment could lead to the movement of other players, as Duke is not the only one that plays this game.