It wasn’t even a year ago that Coach K announced his retirement and that John Scheyersomeone with no head coaching experience, would succeed him in taking over the driver’s seat at Duke.

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K built Duke into the powerhouse program we know today in over 40-years so when Scheyer was named the head-coach-in-waiting, it wasn’t a surprise to hear questions from the Duke faithful and opposing fanbases make jokes and rant about how Duke will never even be able to recruit the same.

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Regardless of which side people were on and their message, the underlying themes of, ‘will Duke still be Duke without K?’ weren’t unjustified by any means.

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The past ten months as K went on his farewell tour have played out as a training ground and an airstrip for Scheyer to prepare to take the reins and to build his first roster and he wasted no time.

Within the first two months of being named the successor, Scheyer landed his first commitment for his 2022 class in Kyle Filipowskia 6-foot-11 big man who was skyrocketing up the rankings with his blend of size, toughness and skill level.

Frankly, Filipowski’s commitment wasn’t a surprise and Duke was expected to get him from the moment they offered him and same with Dariq Whitehead who hopped on board just a few days later.

Beginning a class with two five-star commitments was a great start but Duke had some big tests ahead of them on the recruiting trail to finish out this class with Mark Mitchell and Derek Lively in particular.

As Scheyer and his staff worked on Lively and Mitchell, Scheyer went back to his roots and reeled in another expected commitment in Jaden Schutta 6-foot-4 athletic and tough shot-maker from Yorkville (Ill.) Christian.

Next on the to do list was Lively, the No. 1 player in the class, and Mitchell but neither were expected to move quick in their decision making process.

The battle for Lively was a massive test as Duke went toe-to-toe with Kentucky and for months the information surrounding who led seemed to shift by the day and when Lively made the surprised announcement on Friday, September 17th that he’d be making his decision on Monday, September 20th the expectation was initially that he’d be a Wildcat.

However, when that Monday rolled around Scheyer and the Duke staff made a statement that they aren’t going anywhere with the addition of the No. 1 player in the country to their class.

With Lively, Schutt, Whitehead and Filipowski on board, the Blue Devils secured an early and large lead in the Recruiting Class rankings but they still had their sites on Mark Mitchell and were in the process of adding a developmental big man.

Mitchell was considering a handful of schools heading into winter but Duke’s biggest competition was UCLA, who was considered the leader through much of the recruitment.

However, as time went on, Duke consistently gained ground on the versatile five-star forward and on December 10th, 2021, the Blue Devils landed their fourth five-star commitment in the senior class.

In the mean time, Duke had also been working on their 2023 class and while they were in the process of adding five-star junior point guard Caleb Foster, they came across Christian Reeves, his seven-foot Oak Hill teammate.

Reeves isn’t exactly a prototypical blue-blood recruit but he fit a need and the program and within a month of receiving an offer from Duke, he was on board with their plan to come in and redshirt to develop his game, his body and to be an asset to the program for the years to come.

Now, here, at the end of the cycle, Duke has the No. 1 overall class in the country coming in to makeup for Scheyer’s first roster as head coach.

Worry has turned into excitement for many Duke fans as Scheyer exceeded expectations.

This recruiting class brings versatility, winning intangibles, talent, defense and while they’re young, they also bring leadership qualities – something that will be very valuable next season.

And if recruiting and competing with some of the best programs in the country to bring in the top 2022 class which includes three of the top five prospects wasn’t already enough, Duke went ahead and did a little work in 2023, getting the commitments of five more five-stars.