The Duke Blue Devils have been able to win national championships with very good players that were not among the consensus top 50 players. That’s the value of stellar coaching.
But already this summer the perennial force has added two top recruits to their roster, which surely will make the Blue Devils more dangerous. The latest is Semi Ojeleye, a small forward from Ottawa, Kan., and a member of the ESPN 100.
Ojeleye, a sharp perimeter shooter from three-point range with a mature body, is a senior who also considered Indiana, Stanford and Oregon. But when coach Mike Krzyzewski showed up at Ojeleye’s home to make his pitch that the player enroll at Duke, it was over. Ojeleye committed to the Blue Devils right there, in his living room.
“(Krzyzewski) was in here with (associate) coach (Steve) Wojciechowski,” Ojeleye’s mother, Joy, said. “We had some discussions, asked him a lot of questions. Everything went well and we were very happy. Coach K was excited. You’d have to be here to describe. To be honest, I never thought somebody like Coach K with his legacy, he’s seen it all . . .For him to be that excited we were honored. To see a legend get that excited . . . Wow.”
Call Coach K the “closer.” What kid would not be overwhelmed and influenced by the presence of Krzyzewski, the most prominent coach in college basketball?
Ojeleye’s ability to shoot matches one of Duke’s hallmarks. Their scheme focuses on tough defense, fundamental execution and stellar shooting. His defense might be questionable, but that’s where coaching comes in.
He is the second player to pick the Blue Devils, and both are highly regarded wings. No. 32 recruit Matt Jones of DeSoto, Texas committed to the Blue Devils last November. He’s the travel teammate of another Duke target Julius Randle of Dallas’ Prestonwood High. Randle would be a huge get, as he is the nation’s No. 3 overall prospect. If Coach K gets to his living room, surely Duke’s chances increase.