Can Paolo Banchero Make the Duke Blue Devils Special Again?

Published 04/13/2021, 5:30 PM EDT


Paolo Banchero is the second best-ranked recruit coming out of the 2021 High School class. He is only behind Minnesota center Chet Holmgren and has similar potential. Banchero played as a center in high-school, but is expected to transition towards a Power Forward role when he joins the Duke Blue Devils.

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Banchero is a multiple-time All-American at the high school level and expected to make the transition to college basketball seamlessly. He averaged 32.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, three assists, and 2.3 blocks a game this season. But what is it about Banchero that makes him different? Sports Illustrated had this to say about Banchero after they listed him in their 2020-21 All-American team.

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“In Banchero, the Blue Devils get one of the most versatile bigs in the 2021 class with a variety of skills on both ends of the floor. Banchero scores efficiently on all three levels, protects the rim with great timing as a shot-blocker, and plays with an intense motor. The bottom line is that he’s a nightmare of a matchup for the opposition at his size (6-foot-10, 235 pounds) and skill-set.”

Paolo Banchero: Can he make the difference next season?

The Duke Blue Devils are coming off one of their worst seasons in program history. While their program was particularly bothered by COVID, there were many things that went wrong. From Jalen Johnson opting out of the season while Duke was in the race to get to March Madness, to Coach Mike Krzyzewski going off on a student reporter, it hasn’t been pretty at Duke this season.

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CLEMSON, SC – JANUARY 14: Mike Krzyzewski head coach for Duke during a college basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Clemson Tigers on January 14, 2020, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

But with a lot of their players from this year making their expected transition to the NBA, expectations for next year will be high again. Banchero brings the skill-set of a modern big to his 6’11 frame. He can score both inside and outside the paint. Along with that, he has shown defensive awareness in his game.

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Ig Banchero buys into Coach K’s system, the sky is the limit. Banchero is the top committed recruit, and Coach K can maximize Banchero’s potential. While it may be a hard transition, Banchero is just as primed as any player to make it successfully.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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