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Duke Lands Winslow, Jump Wildcats

Justise Winslow, middle, watches on with his future teammates.

Commitments from Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones would be enough for any program to consider their incoming freshman class a success. However, The Blue Devils didn’t stop there. On Thursday, Justise Winslow announced his decision to play for Coach K next year, giving Duke their third player ranked inside the top 10 of Rivals top 150 list for the class of 2014. The commitment from Winslow helped Duke jump Kentucky for the top class ranking for 2014.

Okafor, Jones, and Winslow, ranked one, five and nine, respectively, by Rivals.com, gives Duke one of the most talented recruiting hauls over the last decade. Since 2003, only two programs have had three top 10 high school players all commit to play at the same school in the same year. Duke’s arch rival, the North Carolina Tar Heels, accomplished the same feat in 2006 with commitments from Brandan Wright (3), Wayne Ellington (8) and Ty Lawson (9). Kentucky, not surprisingly, has done it twice under John Calipari, who is known for landing top recruits. In 2011 Calipari landed Anthony Davis (2), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (3), and Marquis Teague (5). His current Wildcats include a remarkable four top 10 freshman, and six inside the top 20. Julius Randle (2), Andrew Harrison (5), Aaron Harrison (7), and Dakari Johnson (9), headline potentially the best recruiting class of all time.

Duke also signed shooting guard Grayson Allen back in April, who is the 34th ranked prospect on Rivals.com. Since 2003, only two programs have been able to snag at least four top 35 players. Kansas did it in 2005, and Kentucky has done so a ridiculous four times (2009,2010,2011,2013).

The 2014 recruiting class that Duke can compete with anyone on paper, but at the end of the day it’s all about results. What makes some of the recruiting classes mentioned above so great is that they delivered with championships.  Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush stuck around to win a championship at Kansas, both members of that 2005 recruiting class. North Carolina won the championship in 2009 with Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, who were both members of Carolina’s 2006 recruiting class. The 2011 recruiting class for the Wildcats was able to win it all as freshmen.

The 2014 recruiting class will have a lot of hype surrounding them, but ultimately their legacy will be determined on the court.