Vernon Carey's commitment to Duke shows the Blue Devils' recruiting hasn't slipped even after Jeff Capel left

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There’s no denying former Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel was a huge part of the Blue Devils’ recruiting wins in recent years that led to them enrolling the nation’s top-ranked class in four of the past five seasons. So it was totally reasonable for some to wonder if his departure to become Pitt’s head coach last March might cause Mike Krzyzewski’s program to slip a little, or a lot, on the recruiting trail in his absence.

It’s not really happening, though.

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That’s because Duke secured a commitment on Thursday from Vernon Carey — meaning the Blue Devils now have commitments from three top-40 prospects in the Class of 2019. Obviously, that’s not the same as getting three top-five prospects like Duke got in the Class of 2018. But it is good enough to give the Blue Devils the No. 6 class in 2019, according to 247Sports. And considering Duke is still seriously involved with at least two other top-10 prospects, it’s possible, if not probable, Coach K’s class will improve with time.

The fact that Carey, a 6-foot-10 center, is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2019 means Duke has now secured a commitment from a top-three prospect in each of the past seven years. That’s remarkable. And it’s also worth noting that the staff was savvy enough to avoid wasting their time with the nation’s top-ranked prospect, James Wiseman, well aware that the 7-foot center was always going to pick either Memphis or Kentucky. This allowed the Blue Devils to prioritize Carey from the jump. That decision paid off Thursday.

None of this is to suggest Capel, who is off to a 7-2 start at Pitt, isn’t missed at Duke. Because he is. But those who thought Duke might struggle, relatively speaking, on the recruiting trail after his departure look incorrect so far. Perhaps one day it’ll happen. It’s impossible to know for sure. Maybe one day Duke will slip. But it’s not happening yet.

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