UNC Basketball: Blue Devils losing recruiting battle for Patrick Baldwin Jr?

Sussex Hamilton forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. collides with Brookfield Central forward Malik Abdul-Wahid (24) as Andrew Rohde also defends during a game on Feb. 14, 2020.Rs5a0152
Sussex Hamilton forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. collides with Brookfield Central forward Malik Abdul-Wahid (24) as Andrew Rohde also defends during a game on Feb. 14, 2020.Rs5a0152 /

A 5-star UNC basketball target that was thought to be favoring the Duke Blue Devils looks to be headed elsewhere.

Patrick Baldwin, Jr. burst onto the scene in the spring of 2018, and he was immediately regarded as one of the top prospects in the class of 2021. He quickly picked up scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, Minnesota, Marquette and Southern Cal, among others, and that was just the beginning of what would turn out to be a list of nearly two-dozen schools.

Then the big boys came calling for Baldwin, as the 5-star wing received offers from Duke, Florida, UCLA and Wisconsin in the summer of 2018. Offers continued to come after that, as well as ones from Kentucky and North Carolina the following summer. But by then it seemed as if it was too late for anyone not already involved in the Baldwin sweepstakes, as most basketball insiders and recruiting experts predicted Duke as his eventual landing spot. That remained the case for the better part of three years…until this week.

Over the past two days, the Blue Devils have gone from odds-on favorite to land the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruit, to being on the outside looking in. The growing consensus is that it’s now Milwaukee-Wisconsin — where Baldwin’s father is the fourth-year head coach — that will land the recruit that everyone was convinced would end up in Durham just a short time ago.

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The three picks in Baldwin’s 247Sports Crystal Ball for Milwaukee-Wisconsin came from two Duke insiders and a Duke contributor, and all were previously picks for the Blue Devils. It’s also worth noting that all three picks come with a “high” confidence level, suggesting that their change-of-heart came with a fair amount of evidence to support the prediction. Another important thing to keep in mind is that all of the predictions for the Blue Devils, both on 247Sports and Rivals, date back to at least eight months ago, and in some cases, nearly three years.


So, on the day after 5-star freshman forward Jalen Johnson decided to walk away from the Duke basketball program with less than three weeks left in the regular season, another 5-star forward appears to be leaning away from the school that was so heavily favored to land him. Also noteworthy in this current Duke dumpster fire is that both Johnson and Baldwin played on the same AAU team in high school. Baldwin noted earlier in his recruitment that Johnson’s experience at Duke would have some impact on his decision to attend the school himself, so maybe the timeline of the Johnson’s departure and the tide changing in Baldwin’s recruitment isn’t completely coincidental.

All is not lost for Blue Devils, though, as they already have a pair of 5-star recruits in the mix for 2021, and a decent chance at landing a couple more. But things certainly aren’t looking great for the guys over in Durham. Add in the fact that the Blue Devils are just 8-8 and limping to the finish line, and one has to imagine that Mike Krzyzewski can’t wait to put a wrap on the 2021 season.

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