There are recurrent surprises in basketball recruiting, and then there are borderline-unprecedented and shocking events. What happened with Duke on Monday night qualifies with the latter.
A player almost nobody had heard of, three-star recruit Jordan Goldwire, took an official visit to Duke on Monday. By 8:36 p.m., he had committed to play for the Blue Devils next season.
Goldwire, who was previously weighing offers from Eastern Kentucky, Coastal Carolina and Hofstra, commits to Duke at a time when Mike Krzyzewski is recruiting elite five-star prospects and future one-and-dones such as Trevon Duval, Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bamba.
And here's this point guard out of Norcross, Georgia who somehow catches Coach K's eye, gets an official visit to Duke, and within hours winds up changing his life forever. The commitment to Duke comes shortly after Goldwire had visited Mercer. Wild. This turn of events amounts to one of the most surprising recruiting marriages in college hoops in the past few years, if not longer.
It's also pretty cool to see something like this. Krzyzewski has had a top-two recruiting class most years in the past half-decade, yet here he is taking a kid that wasn't being recruited by any other school in a major conference.
"This is crazy," Goldwire told ESPN. "Something I never expected. ... I was going to commit to Eastern Kentucky, but Duke showed interest recently, and it was something I couldn't pass up."
From thinking you're going to play in Richmond, Kentucky, to going to Duke. What a head-spinning week for Goldwire.
Notice that "for the next 4 years" bit in his commitment. Goldwire will be there for the long haul.
Why did Krzyzewski make the move to recruit this kid? First off, for Krzyzewski to recruit a player who might be three-star level, from a personal standpoint, he obviously won over the interview process. To play at Duke in 2017 you either have to have NBA potential or fit seamlessly into K's system. Goldwire seemingly has something about him that wooed the Duke staff on the whole.
From a practical standpoint, you could also consider this to be point guard insurance. Duke has lacked a pure point guard for a couple of years. That void was one of the reasons last year's team wound up being inconsistent and failed to reach even the Sweet 16. With Goldwire, you have an appreciative prospect who's going to be able to run the scout team and — perhaps — serve as a stopgap option at point guard in the years ahead. He's 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and reportedly a respectable defender on the perimeter.
Duke is currently awaiting a decision from freshman Frank Jackson, who is testing NBA waters after a solid first season in Durham. Even if Jackson returns, he's not a true point guard. And if Duke does not get Duval (an absolute stud of a point guard and surefire 2018 NBA lottery pick), Grayson Allen would be asked to run the offense next season.
We seldom see big-time schools go after low-rated players, but every team has different needs. Perhaps Goldwire will turn into something vital in the years to come. It's not like we haven't seen that before, or even recently. Though it's uncommon, remember that Frank Mason originally committed to Towson before winding up as the afterthought in a Kansas Class of 2013 that included Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden. Mason went on to become the National Player of the Year.