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Basketball Recruiting

Duke pledge and five-star senior Paolo Banchero talks offseason

November 3, 2020

Many were shocked this fall when Paolo Banchero announced his commitment, heck people were surprised that he chose Duke. He had several favorites like Gonzaga, Tennessee with Kennedy Chandler, and Kentucky was a strong option. Duke was obviously a finalist but they weren’t ever really a favorite.

Now, he’s a Blue Devil. His mindset though? remains the same. Banchero has had the same mentality for years now and that is to be the best in the world. He believes he’s the best in his class and his goal this season is to win a championship and prove his worth.

So what’s the latest on Paolo Banchero? We talked with him recently and he talked about several topics with

How has your off-season? How has Paolo Banchero’s game gotten even better?

Banchero: “I’m more fluid, quick, and athletic than I’ve ever been. And on top of that, I’ve really sharpened my three-point shot which needed improvement along with my ball handling. I’ve really been focusing on those two things and have made great improvements with both.”

You’ve been very vocal on your ranking, why do you believe you’re the best player in the country?

Banchero: “I don’t think that I’ve really been vocal, I respect people’s opinions. But I believe I'm the best player in the country because of the simple fact that nobody brings what I bring to the table when it comes to versatility, winning, IQ, and having an all-around game.”

Now let’s talk about your senior year, what are the goals? will you play your entire senior year, no more early-enrollment talk?

Banchero: “My goals if there is a season are to win a state championship. No, I will not be enrolling early.”

Now, let’s talk about Duke, signing day is three weeks away. what will you be doing?

Banchero: “I’m not sure yet, haven’t talked too much about it with my family.”

And Duke fans shouldn’t be worried right? You’re fully committed?

Banchero: “Yes, I’m 100% committed, I didn’t realize how close we were until signing day [laughs].”

Thoughts on future Duke teammate AJ Griffin Jr.

Banchero: “AJ is a freak of nature, but he’s not just a great athlete, he’s skilled up and can shoot from deep which makes him a mismatch wherever you put him on the floor. He is also unselfish like me so I know we will play well together.”

How’s your relationship with him [Griffin Jr.], who are you guys recruiting, and give me the behind the scenes of how it’s going down.

Banchero: “Our relationship is good. We met at the countdown to craziness last year and we’ve kept in touch since then. Trevor Keels and Patrick Baldwin Jr. are the two main guys that I’m talking to.”

Nolan Hickman is still pitching you to Kentucky [laughs]? Discuss your relationship with him and how happy you’d be to play against him at the college level.

Banchero: “Nah, he gave up a while ago [laughs], but no man that’s my brother. We’ve known each other since we were 8-9 years old and have been best friends since. One of the main things that bring us so close together is our competitiveness and will to win. Every time we’ve faced off in practice or in high school basketball it’s been a battle, so I expect nothing short of that in college.”

Did you have any major open runs or workouts this summer? with any college players or pros?

Banchero: “Yeah I did. I'm still participating in open runs 2-3 times a week with Jamal Crawford, Marquesse Chriss, Isaiah Thomas, Zach Lavine, Aaron Brooks, Spencer Hawes, Naz Carter, etc. And over the summer was much of the same so it’s been good.”

So, you’re still doing those every week?

Banchero: “Yeah, trying to get as many good runs in as possible before guys head back to their teams.”

What kinda advice have you gotten from guys like that, especially Jamal Crawford.

Banchero: “Jamal has really become a big brother to me over the last year and a half or so. He gives me a ride to the gym every time and is always dropping countless gems on me.”

UPDATE: I was able to talk with NBA legend Jamal Crawford last night and we discussed Duke commit Paolo Banchero. And also, for anyone who was wondering Crawford says personally he’s been feeling very good so maybe we could see him for another season or two or more.

But, here’s Crawford’s thoughts on Banchero as he shared with

If Jamal Crawford was an NBA GM, where is he picking Paolo Banchero?

Crawford: “If I was a GM, he would be a top pick. He's a can't miss prospect.”

Thoughts on his game?

Crawford: “He's so versatile, very cerebral with how he approaches the game. Very unselfish, plays hard, always working at the game, and how to get better. Then when you factor in all the off-court attributes, maturity for his age, work ethic, caring about his community. His parents have done an unbelievable job not just with P, but with his siblings as well. He's a little brother to me.”

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