Dereck Lively II will reveal his college decision Monday night, and Duke is now looking like it will go into the announcement as the team to beat.
Lively — a 7-footer from Pennsylvania — said Friday that he would make his college announcement Monday at 6 p.m., a bit of a surprise for those in the recruiting world who thought he would wait until at least November, possibly taking some more campus visits over the next couple of months.
But Lively apparently has seen and heard enough in his recruitment.
247Sports analyst Travis Branham, who covers recruiting nationally, put in a Crystal Ball prediction for Duke later Friday afternoon. By late Saturday night, additional pro-Duke predictions had come in from Rivals.com national analysts Rob Cassidy and Jamie Shaw, as well as two Duke recruiting insiders on the 247Sports site.
There had been no new predictions in favor of Kentucky as of Monday morning.
Branham did note in his Crystal Ball story Friday that the winner of Lively’s recruitment was “far from clear” at that stage. Others in the recruiting world told the Herald-Leader over the weekend that Lively had done a great job of keeping his decision quiet, a glimmer of hope for UK fans as Monday drew closer.
On Monday morning, however, Branham updated his prediction to add a confidence level of 9 (out of 10), and by noon Monday all 15 predictions on Lively’s Crystal Ball and FutureCast pages were in favor of Duke, including two new, high-confidence picks from national analysts Eric Bossi and Jerry Meyer.
I have updated my Crystal Ball for Dereck Lively to a confidence level of 9 in favor of the Duke Blue Devils.
Lively's commitment to the Blue Devils would give them the No. 1 overall class in the 2022 Team Rankings.https://t.co/xhZnlHJMrJ
— Travis Branham (@TravisBranham_) September 20, 2021
Kentucky and Duke had long been seen as the co-favorites in Lively’s recruitment, even though he technically has five other schools — Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State and Southern Cal — on his list of finalists. UK and Duke both hosted Lively for official visits before the July evaluation periods, and he met with the coaching staffs of both programs in the opening days of the fall recruiting period, which started last Thursday.
It’s been clear for months that Lively was the top frontcourt target for both blue-blood schools, and the latest 2022 rankings bear out his standing as the best big man prospect in the class.
247Sports and ESPN both rank Lively as the No. 2 overall player in the 2022 class, behind only UK shooting guard commitment Shaedon Sharpe. Rivals.com has him at No. 3 overall, behind only Sharpe and UCLA guard commitment Amari Bailey.
In addition to Sharpe’s pledge, UK also has commitments from wing player Chris Livingston (No. 5 in the new rankings) and point guard Skyy Clark (No. 18), while the Cats are widely expected to land a commitment from combo guard Cason Wallace (No. 7) in the near future.