With the early signing period on the horizon, another top prep basketball star in the class of 2024 has made his college commitment.
On Saturday afternoon, Patrick Ngongba II — a five-star center who is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 25 overall player in the 2024 recruiting class — committed to head coach Jon Scheyer and the Duke Blue Devils.
Ngongba opted for the blue blood powerhouse from a small list of finalists that also included Kansas State and Kentucky.
Ngongba made his college commitment during a live-streamed announcement on the 247Sports YouTube channel.
Ngongba — who was measured at 6-foot-10 in October at a USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp in Colorado — gave insight to the Herald-Leader at that camp about the main factors in his college recruitment.
“Just a place where I can develop and get ready for the next level and (that has) a family environment,” he said.
The star big man took a close look at the three schools that comprised the finalists in his recruitment.
He took an official visit to Kentucky in late September, and two visits to each of Duke and Kansas State. It was K-State that got the final visit from Ngongba last weekend.
But it appears the pull of playing for a name-brand college basketball power helped seal the deal.
It also couldn’t have hurt that Duke is putting together what looks to be a historically good 2024 recruiting class.
While some early recruiting predictions called for Ngongba to head to Kansas State, a flurry of projections that arrived late this week signaled Ngongba was likely to commit to the Blue Devils.
— USABJNT (@usabjnt) October 8, 2023
With Ngongba now in the fold, it’s almost a certainty that Duke will finish with the best recruiting class in 2024.
Duke also recently received a commitment from Cooper Flagg, a forward who is viewed as a generational talent and the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 NBA draft.
According to ESPN’s prospect rankings, Flagg would be the sixth top-ranked recruit to go to Duke since 2007.
Scheyer and the Blue Devils also have Darren Harris (a high school teammate of Ngongba at St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Virginia), Kon Knueppel and Isaiah Evans as part of the 2024 recruiting class.
These five players all rank highly according to the major recruiting services.
According to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) — which combines the rankings from the nation’s top recruiting services into one single metric — Duke’s five commits in the 2024 recruiting class hold the following rankings:
▪ Cooper Flagg (No. 1).
▪ Kon Knueppel (No. 15).
▪ Isaiah Evans (No. 17).
▪ Patrick Ngongba II (No. 24).
▪ Darren Harris (No. 60).
Duke’s Countdown to Craziness event in October featured both Flagg and Ngongba in attendance, as well as class of 2024 shooting guard V.J. Edgecombe, who is also being recruited by both Duke and UK, among other schools.
Since 2011, Duke has occupied the top spot in the annual 247Sports team recruiting rankings on five occasions (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022).
Where does UK basketball stand with 2024 recruiting?
So after missing out on Ngongba, where does this leave John Calipari and the Kentucky men’s basketball program when it comes to recruiting in the 2024 class?
For now, things are fine.
And the Cats have plenty of irons in the fire when it comes to potential future commits as well.
Chief among these coveted prospects is Jayden Quaintance. A 6-foot-10 center, Quaintance reclassified from the 2025 to the 2024 recruiting class over the summer. Because of his young age, Quaintance won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until the 2026 edition.
This means he will be a two-year player at either the college level, or with a professional setup, before he can join the NBA ranks. That is a major reason why Kentucky is making such a strong effort to land Quaintance, who visited Kentucky last weekend.
He’s also taken visits to the NBA’s G League Ignite, Ohio State, Missouri and Florida. Currently, the G League Ignite, Kentucky and Missouri are viewed as the leaders in Quaintance’s recruitment.
Other class of 2024 prospects who are uncommitted and still considering UK include point guard Travis Perry, wing Billy Richmond, the aforementioned Edgecombe and Quaintance and small forward Karter Knox.
In recent weeks, Calipari hasn’t been shy about pumping up expectations for these future UK recruiting classes.
“But Kentucky is Kentucky,” Calipari said last month at UK’s media day. “We still like recruiting in the ‘24 class, really good. 2025 class may be better.”