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2022 men’s basketball class rankings: Duke, Kentucky continue battle for No. 1 spot

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Duke and Kentucky are battling for the No. 1 recruiting class.

Order has been restored on the recruiting trail in 2022, with the two recruiting powerhouses back atop the rankings. The Blue Devils and Wildcats were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in either order each year from 2014 to 2018 and again in 2020, with Memphis, Michigan and Gonzaga battling their way into the mix in 2019 and 2021.

Despite the introduction of name, image and likeness, as well as Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement announcement, Duke and Kentucky are fighting again for No. 1. The Blue Devils edged out in front after Dereck Lively‘s commitment Monday night.

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Lively was the primary Duke-Kentucky recruiting battle in 2022, as both programs looked like the favorites at different points over the past three months. Both schools hosted Lively for a visit in June and made him a priority on the recruiting trail during the July live period. But the Blue Devils won out, landing the No. 2 prospect in the class, giving them their third top-10 prospect this cycle.

Lively joins top-ranked small forward Dariq Whitehead, skilled center Kyle Filipowski and elite shooter Jaden Schutt in Duke’s four-man class. The Blue Devils still have top-30 prospects J.J. Starling and Mark Mitchell on their board, too.

Don’t count Kentucky out of the race, though. While landing Lively would have sealed the No. 1 class for the Wildcats, John Calipari’s program still has the overall No. 1 prospect in Shaedon Sharpe along with two other five-star prospects in Chris Livingston and Skyy Clark. Five-stars Cason Wallace and Adem Bona are in the Wildcats’ crosshairs.

If both Duke and Kentucky land their remaining targets, will the order at the top flip? That remains to be seen.

What is clear, though, is that nobody else is catching either Duke or Kentucky in 2022.

Previous ranking: 1 2022 men's basketball class rankings: Duke, Kentucky continue battle for No. 1 spot

It was imperative that the Blue Devils start strong on the recruiting trail after they announced Jon Scheyer would succeed Mike Krzyzewski for the 2022-23 season. With Coach K not out this summer, Scheyer and his staff have solidified the Duke brand by landing three five-star talents in Dereck Lively, Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski. Lively’s commitment is the one that ultimately could give the Blue Devils the top class in America. He’s an elite shot-blocker with a skill set offensively that includes range out to the perimeter. Whitehead is an elite defender and competitor with natural leadership skills and tons of intangibles. He has been a high-profile prospect since he was younger, but has maintained his humility and continued to improve with each passing year. Filipowski, on the other hand, has come on strong in the last two years. A playmaking big man who stands just under 7 feet but can still attack off the dribble and facilitate for others, Filipowski’s game has exploded alongside a new commitment to conditioning and consequent gains in mobility and quickness off his feet around the rim. Duke also landed top-50 guard Jaden Schutt, one of the best shooters in the 2022 class.

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