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Blue Devils land Cassius Stanley

Cassius Stanley committed to Duke on Monday.
Cassius Stanley committed to Duke on Monday. (Associated Press)

Every so often there is a surprise commitment. And while Cassius Stanley’s decision did not come out of nowhere, his recruitment to Duke is relatively new.

Stanley announced his decision to sign with Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils on Monday, choosing them over UCLA, Kansas and Oregon. His hometown Bruins were considered by many to be the favorite, while a majority of college hoops fans believed the 6-foot-5 shooting guard was headed to Kansas.

On Feb. 27, however, members of the Duke coaching staff made a trip to California to get a closer look at Stanley. They liked what they saw, and his recruitment picked up steam from that point forward.

Over the next month and a half-plus, Duke made up significant ground on Stanley’s other suitors. In the end, Krzyzewski’s message stuck.

So, what does Duke get in Stanley?

Devils Illustrated’s Clint Jackson, who admittedly has not scouted him nearly as much as Duke’s other targets, offers his take.

“Full disclosure is that I haven’t seen Stanley in action as much as all of the other Duke commitments and targets in 2019,” Jackson said. “But I have watched him live once and saw pieces of another game.

“It’s easy to see that he’s gifted. His size at 6-foot-5 is perfect for a college wing and I see him as an interchangeable guy who can play the two or the three. He generates plays via his dribble-drive and has a good feel for things going to the rim. He passes well on the move and uses his size and bounce to score over bigger players in lane.

“He’s a versatile defender from what I saw, one who can switch and guard multiple positions. He’s also an above average rebounder as a two or three.”

With that, many have wondered why the Blue Devils targeted another perimeter player with Wendell Moore, Boogie Ellis and Matthew Hurt, who plays the stretch four role, all in tow.

Some believe it presents challenges for Ellis to get on the floor as a freshman. There is an argument against that, though. Ellis, who is known to be an elite shooter, could benefit greatly from the likes of Stanley, who has gained a reputation for attacking the hoop.

In fact, Jackson does believe Stanley has some similarities, though not a complete likeness, to one of Duke’s most athletic wings of the past.

“I don’t have a dead ringer for a comparison from a former Duke player, but Gerald Henderson is about as close as I can get because he’s smooth, loves to drive and can score from mid-range or at the rim,” Jackson noted.

“He’s on the same level, athletically as Henderson, and may be even more explosive. Simply put, he is very exciting in transition and his dunks, albeit not on the Zion Williamson level, can bring back memories of Corey Maggette or the aforementioned Henderson.”

Stanley’s ability to attack with an explosive, relentless approach, gives Duke that missing piece with the departure of RJ Barrett and Williamson.

The four-star’s commitment to Duke takes the Blue Devils to the top of the Rivals.com rankings, joining five-star’s Vernon Carey, Jr., Hurt, Moore and Ellis in an impressive haul for the class of 2019.