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Why Duke’s entire coaching staff spent Tuesday in Chicago

Recruiting updates on Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie, Young’s DJ Steward and Morgan Park’s Adam Miller.

Young’s DJ Steward (21) gets a fast break for a dunk against Curie.
Young’s DJ Steward (21) gets a fast break for a dunk against Curie.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

There were a lot of different areas of the country Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski could have visited during the first few days of the NCAA open recruiting period this week. The legendary coach and his assistants, Jon Scheyer and Nate James, chose to spend valuable time in the Chicago area.

Coach K and his assistants were at Rolling Meadows Tuesday morning for 90 minutes. Before the school day started, the Duke coaches spent time with the state’s top-ranked junior prospect, Max Christie, and his parents.

Then Krzyzewski and his staff headed to see one of their top Class of 2020 targets — Young’s DJ Steward. The smooth 6-3 guard received an offer from the Blue Devils after a rip-roaring performance at Nike’s Peach Jam in July.

This open recruiting period comes after nearly a six-week quiet period for college coaches. So while it’s intriguing to see where a college coach goes in that first week, there can also be some over-analysis.

There are only so many places a college coaching staff can be and every program has different priorities. But Duke’s immediate presence at Young’s first open gym during the open period does catch your eye.

Young coach Tyrone Slaughter, though, is quick to point out, “It’s more about the time you put in rather than the one time.”

“I think the body of work in the recruitment is more important than being there the first or second day,” says Slaughter, who has had his share of high-profile and high-major recruits. “I don’t think my players have put a lot of stock into whether schools were here the first day or the second day [of an open period]. Plus, a lot of that has to do with locale and scheduling. In the end it’s more about how coaches have worked the entire recruiting process.”

Having a high-profile prospect with the growing national reputation Christie has is new for Rolling Meadows basketball and coach Kevin Katovich. While it’s certainly welcomed, Katovich and the school have maintained a tight lid on the visits and have avoided Christie’s star status becoming a distraction.

“The school has done a really good job of making sure it’s all about Max,” says Katovich.

Max Christie (12) of Rolling Meadows gets two points against Stagg, Wednesday 12-26-18. Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times
Max Christie (12) of Rolling Meadows gets two points against Stagg.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

This week Christie had visits from Duke, Villanova, Northwestern and Gonzaga. Next week Michigan State, Michigan, Virginia, Purdue and Ohio State are expected to check in at Rolling Meadows.

Despite all the interest and high-major offers, Christie is at the beginning of what will be a highly visible and contested recruiting process.

Morgan Park’s Adam Miller, meanwhile, is in the final stages of his recruitment. He took recent visits to Arizona and Arizona State, and the high-scoring guard will visit Illinois in two weeks. Thus, the first week of the open period was important in the Miller recruitment.

Illinois sent three coaches to Chicago this week, including head coach Brad Underwood, and had a home visit with Miller. Arizona had an assistant at Morgan Park, while Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley and assistant Rashon Burno were also in the Morgan Park gym.

Bloom coach Dante Maddox has had many college coaches in the gym over the past year. But that wasn’t always the case. Now this ballyhooed group of players who came in together are seniors and in the stretch run of their respective recruitments.

“It’s a little surreal,” says Maddox of the thought that over two dozen college programs were in the Bloom gym Wednesday and Thursday. “My first year there wasn’t a single coach in the gym in the fall. I’m proud of how far these kids have come and a free education now awaits them.”

Bloom seniors Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby, Dante Maddox and Plainfield East transfer Christian Shumate all have Division I suitors at some level.