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5/24/2018 2:05 pm  #1

The class of 2017 that never was

It's pretty much our birthright as Duquesne basketball fans to get overly excited about every recruit ever mentioned in the same breath as Duquesne, regardless of coaching staff. Given that things are a little slow around here this time of year, I thought it would be fun to take a look at last year's recruits who never got here, including the Ferry recruiting class that de-committed, the other kids Ferry offered, and the kids that Keith recruited who went elsewhere. 

Jim Ferry's last recruiting class:

Jamari Wheeler, 6-1 PG: Ended up following Ferry to Penn State (though I think Wheeler got there first, no?) where he backed up AP All-American honorable mention Tony Carr at point guard. Played in all 39 games for the NIT champs, one of just three players on the roster to do that, averaging 2 points, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals in 14.4 minutes a game. He impressed more with his defense than his offense, I know, strange for a Ferry recruit. Had a season-high 6 steals in a win against George Mason. In Penn State's 5-game run to the NIT championship, Wheeler had just 2 points and 1 assist, but 5 steals in 48 minutes off the bench. The starting point guard spot is his to lose after Carr declared for the NBA draft and signed with an agent.

Darius Banks, 6-5 SG: Went to James Madison, where he finished third on the team in scoring at 10.2 PPG in 29.4 minutes a game for those other Dukes. Shot just 28.1% from 3-point range. The most statistically accomplished performance of Ferry's last class but he did it for the CAA's last-place team. Against the A10, he failed to score in 14 minutes of a 4-point loss to George Mason, but had 13 points in 33 minutes in a 3-point loss to Richmond

John Walker III, 6-9 SF: Perhaps the most ballyhooed of Ferry's recruits after winning Class 5A Player of the Year honors as a HS senior in Texas. After de-committing from Duquesne, he turned down offers from WVU and Arizona State to sign with Texas A&M, then sat out the season as a developmental redshirt for a deep team that made it to the second round of the NCAA tourney. At 6-9 and just 170 pounds, Walker needed to get stronger before going up against SEC frontcourts.

Lewis Djonkam, 6-9 PF: The last of the Ferry recruits to de-commit, Djonkam stayed in the A10, landing at VCU. However, he played in just 20 of 33 games for the Rams, averaging only 3.5 minutes a game. He saw the court for a grand total of 25 minutes in 10 of VCU's 18 conference games, including hitting for 2 points and an assist in 5 minutes of VCU's 78-67 win over the Dukes on January 9. He has transferred to defending Big South champion Radford.

Keith Dambrot recruits that went elsewhere:

Jermaine Jackson Jr
., 5-10 PG: Ended up following in his father's footsteps and going to Detroit Mercy, where he was the fourth-leading scorer at 10.5 PPG and led the team in assists at 2.7 PG. Scored a season-high 32 points in a January win against Youngstown State, but faded down the stretch, held to single digits in 8 of his last 10 games. Shot less than 30% from 3-point range despite averaging 6 attempts per game. Against the A10, he had 6 points, 0 assists and 2 steals in a two-point November win over St. Louis. Detroit finished dead last in the Horizon at 4-14, 8-24. Head coach Bacari Alexander was fired after the season.

Torrey Patton, 6-4 PG: Keith recruited him to both Duquesne and Akron and he ended up at Akron under John Groce. Played in all 32 games for the Zips, but failed to impress, averaging just 3.3 points, 0.5 assists and 0.5 steals in 16 minutes per game. He made just three of the 16 3-PT shots he took. He'll be transferring from Akron but hasn't landed anywhere else yet.

Jack Ballantyne, 6-9 PF: Joined his HS teammate Jackson at Detroit, where he played in 24 of 32 games, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game. He had 0 points and 2 rebounds in 11 minutes in their win against St. Louis. Did make 11 of 12 FTs for the season, but was only 9 of 37 from 3-point range. Both Ballantyne and Jackson are so far staying at Detroit despite the coaching change. 

David Collins, 6-3 SG: I know a lot of our fans were high on this kid and he showed a lot of promise down the stretch for South Florida, including hitting for a season-high 30 points in the Bulls' near upset of Memphis in the AAC tourney. Collins scored in double figures in nine of USF's last 10 games, including 21 in the Bulls' regular-season finale win over SMU. For the season, he averaged 10 points, 2.4 assists and 1 steal in 24.7 minutes per game, finishing as the third-leading scorer for Brian Gregory's team, which finished last in the AAC at 3-15, 10-22.

Josh Colon, 5-8 PG: Nick Washington's Puerto Rico U20 national team teammate ended up going the JUCO route, where he averaged 10.2 points and 2.2 assists in 19 minutes a game for Salt Lake Community College. His team was the 4th seed in the NJCAA tourney, but was upset in the first round. He shot better than 34% from 3-point range and was 19th in the country in FT percentage at the JUCO level at 85.4%. He's currently listed at 5-10 on SLCC's roster.

Jordan Wright, 6-5 SG: Offered by Ferry, but ended up at Kentucky on a football scholarship, where he's a weakside DE. Had planned to go out for basketball when he committed to play football at UK, but so far he remains a one-sport athlete. At that level, I imagine it's a bit harder to do both.

Justin Minaya, 6-6 SG: Offered by Ferry, but signed with South Carolina. Finished his freshman season as the Gamecocks' 4th leading scorer at 7.9 PPG. Also averaged 4.2 RPG, good for third on the team. He's more of a small forward for Frank Martin's team. His production tailed off a bit down the stretch, but he hit for double figures in 12 games, including a season-high 17 points in a December non-conference win over UMass.

Jalen Cameron, 6-5 SF: Offered by Ferry but went the JUCO route, averaging 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for Cape Fear Community College. He's now listed as a guard and shot 37.5% from 3-point range.

Alexis Yetna, 6-8 PF: The Paris-born Yetna joined David Collins in playing for Brian Gregory at USF, but was ruled ineligible for the 2017-18 season by the NCAA after playing at a US prep school--Putnam Science Academy--two years after graduating from high school in France. NCAA rules allow prep school participation only in the first year after graduating from high school. Yetna had to sit out the 2017-18 season and lost a year of NCAA eligibility. He remains at USF, where he's getting good grades and will be eligible for the 2018-19 season.

Isaac Kante, 6-7 C/PF: The Brooklyn native ended up at Georgia but didn't see the court much. The highlight of his freshman season was scoring 3 points, with 2 rebounds and a block in nine minutes of the Bulldogs' season-opening win over Bryant. He played a grand total of just 15 minutes in nine games the rest of the season. Georgia fired head coach Mark Fox after the Bulldogs finished 11th in the SEC at 7-11, 18-15. Kante won't be part of the program either going forward as he is transferring, but doesn't have a new team yet.


Last edited by DennisC91 (5/24/2018 2:21 pm)


5/24/2018 2:35 pm  #2

Re: The class of 2017 that never was

Good stuff, Dennis. Wheeler looked decent from the little I saw of him this year, but the only guy I'm really bummed to have missed out on is Collins. He's going to be a big star maybe as soon as this winter.


5/25/2018 12:30 pm  #3

Re: The class of 2017 that never was

Thanks for the deep research, Dennis. I had been keeping a little bit of an eye open following Banks, Wheeler, Djonkam and Walker. I think your research points out how hard it is for a freshman to make an impact. Dukes have been fortunate that Lewis II and Williams have done so over the last 2 years. If another freshman steps up this year, the Dukes should exceed expectations.


5/25/2018 1:20 pm  #4

Re: The class of 2017 that never was

Thanks, Dennis for some really insightful stuff. Ferry’s class looks decent but I find it interesting that Collins looks like the gem amongst the kids listed. Indicates that KD has a good eye for talent. That bodes well for our future.


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