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Duke is beating Kentucky at its own game in recruiting

There's no one better at securing star recruits than Mike Krzyzewski rignt now.

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Jayson Tatum didn't see a need to drag it out any longer. As a consensus top three player in the class of 2016, Tatum has been in the spotlight about as much as a 17-year-old hoops prodigy possibly could be. He's won three gold medals with USA Basketball, starred on Nike's EYBL circuit for two years and handled his recruitment in a neat and polished fashion that never took any wild left turns.

On Sunday, he was ready to tell the world he was going to Duke.

Tatum listed Kentucky and North Carolina as finalists, and reportedly gave major consideration to his hometown program, the Saint Louis Billikens. There's been a feeling for a while that Duke was the clubhouse leader, and Tatum made it official by lifting up a Blue Devils shirt minutes after advancing to the Peach Jam championship game on a frantic buzzer-beater.

It wasn't a surprise because Tatum has the type of polished game and personality that both felt like a natural fit at Duke. At this point, there's nothing shocking about a surefire future lottery pick spurning everyone else in favor of Coach K.

During an era when John Calipari has been hailed as one of the best recruiters of all-time, it's remarkable that Duke can so consistently beat Kentucky at its own game. Duke has positioned itself as a one-and-done factory where top players know they can win and get the most exposure possible before jumping to the NBA. Isn't that what every player should want?

So far as recruiting goes, this is a pretty hard pitch to turn down:

This is how it starts. Jabari Parker turns into Jahlil Okafor, who turns into Brandon Ingram, who turns into Jayson Tatum. Of course at Duke, it's always more than a one-man show.

After securing the No. 1 recruiting class each of the last two seasons, Tatum has Duke in position to make it a three-peat for 2016. He's the Blue Devils' first commitment in the class, but he's bound to have a few five-star friends coming with him. You can probably pencil in an elite guard like Dennis Smith or Frank Jackson, a top big man like Jarrett Allen or Marques Bolden, and maybe the only player in the country more highly regarded than Tatum. That would be Harry Giles.

Giles is a 6'10 big man from North Carolina with a game that might remind you of Chris Bosh. He calls Tatum his best friend after years of rooming together on USA Basketball trips across the world. They tell each other "I love you" regularly and have gone on the record about how much they would like to play together.

At this point, if Giles goes anywhere but Duke, it's going to register as a major upset.

It still feels like Duke is hated as much as any college basketball program in the country from fans, but the sentiment certainly has not translated to players. These new recruits were born five years after Christian Laettner left college. It's forced into action a question that once felt impossible. Is Duke, like, actually cool?

The world might always applaud when the Blue Devils get upset in the NCAA Tournament -- their Round of 64 exit to Mercer 16 months ago is proof of that. But in terms of producing awesome talents that are fun to watch, there might not be anyone doing it as well as Coach K. Basketball will always be a players sport, so even if fans find everything else about the program grating, the talent on the floor will do enough to sell itself.

Parker became one of the most magnetizing freshmen with an uncanny ability to score from all three levels. Okafor was a pulverizing offensive force, Justise Winslow a two-way battle tank and Tyus Jones the heady point guard everyone wants to play with. Ingram's game is so stylish and his upside is so unique that it's going to be impossible for anyone who loves the sport to root against him next season. Tatum and probably Giles will follow the next year, decimating everything in their path before likely becoming top five NBA draft picks.

All of this means it might be the worst time ever to be a Duke hater, as uncomfortable as it is to consider the thought. The single-elimination format of the NCAA Tournament means even the most talented team can get booted from the postseason early, but at this point there's no denying the fact that Coach K's recruiting ability is going to have Duke in the national conversation at the start of every season.

Duke is on fire, and somehow it feels like they're just getting started. Everyone else should be very afraid.