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Seattle prep standout Paolo Banchero picks Duke, listed Gonzaga among finalists

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 20, 2020

O’Dea’s Paolo Banchero (41), shown in a Feb. 2018 game against Seattle Prep, committed to Duke over Gonzaga and four other finalists.  (The Seattle Times)
O’Dea’s Paolo Banchero (41), shown in a Feb. 2018 game against Seattle Prep, committed to Duke over Gonzaga and four other finalists. (The Seattle Times)

Seattle prep standout Paolo Banchero, who listed Gonzaga in his final six, announced his commitment to Duke.

Banchero, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward entering his senior year at O’Dea High, is ranked No. 3 in the 2021 class by 247sports and ESPN. His finalists included Washington, Arizona, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“A lot of people say different things about Duke, but one of the main things that stands out to me is that they have three straight years that they have had the national freshman of the year,” Banchero told Rivals.com. “Being able to come in as a freshman and to play through my mistakes and play a lot and them setting me up for success.”

Banchero in late April spoke highly of Gonzaga’s player development and track record of sending bigs to the NBA. In June, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote it was hard to determine a favorite but “Kentucky is in a strong position while Gonzaga and Tennessee make up the next tier. I wouldn’t count out any of the six, though.”

Banchero visited Gonzaga in January. Banchero’s parents were athletes at Washington.

There was also some thought Banchero would join his friend Kennedy Chandler, who recently committed to Tennessee, since the two had discussed the possibility of playing at the same school.

Duke wasn’t mentioned as often as the other schools, but the Blue Devils won out, adding Banchero to their 2021 class that already includes top-10 prospect AJ Griffin.

Banchero led O’Dea past Mt. Spokane 70-39 in the 2019 Washington State 3A title game. O’Dea finished second in 2020.

Gonzaga has one 2021 commitment, forward Kaden Perry of Battle Ground (Washington) High. Perry is ranked No. 47 by 247sports. The Zags remain involved with three players ranked in 247sports’ top 10, including No. 1 Chet Holmgren, No. 7 Caleb Houstan and No. 9 Nathan Bittle. GU also recruited No. 8 Peyton Watson, who chose UCLA.

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