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Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Duke Basketball hiring former Nike ‘bagwoman’ Rachel Baker to be the program’s first-ever General Manager, and remark on the immense changes in the recruiting landscape since the inception of the new NIL rules.
DAN WETZEL: Duke University, Jon Scheyer, the head coach, they are killing it in recruiting.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, like crushing it to an unbelievable degree.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, the Nike pipeline is flowing, and Duke is rolling. They signed the top three players coming in, right? They just created a position for general manager, which has become sort of the new thing and I think is a great idea, someone who focuses solely on recruiting, transfers, running the scouting department, all of that stuff.
But they bring in Rachel Baker, who was previously at Nike. It's very smart. Rachel Baker is a very accomplished and organized-- she helped run the EBYL. Trying to run those events, just logistical nightmares.
PAT FORDE: Oh, they're the worst.
DAN WETZEL: The politics. I mean, it's just-- this is a very, very qualified and this is a great hire, OK? But there is some funny stuff with Rachel Baker, most notably when Michael Avenatti, who's now imprisoned on his second conviction, was briefly involved in the recruiting world-- because of course.
Part of his stuff he put out there was one of the all-time great quotes was Rachel Baker in I think it was a text-- we have it in our story from a couple years ago-- she expressed concern. A Nike executive, who led the event strategy for the EYBL, expressed concern to a colleague about carrying a large amount of cash through airport security, indicated she would just lie and say I just sold my car if she got stopped. This is according to a motion put in.
Man, has recruiting changed quickly. I love it. And I say this with all due respect. Rachel Baker was doing her job then. She's going to do her job great now.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: But that's pretty funny.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. No, when this thing blipped on the radar Tuesday morning, I was like, Rachel Baker, that name does sound familiar. Then, yeah, I found our story from three years ago-- you, myself, and Pete-- that included that Nugget in the swath of Avenatti allegations that were in this motion in which, yes, she was carrying large amounts of cash to an EYBL event for, geez, I wonder why.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, you know, a Coke machine.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, right. Got to buy Orange Slices for all the players, right? Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: This is finally-- we're out in the open.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. Yeah, right. No, Duke has hired somebody who at least, at first blush according to a motion in court, would fit the definition of a bag woman. And now she is the GM of Duke Basketball.
DAN WETZEL: Had a bag of money, I guess.
PAT FORDE: Had a bag of money.
DAN WETZEL: But, I mean, I know that world. And running those events and knowing everybody, I mean, this is a great hire.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, no, no. I mean, she's connected and she's-- if you can handle working in that world effectively, then, yes, you are going to be really, really valuable to Duke from a recruiting standpoint.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah. This is how good Duke's recruiting is right now in basketball. K did that one year with Zion and Cam Reddish and those guys. He had the one, two, three, so it has been done. So I'm looking at the Rivals. They signed three of the top five coming in players and also number 20, Mark Mitchell.
So four five-star players in the class of '22. And in the class of '23, he's already got two five-star players. Now granted, you run through them quick. But going forward, I would expect that this will just be-- this will continue to be an onslaught. I mean, he's just loading up. Jon Scheyer has to be just a decent coach, and they're going to be really good.