No, this isn’t a late April Fool’s joke.
You read it correctly. Patrick Tapé, one of the most coveted players in the transfer portal, decommitted from Duke, nine days after his initial pledge.
It’s not often that a player decommits from such a high-profile program. While Tapé’s decision is a stunning one, there are a couple of possibilities why the 6’10 senior re-opened his recruitment.
Tapé certainly would’ve had to battle for playing time at Duke. He would be pitted against Duke’s three incoming forwards Henry Coleman, Jaemyn Brakefield, and Mark Williams, along with Matthew Hurt and/or Vernon Carey if they return to college. Williams is the true center in Duke’s 2020 class, a seven-footer whose stock rose high enough during his senior year at IMG Academy that some now consider him to be a one-and-done. With Williams’ arrival and Carey’s uncertain future, Tapé wouldn’t have been a lock for a featured role on the Blue Devils.
Duke could’ve also changed its mind. Tapé was one of the first big names to enter the portal, and now that more and more players are seeking changes of scenery, the Blue Devils might’ve wanted a different prospect. Former Illinois guard Alan Griffin is in the portal. Griffin’s younger brother Adrian is a five-star recruit in the class of 2021 and verbally committed to Duke. While rumors circulated that Alan removed Duke from his shortlist, the Blue Devils might’ve made another push for his commitment, knowing that the elder brother’s pledge would secure the younger’s.
Since Duke is now off of Tapé’s list, Syracuse is back into play. And SU desperately needs help down low. Tapé, an agile five with back to the basket skills and playmaking ability, is a great fit for the zone and in Jim Boeheim’s isolation offense. He can score in multiple ways and even handle the ball if needed. Tapé would be SU’s starting center from day one because of his versatile offensive repertoire and developed frame (and ability to not foul out). Having a veteran down low would also be a great learning experience for Jesse Edwards and John Bol Ajak. While the Columbia transfer’s pledge won’t push the Orange to the top of the ACC, Tapé is an all-conference talent who could make the difference between winning close games and falling short (i.e. this year’s loss to Duke).
Before his initial decision, Tapé was also considering Ohio State, Maryland, and Georgetown. Maryland lost senior Jaylon Smith, and OSU’s starting center Kaleb Wesson recently entered the NBA Draft. Both teams now only have young, inexperienced bigs, almost guaranteeing a starting spot for Tapé. Georgetown is a bit confusing, seeing that the Hoyas have three rostered centers, two of which received good minutes behind now-graduated Omer Yurtseven. However, playing for Patrick Ewing must have a certain allure for big men.
Tapé plans to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning, and from his list of schools, wants to stay on the East Coast and do so. He also is looking for a winning program, something all the aforementioned schools (at one time or another) have been, and could be next year with his help. Right now there is no information regarding his next move, but let’s hope Syracuse sticks in Tapé’s list.