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Cal Basketball Recruiting

Duke Brennan Talks Recruiting, Playing Style

June 17, 2021

Hailing from Arizona sports feeder city Gilbert, Duke Brennan‍ shares the same hometown with a few players that have committed to donning the blue and gold in recent years, including incoming recruits Kai Millner‍ and Hunter Barth‍, as well as outgoing transfer Spencer Brasch‍. A player for one of the best high school basketball programs in the nation, Brennan has the advantage of playing against some extremely talented competition at Hillcrest Prep, and at 6’10, he’s not even the tallest player on his team.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always been taller. But as we get into these higher level sports programs, I have to add to go out to the four or five range because, as you know, we have like seven footers on my team. So I began extending my range, getting my shot down and getting my handles down and driving. So since I was young, I was playing those center positions. But now I've kind of worked my way out to the power forward position.

When you think about hoops in the greater scheme of things, you wouldn’t necessarily imagine barren Arizona as a location of top interest and talent, but in recent years, the Grand Canyon State has been putting itself on the basketball map with many teams competing on a national stage, notably: the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, and Grand Canyon Antelopes. Hillcrest completes that list on the high school level, having sent 60 players in the past decade with full scholarships to college basketball programs, notably DeAndre Ayton and Kyree Walker in recent years.

As a player for Hillcrest, Brennan has had to hone his skills and diversify his game in order to fit into a dynamic unit. Growing up, he was always one of the tallest players and would often assume the center position, but playing at the highest level with Hillcrest, he has had to learn to take on other roles in order to compliment his gifted teammates.

“Every single guy on that team is really good at the game, so we just bounce off each other. All these players are just making us and each other good. So, you know, we learn off each other. We start to learn their game, they learn our game, and yeah, it just elevates the whole play of the game.

If he were to compare himself to an NBA player, Brennan thinks his basketball doppelganger would be Mason Plumlee of the Detroit Pistons.

“A lot of people say I look like Mason Plumlee, and I play like Mason Plumlee, Tyler Hansborough too. But, Mason is my Dukie. I like to play like him.”

A high-motor big like the Duke University alum, Brennan likes to make his presence known down-low for the Bruins.

“I’m a really hard hat guy. I bring it everywhere on the court. And coaches like to say I have a high motor. I'm getting rebounds on the floor. And I really use that high motor against my opponents to get rebounds, get putbacks in, elevate, and really use my energy throughout the whole game. I really bring it hard down low in around the free throw line. But you know, I also have range. I also have some range so I can go past the free-throw line.

“I’m very patient with the ball. If you give me the ball, I can see the court really well. I’m tall so I can see the court when people cut off each other and down the lane. I’m a good passer too. I can also drive and hit my open guys. If they’re on the corner three far I can do a long ass pass out to them. My passing skills are pretty high too, so I like to say I’m a good passer.

At a recent summer showcase, The Pangos All-American Camp, which brings in top talent and scouts from around the country, Brennan broke top 60 and performed exceptionally well in a game that featured Cal targets 5-star PG Keyonte George‍ , 5-star PG Rickie Isaacs‍, 5-star SG Zion Cruz‍ and other formidable recruits. In the game he recorded a team-high 17 points on 7-9 from the field and 3-3 from the free throw line. He clearly isn’t scared of the limelight.

Playing with the Oakland Soldiers over the summer, Duke Brennan is no stranger to the Bay Area. As a member of the formidable EYBL team, he plays alongside other Cal targets Christian Watson‍  and Joseph Hunter Jr.‍ Brennan is a fan of the Bay Area, and says that his favorite place to eat is “Dos Coyotes” in San Ramon. “One Chicken Ranchero Burrito and your life will never be the same.”

Playing on the west coast, Brennan has had his eye on the Pac-12 for a while.

“The Pac-12 has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” said Brennan when referring to his reaction to getting an offer from Cal. “I’m looking for a good team where I can work within a solid coaching staff that likes me and thinks I can do really good at their school.”

With specifc regards to the Bears, Brennan says he “loves the weather, the coaching staff, and ‘Dos Coyotes.” 

“The Pac-12 is a great conference. Like we saw some really good schools get far into the tournament this year. But hopefully we can make Cal one of them.

“I would say a lot of the Pac-12” is recruiting Brennan really hard. “Cal is a big one. I just got the offer from them. They’ve been talking to me really hard. ASU is also a big one, and then Wake Forest in the ACC has been talking to me a lot, and really wanting me to get on campus, Mississippi and Georgia too.”

In terms of starting potential at the next level, Brennan says that the speed at which he can break into the starting lineup “does factor in.” He adds that his relationship with the coaching staff does matter, but “I really want to play at the start.”

In terms of playing style, Brennan likes to play fast.

“I really like the high-pace offense,” and in the offense he runs with the Oakland Soldiers, ”we have two bigs and I can really see myself as a four. It really opens up my full ability on the court. So I really like that. I can also play in all different kinds of offenses, but the high-pace offenses I really like because I get up and down the court pretty well. I have a pretty good high motor, so the push offense I really like too.”

Duke Brennan is rated as a three-star recruit, the number eight player in Arizona, and number eight center in the nation per He carries offers from 15 total schools, including Arizona State, Georgia, Seton Hall, and a handful of non-Power-5 programs.

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