Amile Jefferson, the No. 25 recruit in the nation according to ESPN.com, announced his commitment to Duke Wednesday. The 6-foot-9 forward had also been considering Kentucky, N.C. State, Villanova and Ohio State, among others. To read our initial post on his announcement, go here.
Andrew Beaton and Brady Buck sat down to talk about the impact of his signing for the Blue Devils for this edition of Chron Chat.
Andrew Beaton: So, Brady, were you surprised when you heard him announce he chose Duke?
Brady Buck: I was a little bit surprised that he announced Duke based on the number of 2013 scholarship offers out by the Blue Devil coaching staff. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, has pursed Jefferson very aggressively this spring. And when I spoke to Amile on the phone in February after he received an offer from Duke, he spoke very, very highly of the program and school. So, it does not shock me that he’s coming to Duke.
Furthermore, he’s a kid that highly values academics as he attended a prestigious private school in the Philadelphia area.
Andrew, how do you see Jefferson fitting in on next year’s team?
Beaton: Since his announcement lots of people have made the comment that he in many ways may end up like Josh Hairston 2.0, a comment that is apt in some senses but doesn’t completely tell the whole story.
Jefferson has the potential to be an impact defender and rebounder immediately for Krzyzewski, two things he values highly.
Buck: I agree. Additionally, I feel Jefferson’s length, versatility and defensive prowess are attributes that should allow him to get playing time as an underclassmen. Jefferson is far from a finished product though. He needs to get considerably stronger in order to have a big impact at the next level. He only weighs 190 lbs., while standing over 6-foot-8.
Beaton: For sure, and I think a lot of that physical maturation will need to come on the offensive end of his game. But it will certainly be interesting to see how playing time is divided in this year’s frontcourt. Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will clearly grab the most minutes as seniors, with help from Josh Hairston who will be a junior and Marshall Plumlee as a redshirt freshman.
None of those players, though, bring the skillset Jefferson offers, which could be crucial after a season in which many pointed to rebounding as an issue, especially with small lineups that include Kelly, who is a perimeter threat but not a physical threat on the boards.
Buck: Let’s not forget, redshirt freshman Alex Murphy could easily see some time at the four spot when Krzyzewski wants to play a three-guard lineup with four on the perimeter.
After missing out on several big 2012 targets, Duke has gotta be happy with landing Jefferson this late in the year to avoid a one-man 2012 recruiting class. Both he and Rasheed Sulaimon are kids of extremely high character and genuinely love Duke.
Beaton: And, I think it has to be big psychologically for the program too. This is the first commitment they’ve received since losing to Lehigh in the first game of the NCAA tournament. Duke will always be a top program, but losses like that have to make recruits uneasy, and getting a top recruit after that shows that the best players aren’t scared away by that one loss.
Buck: Absolutely. And since the loss to Lehigh, it’s been an offseason filled with mostly bad news–Michael Gbinije transferring, Andre Dawkins’ uncertain status for next season and Austin Rivers bolting for the league after one year. Jefferson’s commitment tonight helps alleviate some of the pain.
Beaton: It’s true, and after Jefferson’s drawn out recruitment, the stars really aligned for him to come here and there is no doubt it’s a major win for Krzyzewski and the staff.