The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team added a highly rated recruit Tuesday with Amile Jefferson. Jefferson picked Duke over North Carolina State, Villanova, Kentucky and Ohio State.
The addition to Duke’s recruiting class prior to Wednesday’s ending of the spring signing period gave coach Mike Krzyzewski the 11th best recruiting class in the nation. Jefferson was the number 25 prospect in the ESPN Recruiting Nation Top 100 and is the second McDonald’s All-American to join Duke in their recruiting class.
High School Career
Jefferson played high school basketball at Friends Central in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, located just outside Philadelphia. During his time at the school, the team went 97-14 and won four consecutive PAISAA state championships. Jefferson was a key component in the team’s success. In his junior season, Jefferson averaged 18.5 points per game. He also pulled down 9.6 rebounds and averaged two blocks per contest.
In his senior season, during which Friends Central went 22-5 en route to their fourth straight championship, Jefferson averaged 19.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He scored 33 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in a 58-55 victory over Academy of the New Church on January 17. In the state championship game on February 18 against league rival Westtown, Jefferson played despite injuring his ankle in the early going. He scored 14 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and had a pair of assists as Friends Central was victorious, 66-47.
For his high school career, Jefferson finished with 1,569 points along with 839 rebounds and 189 blocked shots. He was Pennsylvania’s Gatorade boys’ basketball player of the year in both his junior and senior seasons.
There were many who felt that North Carolina State was the favorite to land Jefferson. At the announcement on Tuesday in the gym of Friends Central, Jefferson’s mother carried a North Carolina State hat in her purse just in case. When asked what led to the choice of Duke, a school that wasn’t even heavily recruiting him until the middle of his senior season.
“Duke is a once in a lifetime opportunity and something you don’t pass up on.”
Jefferson had visited Duke during his sophomore season on an unofficial visit before the school turned their pursuits elsewhere. Jefferson had visited Ohio State, Villanova, Connecticut and North Carolina State in the fall but changed his mind when Krzyzewski, the all-time wins leader in Division I men’s basketball, spearheaded Duke’s late recruiting charge himself.
Jefferson has a bright future ahead of him. He should step in and help Duke with his athleticism and the ability to shoot the ball and score off the dribble. He will be a key reserve to back up starting forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. The team needed more athletic players with the departure of point guard Austin Rivers after just one season at the school.
At 6 foot 8, Jefferson has the height to play multiple positions in college and his seven foot wingspan will prove to be daunting on the defensive end of the floor. Jefferson can score inside and up to 15 feet away from the hoop with regularity, and possesses excellent hands. His ability to run the floor and his on court intelligence are two of his greatest assets. Playing for Krzyzewski will only help him hone those skills further.
He needs to put some weight on, as at 200 pounds, he will be giving away size on the inside. Jefferson also needs to work on his shooting range from outside. He won’t be the focal point right away at Duke, which will most likely be an adjustment for him. If he can put on 15 to 20 pounds and get stronger without losing his quickness, he will be a devastating player as his career goes on.