Ranked as the No. 36 overall prospect by Rivals.com, Philadelphia-based forward Amile Jefferson is one of the most highly-coveted college basketball recruits still on the market. Jefferson has narrowed his choices down to six schools, and while all of them are certainly elite programs, there are some that are more sensible than others.
Jefferson figures to make an immediate impact wherever he goes, but he may not necessarily be looking to attend a school that gets him ready for the NBA right away. Since he isn't a top 10 recruit in the class, he may be more likely to stay in school for a couple years rather than jumping ship right away. With that in mind, Jefferson has a lot to consider.
Here are the three best destinations for Jefferson for both this season and beyond.
After reeling in three top-flight recruits in Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren, and Tyler Lewis, the N.C. State Wolfpack appears as though it will be a major contender this season and in coming seasons as well. In addition to all of the young talent N.C. State has brought in, star forward C.J. Leslie decided to return to a team that surprisingly made it all the way to the Sweet 16 this past season. Even without Jefferson, the Wolfpack appear to be a top 10 team for 2012-13.
Adding Jefferson to the mix would make N.C. State even more dangerous, though, as it would have a ton of depth and skill in the frontcourt, in addition to a dynamic backcourt. Not only would Jefferson have a chance to contribute and win this year, but if he decides to stay in school, then he will be a go-to guy within a season or two.
The Duke Blue Devils disappointed in a big way this past season as they were eliminated by Lehigh in the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. With leading scorer Austin Rivers leaving for the NBA, they are in a state of flux. There is still a lot to like with players like Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and the Plumlee brothers in the fold, but there is no doubt that they could use an infusion of young talent. The lengthy and athletic Jefferson would provide exactly that.
As is the case with N.C. State, Jefferson likely wouldn't be the main man right away at Duke, especially with Curry entering his senior season. However, there is no doubt that he'll be used effectively in Coach K's offense. He won't necessarily be expected to be a physical presence in the paint since the Plumlees are mostly responsible for that, and it will allow him to focus on his offensive game and flourish.
No program over the past few years has done a better job of developing freshmen and making them into instant stars than the Kentucky Wildcats under head coach John Calipari. The Wildcats were largely made up of freshmen and younger players two seasons ago and they made it to the Final Four. The same was true this past season as they won the national championship. With Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, in particular, entering the NBA draft, the Wildcats need some help at forward.
They did well to nab prized center prospect Nerlens Noel, but they lost a ton of depth, so there is no question that Jefferson would be a big addition for the Wildcats. Unlike some coaches, Calipari has no reservations about playing younger players if they represent his best option, so Kentucky would be a great spot for Jefferson to play early and often. It does seem like the Wildcats are building from the ground up, though, so there may be some growing pains involved.