Amile Jefferson: What Prized Recruit's Commitment to Duke Blue Devils Means
Amile Jefferson decided where he would play his college basketball today, and the McDonald's All-American chose Duke.
Jefferson addresses the major need of Duke for an athletic defender and an offensive option who can slash through the lane.
This decision on the day before the regular signing-period ends for college basketball recruits changes the landscape of the ACC and the college basketball world as a whole.
With just two more days left for recruits to decide, we thought we knew how the 2012-13 college basketball season would play out. However, with Jefferson's commitment we now need to repaint that picture.
Jefferson is a long, lanky combo-forward. He is listed as a power forward, but he is too skinny to bang down low at the next level. However, he is athletic enough to play small forward.
Jefferson is at his best when he is attacking the basket. Despite being small he can still finish through contact, and his long arms help him to adjust his shot in midair. He can also get up and finish over most big men.
On defense Jefferson's length disrupts opponents, and his athleticism allows him to stick with most small forwards. He also can block shots because of his timing, and he is a superior area-rebounder.
Jefferson needs to add some muscle before he can bang down low, but for now his focus should be on improving his jump shot. He is a jumper away from being a true small forward, and if he wants to play the position in college and the NBA he needs to improve his consistency and range.
Duke didn't have much of a recruiting class before Jefferson picked them, with only SG Rasheed Sulaimon coming to Durham next season.
Sulaimon is a great scorer who will be used to drive to the basket and shoot threes, but the team needed a player like Jefferson.
Sulaimon made my list of the top 50 incoming freshmen, as did Jefferson.
Jefferson made the right decision by not picking North Carolina State because he has a bigger role at Duke.
Mark Gottfried would have had to split time between small forwards T.J. Warren and Jefferson since both are among the top 30 recruits in the country, and neither would want to red-shirt. However, at Duke, Jefferson will be used much more than he would with the Wolfpack.
Duke's recruiting class just got a whole lot better.
Jefferson gives the Blue Devils two recruits in the Top 25 and a very talented tandem. Add in red-shirts Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, and Duke could have three or four great seniors in three years.
The recruiting class will also enter my next recruiting class rankings, most likely securing the No. 13 spot on the list.
Duke was fading from the ACC picture, but the Blue Devils are now back in the mix. Adding Jefferson gives this team multiple scorers and the athletic defender that they needed.
North Carolina State lost out on Jefferson, but the Wolfpack is still to be feared in ACC play. Arch-rival North Carolina loses four starters to the NBA, but the Tar Heels are still dangerous.
These three teams will find themselves atop the ACC standings. The only question is in what order they will be in when all's said and done.
In terms of the Top 25, Duke was ranked around No. 15 to No. 20 by most analysts. However, the addition of Jefferson addresses a few major needs, which will have the Blue Devils moving up in the standings.
Where does Duke belong in the preseason poll with the addition of Jefferson?
While they are still nowhere near Indiana and Louisville for the No. 1 ranking, the Blue Devils are now around No. 10 in the country, fighting with North Carolina for positioning.
After coming off one of the worst NCAA tournament losses in school history, Duke will be in position to make a run next season.
I see Duke finishing second in the ACC standings, although they will pass arch-rival North Carolina, which will certainly ease the pain of finishing one spot away from an ACC crown.
Once the team makes it to the NCAA tournament we will see them make a run to the Elite Eight.
Mike Krzyzewski is an excellent coach, and he will have his guys ready. Duke truly lacked an athletic player like Jefferson last year, and Sulaimon will easily replace Austin Rivers. These two will help Duke make a good run in the Big Dance next year.
Overall, it's been a good day for Duke fans.
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