5-Star SF Jalen Johnson Verbally Commits to Duke over Kentucky, Arizona, More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2019

Photo Credit: Evan Flood, 247Sports

The Duke Blue Devils made a major splash on the recruiting trail Thursday when they landed small forward Jalen Johnson for their 2020 class. 

Johnson told Evan Daniels of 247Sports he was picking Duke over Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

"I picked them because how much of a priority I was for them and the potential they see in me," he said. "It was just a different vibe that I got with them, and it was just great since my first conversation with them."

Johnson checks in at 6'8" and 215 pounds and is a 5-star prospect, per 247Sports' composite rankings. He is also the No. 4 overall player, No. 1 small forward and No. 1 player from the state of Wisconsin in the class.

His ability to contribute in a number of ways stands out, especially for a forward.

He can get out in transition and fill the lanes, rebound from the wing, slash into the paint, finish above the rim, shoot from the outside when defenders honor his penetration and facilitate for teammates when help shifts his way.

What's more, his length allows him to dart into passing lanes and bother perimeter shooters on defense.

"What I like about Jalen is his versatility," Daniels told Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader. "He's pushing 6'8" and he can handle the ball. He's a really good passer. He can play some with the ball in his hands. He can play on the perimeter. He can play as a face-up 4. There's just a lot you can do with him, and I think his versatility and his passing ability are probably the things that stick out to me the most."

That versatility and overall skill set caught the eye of college basketball royalty during the recruiting process, including Duke and Kentucky.

The Blue Devils won the battle for Johnson, which is no surprise considering they are a haven for one-and-done superstars.

Mike Krzyzewski has shown no hesitation toward recruiting playmakers like Johnson in recent years, and the newest addition represents another home run on the trail after he landed the No. 4 overall class in the 2019 cycle, per 247Sports.

Johnson continues that recruiting momentum and gives the ACC school someone who can potentially anchor a deep tournament run in what could be his only collegiate season.

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