Kentucky remains in fight for five-star center Jalen Duren

Jack Pilgrimabout 2 months


Aritcle written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
<small>IG: JalenDuren</small>
[caption id="attachment_357696" align="alignnone" width="1170"] IG: JalenDuren[/caption] The countdown for a final decision from Jalen Duren is now down to just three days, as the five-star center is set to announce his school or professional organization of choice Friday evening, with Kentucky, Memphis, Miami (FL), the NBA G League and NBL left standing as finalists. While the when is nailed down - Duren will announce on Friday at 6 p.m. ET live from the Team Final headquarters in Delaware - the where remains in question. Depending on who you talk to, some folks say Miami or Memphis, fewer say Kentucky or the G League, and just about no one says NBL. Unlike countless other recruiting decisions in recent years, there have been no leaks regarding heavy favorites or finalized decisions, leading to optimism from schools and programs involved that a late run is on the table. Does that mean a late surprise for Kentucky remains a possibility? If you ask those close to the UK program, the Wildcats have a shot. "A lot of national folks believe it is down to Miami and the G League, that's kind of what you're hearing," Matt Jones said on Kentucky Sports Radio during the second hour of Tuesday's show. "But I spoke to a source today around the University of Kentucky program who believes it's down to Kentucky and Memphis. Complete opposite of what everyone else is saying. "National folks are saying Miami or the G League - and I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm just telling you the information - but I spoke to some Kentucky sources and they think it's Kentucky or Memphis and it could go either way." In fact, Jones is hearing that the G League is no longer in the running, leaving Kentucky, Memphis and Miami to fight for the five-star center's services down the home stretch of his recruitment. "I was told the G League is out. Out. Miami maybe a sliver of a chance, but the G League's out," Jones said on KSR. "I'm not saying Miami is out, but I've heard the G League is out. My source thought Kentucky and Memphis are the top two. "... We'll find out Friday, we'll find out who's right. If it's Kentucky or Memphis, I think the national folks knew less about it than the folks here. If it's Miami or the G League, then maybe that's not true." KSR previously reported back in July at Peach Jam that there was growing belief behind the scenes that Duren can be swayed and the door is not closed for any of his five finalists, Kentucky included. One source directly involved with the recruitment told KSR in North Augusta that UK is “right there” in his recruitment and there is confidence within the program they can pull off the late upset. Kentucky’s optimism stems from the fact that it is the only option on his list that has proven it can not only put players of Duren’s caliber in the league, but develop them into max contract superstars, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being the latest example. You simply can’t say the same about Memphis under Hardaway or Miami under Larrañaga, and the jury is still out regarding player development in the G League — the five-star center previously told KSR development would be the biggest factor in his recruitment. Whether the internal optimism is justified or not remains to be seen, but it's there. There are currently no predictions in Duren's Crystal Ball over at 247Sports, while three FutureCast picks have been made in Memphis' favor over at Rivals, all coming in July. Duren, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound center in the class of 2022, is ranked No. 1 overall by both 247Sports and Rivals, with ESPN listing the five-star prospect at No. 2 overall. The native of New Castle, Delaware is widely expected to reclassify and join a college or professional program this fall. Will that program be Kentucky? We'll find out Friday.

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