Duke, NC State in showdown for post prospect Jefferson

0 Comments

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried has all but cleaned up on the recruiting trail, and don’t think that in-state rivals haven’t taken notice.

Now that Gottfried has locked up three top 75 prospects in the Class of 2012, it appears Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has fired off a metaphorical recruiting flair, just to let the Wolfpack know that the Blue Devils are still lurking.

Amile Jefferson, a top 25 player from Philadelphia, has been offered by Coach K and Duke and there is “mutual interest,” but “no timeframe yet” on a decision, according to Clint Jackson of Rivals.com.

Jefferson has been the apple of Gottfried’s eye for a while, and the Friends Central (Penn.) senior visited campus back in November. He is branded as a power forward, but at a lanky 6-7, 190 pounds, he may be suited better as a college small forward, provided he continues to develop his ballhandling skills and works to extend his game to reach further out from the basket. That could be made easier for him, considering his impressive basketball IQ.

Krzyzewski has a relatively young team this season, with center Miles Plumlee as the only senior, but the Blue Devils would have two scholarships open, assuming Austin Rivers leaves for the NBA. (Some think junior Mason Plumlee also may bolt for the NBA.)

Having already signed five-star guard Rasheed Sulaimon, the Blue Devils have strong interest in the nation’s best player, Shabazz Muhammad, along with elite big men Ricardo Gathers and Tony Parker.

The timing of this offer becomes more interesting when one considers the power moves recently made by schools in pursuit of Muhammad and Gathers.

Over the past few days, UNLV, in strong contention for Muhammad, added Pitt transfer Khem Birch, and St. John’s, to whom Gathers was once committed, brought in Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch.

Jefferson visited Duke back in 2010 and, as Clint Jackson reported, citing Jefferson’s father, there is mutual interest.

If nothing else, this move by Duke shows how Gottfried is slowly changing the politics of recruiting in North Carolina.

Yes, NC State has caught some big fish in the past. Look no further than the Class of 2010, with CJ Leslie and the now-Kentucky-bound guard Ryan Harrow for that. But, for 2012, Gottfried has scored three in-state stars and is trying to turn the Tar Heel State into a three-horse race, again.

Whether Jefferson ultimately ends up at Duke or not, it’s clear that NC State can now compete with (and, in some cases, beat) the Blue Devils.

Welcome back to the big show, Wolfpack.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_