Five-star SF Jalen Johnson commits, echoes Duke basketball yesteryear

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Hours before 4th of July fireworks, another 2020 five-star announced his decision to call Durham home, sparking memories of a few former Duke basketball greats he resembles.

Grant Hill’s game in Shane Battier’s body. Or, for those who prefer more recent Duke basketball comparisons, imagine the combined strong suits of Jayson Tatum and Cam Reddish.

The resulting vision should look a lot like the off-to-a-hot-start-for-2020 Blue Devils’ latest prize, five-star small forward Jalen Johnson from Milwaukee (Nicolet).

Interrupting those of us Dukies at July 4th cookouts — the notification on the phone instantly making the food ten times sweeter — Johnson revealed his decision to join #TheBrotherhood via a tweeted video, joining five-star point guard Jeremy Roach to give Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski the envy of all 2020 classes at the moment.

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Only one 2020 five-star other than Roach and Johnson has committed: center Day’Ron Sharpe to UNC.

Though Johnson did not give specific forewarning in recent weeks — other than tweeting hours beforehand that an announcement was coming “at any moment” — comments he had made about his decision timeline in the past, along with praise he had consistently sent Duke’s way since picking up an offer from Coach K around this time last year, gave Ball Durham reason to believe two days ago that good news from the Johnson camp was on the horizon.

SEE: Blue Devils may soon snag second 2020 commitment

Duke beat out three other programs comprising his final four: Arizona, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.

The No. 4 overall prospect among rising seniors on the 247Sports Composite, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Johnson is a smooth operator who has the skills and confidence to at least adequately fill any position — even at the college level.

He’s not the most athletic five-star. Nor is he the best shooter. Nor does he possess the most jaw-dropping length. That being said, he’s still awfully impressive in each of the above categories.

He is a likely one-and-done — marking Duke’s eighth straight year landing at least one top-six recruit — who has drawn heavy Blue Devil interest since he was a freshman; he did so by developing an on-court presence that seems to give him the innate ability to dictate the flow of games.

He is a centerpiece-of-the-lineup kind of guy who finishes in traffic with ease and finds open teammates both in transition and in the halfcourt with his superior vision and whizzing passes.

Every step he takes seems instantly yet meticulously calculated.

Plus, he comes equipt with a body type that could hang with bigs in the post if need be.

And it might just be that he turns out to be a vital piece for Duke as a multipositional piece to the 2020-21 puzzle in Durham — as the roster could include less than a handful of returning players with the potential of zero returning big men.

Simply put, Johnson is trustworthy anywhere on the hardwood.

As if it were Hill or Battier or any of the other names hanging from Cameron Indoor Stadium’s rafters, knowing Johnson’s name will be a part of a lineup in Durham should give Duke basketball fans both a sigh of relief and sense of excitement.

ALSO READ: Jalen Johnson admits package deal is possible

Maybe — but only dreaming — Johnson will end up loving Duke so much that he decides to stick around long enough while winning enough to hang his name next to those legendary names from yesteryear.

An early and unforgettable 4th of July fireworks celebration for Dukies.

Yes, indeed.

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