A high school senior with the tools to become an instant Duke basketball sensation has now offered a crystal-clear response to his future fanbase's lingering doubts about his arrival.
Duke basketball prize Jalen Johnson used two slides of his Thursday Instagram stories to address a question that has been floating around ever since the five-star left IMG Academy (Fla.) more than a month ago for undisclosed reasons. On one such slide, his self-inquiry was direct: "So let's put the rumors to rest, will you be a Blue Devil next season?"
Below the question, the No. 6 prospect on the 247Sports 2020 Composite displayed a picture of the Johnson family in Duke gear from his signing day in November. Finally, below the picture — as if that wasn't sufficient — rather than a yes or no, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward answered the question with a six-figure percentage: "100000%."
News last week of Johnson's intention to re-enroll at Nicolet High School (Glendale, Wis.), where he attended his junior year, extinguished any chance he might have held to argue his eligibility for June's NBA Draft (one of the rumors that had picked up steam the past few weeks).
However, due to his inner circle staying tight-lipped ever since the oddly sudden departure from IMG, some concerned fans had still been wondering if Johnson would have to seek some option other than what would likely be a one-and-done layover in Durham (with a smooth game and top-shelf confidence that draw comparisons to former Duke basketball stars Grant Hill and Shane Battier, the 18-year-old has the potential to become a 2021 lottery pick).
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But now giving fans even more confidence that his future includes being a Blue Devil — at least for next season — Johnson's Thursday Instagram stories also contained a slide with an alternate phrasing of the above question and answer (with a relieved-face emoji at the end):
- Q: "Still coming to Duke?"
- A: "I'll be in Durham in June😌"
So while the IMG matter looks to remain a mystery to everyone other than Johnson and those who actually need to know the facts, now that the centerpiece of the Blue Devils' currently six-deep 2020 class has reaffirmed his membership in #TheBrotherhood, next season's Duke basketball roster again looks to be in tip-top shape — other than maybe needing one more big man should freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt both bolt after this season.
Assuming all goes to plan from here, Johnson will arrive on campus alongside Paul VI Catholic (Va.) five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, Whitney Young (Ill.) five-star combo guard D.J. Steward, Trinity Episcopal (Va.) four-star power forward Henry Coleman, Huntington Prep (W.Va.) four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield, and IMG four-star center Mark Williams. At the moment, no other seniors hold Duke basketball offers.
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Also on Thursday, Roach, Steward, and Williams landed on the roster for the McDonald's All-American Game on April Fools' Day in Houston.
Johnson was not eligible to receive the prestigious honor because he has not played at all as a senior. His dad, Roderick Johnson, a former productive 6-foot-6 forward who played two seasons for Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the late-1990s before transferring to Southeast Missouri State, informed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that his son has not yet decided whether he'll try to join Nicolet's squad for the remainder of this season.