Voila, the Duke basketball season opener just became a bit more intriguing.
Evidently, 2020 Duke basketball signee Jalen Johnson is not shy when it comes to ribbing his future opponents. However, somewhat surprisingly, the staff in Durham hasn’t yet — at least not at the time of this article’s publishing — seen to it that the prized incoming recruit delete the trash-talking Thursday tweet he directed at Michigan State forward Joey Hauser.
The tweet, which seems to have gained Johnson even more favor among his future fanbase while drawing support from a few of his fellow Duke basketball freshmen-to-be, stems from the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward’s tweeted assertion on Wednesday that his 2018-19 Nicolet (Wis.) squad was “THE BEST team in Wisconsin history.”
First, despite Johnson’s “Don’t @ me” request in his initial tweet, Wisconsin native and West Virginia rising junior guard Jordan McCabe did exactly that — also bringing into the fold Hauser, another product of The Badger State — and issued a direct challenge:
Hauser then stoked the fire by implying neither Johnson nor McCabe is even worthy of being in such a debate. In response, the future Blue Devil decided to look ahead to the scheduled season opener against the Spartans at the Champions Classic in Chicago on Nov. 10, putting forth this dare:
Should the Duke basketball rookie be careful what he wishes for?
A brief reply from Hauser soon followed: “That’s a given.” Well, adding in the heightened interest that comes from any meeting between Hall of Fame head coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo, one thing’s now certain: the next Duke-MSU matchup won’t be short on alluring storylines.
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Johnson, a five-star who ranks No. 12 overall on the 247Sports 2020 Composite and boasts a grown-man physique to go along with impressive versatility, is a prime candidate to serve as the Blue Devils’ top weapon next season.
Likewise, Hauser, a former four-star recruit who sat out last season due to his transfer from Marquette after averaging 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman, could be in line to anchor Michigan State’s attack (especially if Xavier Tillman keeps his name in the NBA Draft). Of note, his older brother, Sam Hauser, is a sharpshooter forward who transferred from Marquette at the same time as Joey and will face Duke in ACC play next year as a fifth-year senior for Virginia.
Unfortunately, it’s not yet time to get the popcorn ready, as there are still 152 days left — sheesh — until Johnson and Hauser are set to square off for what is shaping up to be a must-see duel. Duke, coming off a 25-6 campaign, and Michigan State, a 22-9 team last season, are both likely to be either inside or just outside the top 10 in the initial AP Poll.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding Jalen Johnson and all things Duke basketball.