Incoming Duke basketball star dares Michigan State forward

Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

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.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding Jalen Johnson and all things Duke basketball.