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Josiah James picks Tennessee over Duke and Clemson

One of the biggest surprises in the 2019 class.

USA Basketball

The Tennessee Volunteers just beat the Duke Blue Devils for a recruit (and Clemson too).

On Wednesday, five-star point guard Josiah James announced his pledge to the Vols. This was a recruitment in which Duke was the heavy favorite in for much of the way, but Clemson had gotten a lot of buzz recently and was expected to be the pick today.

So when James announced his pledge, it was a major surprise and further proved Tennessee is here to stay in terms of national prominence. The Vols have a top-10 team entering the upcoming season, but Rick Barnes has clearly established a program that will remain a contender for the years to come.

That’s great for the SEC, as it gives the league more national respect and recognition since Kentucky can’t just run through the league like we’ve often seen under John Calipari. Competition brings the best out of everyone, and the SEC is at an all-time high in terms of competition from top to bottom.

James, who is ranked 14th overall in 2019 by 247 Sports, was even a recruit that Kentucky was interested in over the summer, but an offer was never extended, so he eventually cut the Wildcats. They’ll now get to face him for at least one year in college.

As for Duke, they still don’t have a commitment in 2019 after also losing Bryant Antoine to Villanova recently. It’s safe to think the loss of Jeff Capel has damaged their recruiting efforts a lot more than people realized.