Jalen Duren has committed to the Memphis Tigers and will reclassify into 2021, he announced Friday on Twitter. The Kentucky Wildcats, NBA G-League and Miami Hurricanes were among his other finalists.
Despite a strong push from John Calipari and Kentucky, Duren was widely expected to pick Memphis coming into his decision, and there’s been significant buzz he’ll team up with Emoni Bates to play for Penny Hardaway next season.
Duren is a 6-foot-10, 230-pound physical specimen who was previously the No. 1 overall recruit in 2022 via 247 Sports and Rivals. The newly-debuted On3 rankings had him ranked third overall.
For the last several months, even before his reclassification, the general feeling surrounding Duren’s recruitment was that he’d opt to play professional basketball relinquishing his NCAA eligibility.
However, the new NIL rules will now allow Duren to make a large sum of money in college, which ultimately helped sway him to pick Memphis over professional options.
I personally saw Duren play a few years ago when he was just 15 years old.
Trust me when I say that it took several people sitting near me and a quick google search to truthfully embrace the fact that he was just 15 years old. His physical maturity was and remains out of this world.
One more time. This kid is 15 years old. pic.twitter.com/1YMocUbAHI— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) December 19, 2019
It doesn’t take a scouting guru to walk into any gym where Jalen Duren is present and immediately know who the best prospect is.
Although he’s currently playing as a man among boys, getting Duren on a tactful plan to add some additional strength to his frame over the next few years will be impactful regardless of where he’s playing basketball.
Currently listed at 230 pounds, there is room for adding some muscle, but he’s currently strong enough to command respect in the paint at virtually any level. Again — this guy is a complete man-child capable of humbling anyone his age.
Recently, Duren was named MVP of the Pangos All-American camp where he dominated his opponents with ease. He also went on to lead his AAU team, Team Final, to a Nike Peach Jam championship while playing alongside fellow Kentucky recruit Dereck Lively.
After watching his play at Pangos, Eric Bossi of 247 Sports wrote some strong words about Jalen Duren.
“Duren has always been physically dominant and in terms of strength and athleticism and multiple NBA scouts told 247Sports that they believe he could play minutes, today, in their league. It is hard to argue against that. A big-time athlete with strength, Duren set the tone early with his beastly play around the rim as a rebounder, shot blocker and emphatic dunker. But it was the pair of spot-up threes and some high-level passing and basketball decisions that had everybody on hand buzzing. Others may have scored more, but nobody was more impressive with their minutes than Duren was in a 16 point and 10 rebound outing.” Bossi wrote.
NBA scouts saying he could play minutes in the league today?
Well — ok then.
That’s a powerful statement, but it’s important to keep in mind that Duren isn’t going to initially blow you away with his polished offensive skill-set, at least not right at this stage in his career. He’s an extremely explosive finisher and a great passer out of the post, but he’s not yet a finished product.
Much of the potential he shows on offense is already on full display defensively, although it’s hard to get a true measuring stick considering just how much bigger and stronger Duren is than his typical opponents.
As for Kentucky, missing out on Duren, emphasizes how important the return of Keion Brooks and Lance Ware were to go with the additions of WVU transfer Oscar Tshiebwe and Class of 2021 5-star big man Daimion Collins.
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