It’s admittedly a slow time in the world of college basketball, but shout out to Jalen Duren for keeping things interesting! Reports surfaced late last week that the No. 1 high school player in the class of 2022 may be looking to reclassify into the class of 2021 and play college basketball next season. Everything is far from official, but the report jives with what Duren told KSR’s Jack Pilgrim last week: The next step in his basketball journey will be about development, not chasing money. As for Kentucky, he is planning to visit later this month.
So will Duren actually play college hoops, and if so, will it be next season? Well, it was an issue that we jumped right into on Thursday’s Aaron Torres Podcast (which you can download here), as recruiting guru Jake Weingarten joined KSR’s Aaron Torres.
Torres asked Weingarten straight up: If he had to bet on Duren being somewhere this fall, a high school campus, a college campus or with a professional team, where does Weingarten think he’ll be?
His answer was somewhat surprising.
“If we’re at December 1st,” Weingarten said. I’d say the college route.”
And his logic was actually pretty simple. The fact that Duren is legitimately taking college visits right now is a good thing. It doesn’t guarantee he’ll end up in college, but is promising.
“Look at a guy like Emoni Bates,” Weingarten said. “Like, I think if a guy like Emoni Bates was really, seriously considering college, he would have already visited a college campus. Emoni Bates did say he was going to take his visits, but the fact that he hasn’t yet makes me feel like he’s going pro.
But the fact that Jalen Duren started taking his visits and is continuing to plan more means that he’s really intrigued by the college route. And I said this before, a guy like Jalen Duren might turn around and say ‘I want to win a national championship and be a lottery pick next year’ and play in college against guys that I grew up with.”
No. 1 overall prospect Jalen Duren will take an official visit to Kentucky the last week of June, he tells KSR.
“I’ve got three visits set up right now: Miami, Memphis and Kentucky.”
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) June 7, 2021
Of course while college is one legitimate option for Duren, it’s worth noting that it is far from a done deal. First, we know about the pro options that will inevitably be on the table (if they aren’t already). Beyond that though, is this: Reclassifying is legitimately hard, and there’s no guarantee Duren will want to, or be able to, finish a year’s worth of high school work to enroll in the fall.
As someone who once spoke to Johnny Juzang’s dad about the process, it isn’t easy, and referenced another Wildcat who went through the same process – the late Terrence Clarke.
“Terrence Clarke, God rest his soul, Terrence Clarke had to take six months’ worth of courses in two months to qualify,” Weingarten said. “So that’s something to think about. Is Jalen Duren going to want to sit down and take six months worth of courses in two months so he can reclassify. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it that a lot of people don’t understand, so this will be a thing where we might have to wait to find out.”
Finally, let’s say Duren is able to do the work. The logical next question is simple: Is there a favorite in his recruitment right now. As Jack Pilgrim reported, Duren is planning to visit Miami, Memphis and Kentucky before the end of the month, and could conceivably hit some other schools too. He’s originally from Philadelphia so Villanova is in the mix, and as Michigan, with rising head coach Juwan Howard.
Weingarten was hesitant to name a favorite, simply saying that Miami – with an assistant coach from Philadelphia and one of Duren’s old friends, guard Isaiah Wong on the roster – is in a good spot. So too are of course Memphis, Kentucky and others.
“Miami, I wouldn’t say they’re in the driver’s seat,” Weingarten said. “That’s an exaggeration. But I think Miami is in a good spot. They had a great visit with him, the ties to his old coach. But Miami, Memphis, Kentucky, Villanova, Michigan.”
To listen to the entire interview with Weingarten, where he not only talks Duren, but also other recruiting storylines and the impact of the new staff at Kentucky, you can click here to download on Apple or Spotify or listen below.