Jalen Duren, 2022’s No. 1 prospect, mulls reclassifying to 2021 and could play college basketball this season
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Among the more widely discussed topics at this year’s Nike EYBL showcase: the looming decision for No. 1 2022 prospect Jalen Duren.
Will he soon no longer be a 2022 prospect? That is the expected outcome, according to multiple sources. Duren is mulling a reclassification to 2021, but getting there will be a challenge. Still, what’s clear, per sources, is that Duren likely will not be attending Montverde Academy, where he would have been a senior, or any other high school in the fall.
If he plays college basketball, it would be for the 2021-22 season — but he’ll need to have his high school transcript in good standing to make that happen. Since graduating from high school in 2022 is no longer the planned course, Duren will take one of these three paths in the coming weeks:
1. He successfully reclassifies, clears college eligibility and plays as a freshman this fall
2. He doesn’t qualify for reclassification, can’t get into college in 2021, turns pro
3. He successfully reclassifies, but opts not to play college anyway, turns pro
Duren is currently in the process of attempting to complete summer coursework in order to get his transcript in good standing so that he can be cleared for college enrollment, should he decide to go that route. Kentucky, Miami and Memphis are the finalists. Some believe that Miami, which hired one of Duren’s former Team Final coaches (DJ Irving), should be regarded as the leader. CBS Sports polled multiple college coaches and NBA personnel on hand at Nike’s premier grassroots event in South Carolina. The collective response from those people put Duren at about 60% to play college basketball.
Nevertheless, courting from professional leagues continues to be aggressive, and if Duren is going to put high school behind him by the end of the summer, he’ll become the first prep prospect with a high-profile decision to make in this new age of amateur player empowerment. Do you turn pro immediately and sign for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million? Or do you choose college and seize an opportunity to capitalize on name, image and likeness in college sports’ fledgling economic landscape?
If Duren picks Miami, there could be big NIL potential there. A company recently agreed to pay every member of the football team $6,000 for the season. A player like Duren would clearly garner a lot of marketing and sponsorship opportunities. And yet, there is also the endgame of being drafted and making it to the NBA. Despite his rise to No. 1, overtaking the long-hyped Emoni Bates, Duren has some limitations on the court. He’s listed at 6-foot-10, but in reality is a shade over 6-8 and in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. Without a reliable perimeter shot, and with some lack of dominating aggression around the rim on both ends, one high-major coach posited Duren going to college would be a mistake.
“He’ll get exposed,” the coach told CBS Sports. “If I was advising him, there is no chance I would ever let him go to college.”
Another power-conference coach disagreed, believing Duren’s best days would likely come as a one-and-done player, whereas his role in the NBA could be much more limited. Three comparisons tossed around by evaluators while watching four of his games this weekend were: Cliff Alexander, Bam Adebayo and Derrick Favors. He’s powerful, but clearly a center at the college level.
This week’s championship event, the Nike Peach Jam, will provide Duren with another set of opportunities in front of NBA scouts and college coaches to show his skill set. It will be the climax of his high school career, and signal a change for his grassroots team as well. Sources said Team Final coach James Johns will be leaving the program to be an assistant at Fairfield in the coming weeks.