By Wade Peery
When I tuned into the ESPN National High School basketball showcase in May, like any other recruiting fanatic, I was fired up to see the nation’s top basketball stars.
The one man who stood out above the rest and by a large margin was Jalen Duren of Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida.
There’s a reason that scouting services like Rivals.com have him ranked as the #1 overall prospect in America. When you get tabbed as the #1 player in America, let’s just say you better dominate and dominate for most of the game.
Duren lived up to the hype and then some.
He honestly is one of the best prospects
I have seen in a really, really long time.
Duren’s star continues to rise, as he was just named MVP of the Pangos All-American camp in Las Vegas.
(Visual evidence below)
One of the nation’s BEST Jalen Duren won MVP at the Pangos All-American camp ? @PangosAACamp pic.twitter.com/irTqHWVSiD
— Overtime (@overtime) June 9, 2021
Capped off a successful road trip with a @SportsCenter Top-10 play from junior Jalen Duren ?@espn pic.twitter.com/DGDpidhfNu
— Montverde Academy Basketball (@MVABasketball) January 19, 2021
Jalen Duren is the basketball college basketball prospect since Zion Williamson of Duke in my opinion, and it’s not even close. If John Calipari and Kentucky get this kid, look out.
If Michigan and Juwan Howard get him, they could have a new Fab Five on their hands.
But several other teams are in the running (see graphic below), and reports have stated he is considering reclassifying to the 2021 class from his original 2022 target.
To complicate matters further, Duren has also reportedly been offered a $1,000,000 contract to play in the G-League, believe it or not.
With his athleticism, maturity, skills and physicality, it’s easy to see why, even though I still think he’ll end up in the college game, quite possibly for the Wildcats in Lexington.
Duren is just a grown man on the hardwood, despite the fact that he’s technically still a teenager. He looks like he’s playing with kids in the rec league. Nobody can stop him when he goes up for a dunk.
He’s also got surprisingly good handles for a 6’10, 230 pound big man.
I love the sheer power and force he dunks the basketball with on some of his alley oops. I also think he’s underrated as a passer.
I really love the way he runs the length of the floor, too.
Check out his highlights below courtesy of MaxPreps:
The dunks and alley oops are nice in these highlights — for sure.
But I think the part that really blew me away in this brief highlight package was the sheer power and force which Duren spiked down on the basketball when he blocked the two shots. He’s just so much stronger than everyone else at the high school level.
There’s nobody remotely close that can stop him.
He’s stronger and more college ready than former Michigan State recruit Emoni Bates, giving him the leg up as the number one prospect in my eyes.
When the #2 ranked HS player in the US steals the ball from the #1 ranked player in the US and dunks it…it looks like this! #midwestmania #madehoops #teamfinal #jalenduren pic.twitter.com/MPOxdeCxA9
— Kim Conaway (@KimConaway2) April 25, 2021
The number 1 player in the land Jalen Duren had a strong show out last night @PangosAACamp x @BallerTV pic.twitter.com/xzl0PXxM5c
— Theovisuals (@theovisuals9) June 7, 2021
It was really, really enjoyable watching this kid lead Montverde to a National Championship in the tournament, alongside fellow five-star and Michigan recruit Caleb Houstan.
Check out his Final 11 options in the graphic below courtesy of TiptonEdits, one of the best to do it in the high school recruiting game.
He also has been in constant contact with Michigan lately, and the Wolverines could score an official visit.
But Kentucky seems to be the favorite here.
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Is Jalen Duren Kentucky Bound…Or Headed for the G-League?
Duren is going to visit Kentucky during the last week of June.
On that official visit, he’s set to be accompanied by Keyonte George, the top ranked shooting guard in America.
Duren has also planned official visits to Miami and Memphis. You’ll also notice the National Basketball League logo in the graphic, which means Duren could go pro and play in either Australia or New Zealand. He’s also said publicly in interviews that he doesn’t care about the money. The G-League is also an option for Duren.
Many recruiting analysts are thinking Duren will turn pro after his senior season at Montverde. It’s looking like Kentucky is making a strong push to make sure that does not happen.
He’s stated in recent interviews that he wants to be developed as a basketball player. If he wants that, then going to the G-League would be an unwise decision in my eyes.
The G-League’s coaches are nowhere near as good as college basketball.
That’s the big trump card that college hoops has over the G-League at this moment. College basketball coaches are just better at developing players overall.
It’s not even close, really, and Duren would benefit by playing under Coach Calipari or Juwan Howard for a year.
I’ve also seen quotes from Duren that have said in order for him to go to college–that a school is going to have to really WOW him.
I think he’s handling the recruitment process as well as someone his age can. He’s a young man who sounds like he’s going to make his own decision regardless of outside influences. Good for him.
Judging by the current news, I’d say he either is a one-and-done at Kentucky or he goes pro to the G-League or NBL.
As a fan of the college game, obviously, I’d love to see him suit up in college for a year and then go pro. It certainly wouldn’t hurt his development to play college basketball for a year.
One thing’s for sure: we need to cherish our time watching these guys while we have it.
Kentucky could make a deep run in March Madness next year with Duren if he does end up reclassifying, and it would be epic to watch him suit up in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else, ladies and gents.
College hoops fans got to see that this year with a prospect like Cade Cunningham.
I think the majority of college basketball fans were super grateful he decided to play one year of college basketball, instead of turning pro. The same will happen with Duren, if he decides to go to Lexington or another school for a year.
Either way, this kid is destined for absolute superstardom wherever he goes on the basketball court. There aren’t many times where I gladly accept the fact that a player can turn pro coming straight out of high school. Duren is THAT good.
He’s got to put on about 20-30 pounds of weight for the next level, but he’s got time. It’s terrifying to think how good this kid will be once he adds that 30 pounds to his frame.
Duren is undoubtedly one of my favorite prospects I’ve gotten to watch on a basketball court in a really long time. Basketball fans should feel blessed to get to witness a talent like his.
I’m incredibly excited to see where he ends up playing basketball next. That’s the multi-million dollar question everybody wants to know.
Will he go pro or will he go to college? It’s tough to tell when he will make a decision but my guess is he won’t drag it out just for attention.
Fans and coaches alike anxiously await, but in the meantime let’s enjoy the rest of this kid’s high school basketball career. The kid is a mind-blowing talent.
#JalenDuren could be the guy to lead @KentuckyMBB back to the promised land. A true man amongst boys out there #SECBasketball #Recruiting pic.twitter.com/peGWhpzbDx
— ForgottenSportsHeroes (@SportsForgotten) June 10, 2021