ACC

Duke’s 2020 basketball recruiting class gets another boost with DJ Steward commitment

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski cuts down the net after Blue Devils’ clinched the ACC Tournament championship game with a 73-63 victory over Florida State on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski cuts down the net after Blue Devils’ clinched the ACC Tournament championship game with a 73-63 victory over Florida State on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Its incoming freshman class having finished outside the top two in national recruiting rankings for the first time since 2013, Duke is positioned to return to the top in 2020 after adding a top player on Wednesday.

DJ Steward, a 6-3 combo guard from Chicago, used his Twitter feed to announce his pledge to play for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils next season.

Steward joins fellow five-star recruits Jalen Johnson, a 6-8 small forward, and Jeremy Roach, a 6-2 point guard, in Duke’s 2020 recruiting class, which is now ranked No. 2 nationally by 247sports.com.

Duke brought classes rated no lower than No. 2 nationally five consecutive years from 2014-2018, finishing with the top-rated class four of those seasons.

The current freshmen — 6-10 forward Vernon Carey, 6-9 forward Matthew Hurt, 6-5 forward Wendell Moore and 6-5 guard Cassius Stanley — comprised Duke’s 2019 class that was rated No. 3 nationally.

Steward’s commitment put Duke back on track to challenge for the No. 1 class again.

DJ Steward shoots up in the rankings

Rated the No. 26 player nationally, Steward shot up the rankings to earn a five-star rating this summer with strong play at the Nike EYBL summer league. He averaged 24.1 points while playing for Illinois-based Mean Streets, hitting 50.8 percent of his shots overall (including 40.6 on 3-pointers).

Steward visited Texas prior to coming to Duke last weekend. After his campus visit to Durham, he canceled a visit scheduled for Louisville this weekend to make his Duke commitment on Wednesday.

Steward attends Chicago’s Whitney Young High School, the same school where All-American center Jahlil Okafor graduated before helping Duke to the 2015 NCAA championship as a freshman.

With Steward and Roach, Duke has a solid backcourt arriving for the 2020-21 season. Roach, from Fairfax, Va., is rated the No. 20 player nationally and the No. 3 point guard.

Johnson, at No. 6 nationally, is the highest-rated player currently in Duke’s class.

With those three players committed, Duke can now focus on adding the front-court players the program needs. Carey and Hurt are both projected to be one-and-done players who will leave the Blue Devils after this season. Javin DeLaurier, a 6-10 foward, is entering his senior season for Duke.

The Blue Devils remain solidly in the running to land 6-10 center Walker Kessler, a five-star player from Atlanta, and 7-foot center Mark Williams, a four-star recruit from Norfolk.

Henry Coleman, a 6-6, four-star power forward from Richmond, has Duke among his finalists. He plans to make his recruiting choice on Sept. 27.

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
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