Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
By ADAM ZAGORIAJalen Duren, the nation’s No. 2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2022, announced his top five options on Friday via Joseph Tipton of On3 Sports.
Duren, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound center from Montverde (FL) Academy and Team Final, is down to Kentucky, Memphis, Miami, the NBA G League Ignite and the Australian NBL.
He cut Villanova, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama, UCLA and Penn State from his previous list. Duren has visited Miami, Memphis and Kentucky in recent weeks.
ZAGSBLOG recently reported Duren is expected to reclassify to 2021, although he would have to do his coursework somewhere other than Montverde because the school does not enable reclassification. He will have a busy summer ahead with visits, Peach Jam (July 13-25) and schoolwork if he goes that route.
Miami recently hired DJ Irving, who coached at Duren’s former school, Philadelphia Roman Catholic, and also worked with Team Final, as an assistant coach. Former Miami standouts Ja’Quan Newton, Davon Reed and Lonnie Walker IV all played for Team Final.
“My first visit was to Miami, and I learned a lot about the program just talking to Coach (Jim) Larranaga and his staff,” he wrote in his USA Today blog. “I like the makeup of their team and the guys that they have there.
“All in all, it was just a great chance to spend some time with the staff and the players and just get to know each other. It’s so hard to do that through Zooms, so it was perfect.”
Memphis has also produced pros like James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa under coach Penny Hardaway, although Wiseman was only there briefly. Memphis is also involved for Michigan native Emoni Bates, who recently decommitted from Michigan State and will team with Duren at Peach Jam.
“I went to Memphis after (Miami) and that’s a place I’ve never really been before,” he wrote.
“I’ve played in tournaments there, but it was really just to the gyms and back to the hotel, so to be able to spend some time in the city was a lot of fun.
“Just being able to hangout with Coach Penny (Hardaway) and his staff and learn about how they changed the culture there was interesting.
“The big thing was they felt like they could teach me how to be a pro and really take my game to another level.
“I definitely had some of the famous Memphis barbecue and I can’t lie, it lived up to the hype!
“I really enjoyed everything about that visit.”
Kentucky has an open scholarship, a need for a big man and a track record of producing NBA big men like Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins and Nerlens Noel, among others.
“I spent a lot of time just getting to know Coach (John) Calipari and the staff and spending time with the players,” Duren wrote. “We had a lot of fun, just kicking it.
“Even though there weren’t as many students on campus with it being the summer and all, I could still tell that the fans are great! Especially on social media, they really showed a lot of love, which was cool!
“I definitely saw how I could fit in there and, more importantly, how I could improve in that system.
“That’s a big thing for me because I’m always looking to get better!”
Duren is currently a projected top-3 pick in he 2023 NBA Draft, but would be eligible for 2022 if he reclassifies.
“Obviously, he’s going to have a lot of options moving forward,” Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said last season.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.