Duke and Michigan State are going down to the wire for a couple of five-star recruits.
Class of 2019 big men Vernon Carey Jr. and Isaiah Stewart are both uncommitted, and both are considering the Blue Devils and the Spartans among their finals schools. Their decisions could have an impact on future Final Fours and NCAA championships.
The 6-foot-10 Carey, out NSU University School (FL) and Nike Team Florida, is set to announce Thursday, with one source close to the recruitment saying Carey is "really torn" and it's going to be a "photo finish" between Duke and Michigan State. Carey is ranked No. 3 in the 2019 ESPN 100. He recently cut Miami and Kentucky from his list, and North Carolina technically remains part of his current list.
His most recent official visit came to Michigan State, where he seemed to bond with head coach Tom Izzo.
MSU visit was fun this weekend 🤙🏾 pic.twitter.com/DdoLCiaUd0— Vernon Carey Jr. (@vernoncarey22) November 11, 2018
“I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I’m leaning between two schools," Carey told the Detroit Free Press. "It’s really between two schools.”
Carey said former Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr. has been recruiting him, and that he has bonded with Izzo.
“I feel like I can trust Tom Izzo,” Carey Jr. said. “That’s most important to me. I feel like I can trust him.”
Vernon Carey Sr., who played football at Miami, is also an Izzo fan.
“I remember the first time we were on campus,” the father told the Free Press. “I said, ‘Hey, if (Izzo) is going to coach my son, I’m OK with it.’ I respect him a lot."
Both Duke and Michigan State currently have two class of 2019 commits, and Carey could be the tipping point.
Duke has pledges from point guard Boogie Ellis and wing Wendell Moore, while Michigan State has commitments from point guard Mark "Rocket" Watts and wing Malik Hall.
Both Duke and Michigan State would also love to add Stewart, the 6-9 big man from La Lumiere (IN) and the Albany City Rocks ranked No. 5 in the class of 2019. He is also considering Washington and Syracuse, among others, but has yet to set an announcement date. He took his final official visit to Duke.
Stewart told USA Today that Ellis, Moore, and Watts have all been in his ear about joining them at their respective schools, while he has also talked with uncommitted guys like Carey, Cole Anthony of Oak Hill Academy (VA), and Jaden McDaniels of Federal Way (WA) about teaming up.
"Of course the committed guys like Wendell and Boogie and Rocket want me to come to their schools,” Stewart said. “But with the other uncommitted guys we just talk about maybe playing together and what we like about the different schools. I just want to play with the best.”
If Carey picks either Duke or Michigan State, it wouldn't necessarily rule that school out for Stewart, either. So fans of those schools can dream of a 1-2 punch down low.
“We can get each other better,” Stewart said. “I played with Vernon at Team USA and I know what type of player he is; we complement each other really well. At the end of the day, I’ll make the best decision for me no matter who’s there or who’s coming.”
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