Amile Jefferson’s commitment is badly needed good news for Duke

Jeff Eisenberg

In the midst of a discouraging offseason featuring early defections, unfounded transfer rumors and a flurry of misses on high-profile recruits, Duke finally received some badly needed good news.

The Blue Devils landed power forward Amile Jefferson, the lone unsigned consensus top 40 recruit in the class of 2012.

Jefferson, a 6-foot-7 McDonald's All-American from Philadelphia, chose Duke over ACC rival NC State, Kentucky, Villanova and Ohio State. Duke made him a priority after the early signing period and put on a full-court press after fellow elite power forward Tony Parker chose UCLA over the Blue Devils.

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What Jefferson provides Duke next season is a perfect frontcourt complement off the bench to starters Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. Whereas Plumlee is a traditional back-to-the-basket big man and Kelly is a spot-up shooter, Jefferson brings athleticism, length and an ability to score off the dribble that is largely missing from Duke's roster.

The addition of Jefferson to a recruiting class that previously included only guard Rasheed Sulaimon is both a talent and morale boost for Duke. On the heels of an already disappointing first-round exit against Lehigh, the Blue Devils lost Austin Rivers to the NBA draft, learned Andre Dawkins may redshirt the season and failed to land Parker, Shabazz Muhammad and transfer Jordan Clarkson, among others.

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While North Carolina or NC State is probably still the favorite in what may be a down season in the ACC, Jefferson's presence figures to ensure the Blue Devils remain a contender at the very least.

They lack athleticism or lateral quickness in the backcourt again this year, but they do have a bevy of shooters who cannot be left alone, especially if Dawkins is available. And the frontcourt is deep and talented between Plumlee, Kelly, Jefferson and even redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee.

Jefferson needs to put on weight to reach his full potential, but he'll still have the chance to make an immediate impact. He's a likely rotation player next season and a potential centerpiece thereafter.

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