KINSTON, N.C. — In March, Kinston wing Brandon Ingram told USA Today that he never envisioned himself being uncommitted this late in his senior year, but, in hindsight, he was “glad that it worked out like this” because it forced him to give stronger looks to schools in order to make the best possible decision.
On Monday evening he stepped to the podium at his school, stylishly dressed in a black tux, white shirt and black bow tie, and did just that, picking Duke over North Carolina State, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and Kentucky.
Back in March, Ingram also said he “probably” would’ve already committed to North Carolina had they not been under NCAA investigation.
“I feel like it was a blessing in disguise,” Ingram told USA Today during McDonald’s All American week in late March. “Once I started to really look at other schools I saw that I wasn’t really sold on any one school. I actually grew up a Duke fan.”
Less than a week ago the Blue Devils landed five-star point guard Derryck Thornton, a friend of Ingram’s who hails from Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).
Thornton will reclassify from 2016 to 2015 and play with Ingram next season.
Both will join Franklin (Franklin, Ohio) shooting guard Luke Kennard, Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) center Antonio Vrankovic and Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) center Chase Jeter to form Duke’s 2015 recruiting haul next season.
Ingram, Jeter and Kennard were McDonald’s All Americans; Thornton would’ve almost certainly been named to the game had he stayed in the 2016 class. That gives Duke its second No. 1 recruiting class in as many years.
The defending champs could start a lineup that would give them a legitimate shot at repeating in Thornton, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Ingram and Amile Jefferson with Marshall Plumlee, Kennard, Jeter, Vrankovic and Rice transfer Sean Obi coming off the bench.
This past season Ingram, who is ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 100, averaged 24.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.0 blocks and 1.6 stealsa game.
He led the Vikings to their fourth-straight state title in March and, arguably, had the best showing of any player at McDonald’s All American practices where players tend to be more competitive than in the game.