NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Make no mistake about it, D.J. Steward was plenty upset.
Going winless in the biggest tournament of the summer, the Nike Peach Jam, doesn’t exactly provide a stroke to the ego.
“I just hate to lose,” said Steward, a point guard for MeanStreets (Illinois). “It was a tough week.”
That said, Steward said he’d be “lying” if he said he didn’t scurry off to check his phone Friday evening when Peach Jam was over in anticipation of texts from college coaches extending scholarship offers.
Hundreds of coaches park on the sidelines at Peach Jam, evaluating elite players to see if they’re turning in a performance worthy of an offer.
Makes sense for Steward to be eager after averaging 20.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists for Mean Streets this week.
“I knew I played pretty well,” said Steward, a rising senior. “Coaches had been staying in touch with me through texts all week, so I wanted to see.”
By Saturday morning he’d received a personal offer from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“Coach K text me and asked me if I had time to talk,” Steward said. “When we talked he said he loved how I played, how I competed and what kind of teammate I was; then he offered me. It was pretty exciting.”
In addition to the Blue Devils, Steward said that Kentucky and North Carolina have come on stronger this week. He already holds offers from Notre Dame, Louisville, Texas, Indiana, DePaul, Illinois, Northwester, Iowa, Iowa State and Georgia Tech, among many others.
“It’s just a blessing to be in this position,” said Steward, who hails from Whitney Young High School (Chicago). “I’ve got a couple more tournaments and then I’m gonna weigh some things out and probably cut my list down and line up some visits.”
The last time Duke offered a player from Whitney Young was Jahlil Okafor; he committed and led Duke to the national title a year later.
Steward is aware of the history and said he plans to pick Okafor’s brain in the near future.
“My coach was Jahlil’s coach too, so he’s gonna get us together so I can talk to him about Duke,” Steward said. “’I’ve played pickup games with him at the gym sometimes so being able to talk to him about everything would be big.”
Duke already has one five-star point guard locked up in the same class in Paul VI High School’s (Fairfax, Virginia) Jeremy Roach, who is coming off a torn ACL back in November.
Steward said his presence “doesn’t bother me at all.”
“All of the coaches see me as a combo guard, and that’s how I see myself,” Steward said. “It doesn’t matter to me where I play. It doesn’t matter who is there, I love playing with great players, and if there’s another point guard there I think that can be a good thing.”
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