Published 4:02 pm ET December 6, 2018 |
Vernon Carey, the country's No. 2 basketball player for 2019, announces which college will attend Thursday, December 6, 2018 in Davie, Florida.
Chris Nelsen, a Detroit Free Press special
DAVIE, Fla. – Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo was relentless in his search for the great 5-star man of 2019 Vernon Carey Jr., wrestling with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for prospect n. 2 of the nation's high school.
On Thursday afternoon, however, those efforts were not rewarded.
Carey, a senior of 6 feet 10 kilos and 260 pounds at the University of Fort Lauderdale (Florida), verbally engaged in Blue Devils during a nationally televised event at his school, giving Krzyzewski another high-profile talent and leaving a big gap in MSU's 201U recruitment class.
"It was mainly between MSU and Duke," Carey Jr. said a few moments after the announcement. "I feel like Duke was the right person for me, the way they would use me over Michigan State."
More: 5-star Vernon Carey Jr.: "I can trust Tom Izzo"
The Duke has long been considered the favorite to land Carey, although the Spartans have made a strong push to the end. He said he spoke with Izzo on the phone on Tuesday, and he did not make a final choice until Thursday morning.
"It was probably the most difficult decision of my life," said Carey. "It's a commercial decision, for the most part."
Player number 2 in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, Carey made three visits to East Lansing during his recruitment, most recently for the MSU football match against Ohio State.
"Izzo is an exceptional guy, we have built a very good relationship with him," said Vernon Carey Senior, who traveled with his son to East Lansing for each visit. "We respect Izzo and the Sparticanti."
Elderly Carey did not know her son's choice until a few hours before Thursday's ceremony, broadcast live on ESPN.
"He was very close, believe me," said Carey Sr.
While Izzo has attracted the elite of the national outlook for East Lansing first – the NBA lottery picks up Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. among them – Carey's verbal commitment would have probably come down as his most impressive score recruitment.
"Those guys did an incredible job," said Jim Carr University coach about MSU recruitment. "They did everything they could, they rocked very, very hard, I do not think the state of Michigan has ever recruited a kid from this area before, but they're welcome to have more boys."
Despite having chosen the Blue Devils, Carey said he would recommend the Spartans to other top recruits. His university teammate, forward Scottie Barnes, is one of the nation's best juniors. Barnes said he spoke with the MSU coaches "a couple of times" during Carey recruitment.
"There are no bridges burned against (MSU)," said Carey, who intends to enter the NBA 2020 draft.