Once again, Michigan State and Tom Izzo have found themselves coming face-to-face with Duke in a battle for a blue-chip basketball recruit. Vernon Carey Jr announced today that he will be playing college basketball at Duke.
Vernon Carey Jr is a five-star center from Florida and is ranked as one of the top recruits in the nation. The 247Sports Composite rankings have Carey ranked as the No. 2 player in the class of 2019, while the 2019 ESPN 100 has him ranked as the No.3 overall prospect.
Last month, Carey named Duke, Michigan State, and North Carolina his three finalists, but multiple recruiting analysts predicted the decision would come down to the Spartans and Blue Devils. Vernon Carey Jr took to Twitter yesterday to tell the world he’d be announcing his college decision today:
I will announce my college decision at my school, NSU University School tomorrow @ 12 EST!🙏🏾
— Vernon Carey Jr. (@vernoncarey22) December 5, 2018
Carey took three visits to East Lansing, including one last month for the Spartans’ football game against Ohio State. These three visits are in addition to a number of trips from Michigan State coaches to his home and to watch him play throughout the year, in a recruiting process led by Tom Izzo and Dane Fife.
Historically, Tom Izzo and the Spartans haven’t had much success when it comes to head-to-head recruiting against Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils. MSU has been on the losing end of recruiting battles for Jabari Parker in 2013, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones in 2014, and Gary Trent Jr. in 2017.
Michigan State also tends to prioritize recruits from the Midwest, so the focus on Vernon Carey Jr has been a little out of character for the program. With the exception of Alabama native Joshua Langford, every five-star player that has joined the Michigan State basketball team since 2003 has come from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, or Ohio.
Michigan State signed four-star forward Malik Hall during the early signing period. Four-star guard Mark “Rocket” Watts remains verbally committed to the Spartans, but he did not sign a letter of intent during the early signing period last month.
Izzo said last month that he expects to have room for at least four players in this class. The addition of Vernon Carey Jr would have elevated MSU’s recruiting class from good to elite.