The Arizona Wildcats might get a crack at Duke on the floor next week in New York, but the Wildcats lost a major recruiting battle Thursday when Houston wing Justise Winslow chose the Blue Devils.
Then again, everybody lost to Duke when it came to this year’s fall recruiting class.
Winslow’s choice, which the five-star wing announced during a live-streamed event at St. John’s School, only solidified what is the consensus No. 1 class, which also includes big man Jahlil Okafor, guard Tyus Jones and wing Grayson Allen.
Arizona’s four-man class is being rated in the top five except by ESPN, which has the Wildcats eighth.
In a statement, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was “ecstatic” about the players Duke signed and called Winslow a great wing player.
“He is a guy that can guard every position and is an amazing rebounder and scorer,” Krzyzewski said.
Winslow, a longtime target of the Wildcats, chose Duke over UA, UCLA, Texas A&M, Florida and Stanford. He choked up several times as he thanked a long list of supporters, then grabbed a Duke hat and finished his speech.
“Without further ado, next year I will be attending Duke to play for Coach K,” Winslow said.
Winslow was then showered with Silly String before the webcast was shut off. Afterward, St. John’s AD Vince Arduini said the webcast generated 16,000 hits, and more than 3,000 people were watching the stream when Winslow made his announcement.
Winslow’s tearful speech “sort of defined what type of kid he is,” Arduini said.
“It’s always a hard choice,” Arduini said. “We wish him well.”
Winslow’s decision means Arizona will finish its fall 2014 recruiting class with four players: forward Craig Victor, guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, guard Kadeem Allen and wing Stanley Johnson.
Johnson is a top-10 player in the class of 2014, Victor is a Top 30 player, Jackson-Cartwright Top 60 and Allen is a returning all-American junior college player.