Kyrie Irving put on a blue ball cap and announced that he is committing to Duke on ESPN-U on Thursday evening.
But Irving wouldn't lobby his friend, Harrison Barnes, to join him in committing to the Blue Devils.
"I'll let the Duke coaching staff handle that," Irving said on ESPN-U.
Barnes, a 6-foot-6 forward from Ames, Iowa, who's rated the top player in the Class of 2010 by scout.com, is visiting Duke this weekend. Irving, a point guard from St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., is rated No. 5 overall in the class by scout.com.
Irving’s other finalists were Texas A&M and Kentucky. A 6-foot-1 player who’s known for scoring and setting up his teammates, he said he has a great relationship with the players and coaches at Duke.
“When I went on my official visit, it felt like home,” Irving said. “And it’s the place for me.”
Irving joins 6-8 Josh Hairston of Spotsylvania, Pa., and 6-2 Tyler Thornton of Washington, D.C., in Duke’s class.
If Duke also lands Barnes, it would solidify its highest-rated class since the Josh McRoberts-led Class of 2005 group that was rated the best in the nation by some analysts.
The Blue Devils have failed to land some of their top targets in recent years as players such as Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Greg Monroe (Georgetown) and Kenny Boynton (Florida) have committed elsewhere. Meanwhile, rival North Carolina has emerged as a recruiting power with two NCAA titles in the last five years under coach Roy Williams.
But Irving gives Duke its most highly regarded recruit since McRoberts and perhaps its best point guard prospect since Chris Duhon in the Class of 2000. Adding Barnes would immediately make Duke a top contender for the 2011 Final Four, but the Blue Devils face stiff competition for him.
Barnes visited North Carolina for the Tar Heels’ alumni game and Kansas for its practice-opening celebration. He plans to visit UCLA next weekend and take an unofficial visit to Iowa State, which is in his hometown. He also has visited Oklahoma.
“The process for him has been very methodical,” said Ames High coach Vance Downs. “He’s just very patient, takes his time, looks at all his options and then will eventually find the right fit for him.”
Downs said Barnes is improving on the court as he weighs his school decision. He is shooting and handling the ball better, and attacking the basket more on a straight line.
By the time Ames begins practice Nov. 16, Downs said, Barnes plans to announce a decision. It sounds like he will be able to do it without pressure from Irving.
“Harrison, he’s like a big brother to me, and we talk all the time,” Irving said. “Mainly, it’s not about Duke. He’s his own man, and he’s going to make his own decision, and whatever decision he makes, I’m going to be happy for him.”
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