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Top South Florida prospect Vernon Carey picks Duke

David Wilson, Miami Herald on

Published in Basketball

MIAMI -- Vernon Carey, perhaps the greatest basketball prospect South Florida has ever produced, is joining the Duke Blue Devils.

The five-star center from University School made his college choice Thursday in a ceremony televised live on ESPN from Davie. The senior picked Duke over the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michigan State Spartans, his other two finalists.

Carey made his announcement sitting behind a row of hats from the three schools. He pulled a Blue Devils handkerchief out from a chest pocket inside his jacket and declared he would be, "joining the brotherhood" with coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke.

"I just felt like Duke is the best fit for me," Carey said after making his announcement Thursday. "Just Coach K and just the guys they're bringing in. Hopefully, other players in the class will join me."

Carey's commitment is another major win for the Blue Devils, which landed three top-five prospects in the Class of 2018. Carey is the No. 2 player in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the Class of 2019. He joins four-star small forward Wendell Moore and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis as top-50 prospects already committed to Duke this cycle.

Carey said he didn't make his decision until the morning of his announcement, which came at about 12:40 p.m. He set Thursday as a commitment date as a way to honor his maternal grandfather. Vincent Banks, who played basketball at Carol City and with the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, introduced Carey to basketball and died a year ago Thursday.

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The athletic lineage in the Carey family, however, comes from football. Vernon Carey Sr., the prospect's father, was a standout offensive lineman for the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins. Carey Jr. committed himself to basketball instead after being introduced to the sport by his grandfather. He chose to commit Thursday because it is the one-year anniversary of his grandfather's death.

"Before we knew this was going to be the day, we were dreading this day," said LaTavia Carey, the prospect's mother, "but when he decided, 'Mom, I'm going to commit on Dec. 6,' it gives us something to look forward to every year now."

Jimmy Carr, Carey's high school coach, said he knew the decision would come down to the Blue Devils and Michigan State, although he didn't know until Carey made the announcement.

It doesn't surprise Carr, however, to see Carey pick Duke, which is the subject of "Earn Everything," a documentary series produced by ESPN and streamed on ESPN+. The Blue Devils have already spent time this year as the No. 1 team in the nation and currently sit at No. 3. Freshmen Zion Williams, RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish could be the top three picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

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