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With one of their AAU coaches on board, could Duren and Williams follow?

Jalen Duren
Jalen Duren

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Montverde Academy (Fla.) has a couple of the nation’s top basketball prospects in 5-star center Jalen Duren and four-star point guard Justice Williams.

The Miami Hurricanes, along with numerous other top programs around the nation, have offered and recruited both for months.

Now, though, Miami might have gained an advantage over the other programs.

DJ Irving.

As CaneSport reported Wednesday afternoon, Irving is taking over Adam Fisher’s spot as a UM assistant coach. And Irving coached both players with Team Final, which is one of the nation’s top AAU programs. A Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware program, Team Final has produced former Hurricanes Lonnie Walker, Davon Reed and Jaquan Newton.

So where do the Canes stand with Duren and Williams?

“Miami has always been on their radar,” said AAU Team Final coach Wayne Jones, who has coached with the program since 2013. “They’ve been recruiting them for quite a while, since Adam Fisher was there. Both are pretty wide open, trying to build relationships with schools.”

As for the potential impact of the Irving hiring with the Canes’ chances, certainly the coach has a great prior relationship with both.

But at the same time, the l duo will be going through the recruiting process with all options open.

“They have a great relationship (with Irving),” Jones said. “I think in any situation a kid is always going to look at the school and do what’s best for them, but it always helps when you’re recruiting a kid that knows you.

“DJ is going to do a great job recruiting any kid, not just them. He works hard, good energy, great dude. He knows what he’s doing. And I know he has our program supporting him. He’s going to be a coach that rises fast up the ranks.”

So what’s at stake with the two stellar prospects?


Duren is compared by many to Chris Webber. And Jones says he also sees some of Amar'e Stoudemire in him.

“Jalen is so special,” Jones said. “I’ve coached him since eighth grade. Jalen, of course he’s bigger and stronger than most people. People just think Jalen is big, but he’s extremely athletic, extremely tough. High basketball IQ, a great passer - that’s his most underrated thing. And people don’t realize how good a teammate he is. He’s a leader.”

As for Justice, Jones says his play is reminiscent of Shai Alexander.

“Their games are real similar,” Jones said. “They both play really smooth, on the ball, off the ball. He has a wiry frame. And his work ethic is second to none. He’s always in the gym, always willing to learn, very coachable. It’s hard to say anything besides gym rat. Justice can do it all, can play off the ball, on the ball. High level IQ kid, student of the game. The sky is the limit.”

The big question of course, is if both or either could wind up at Miami.

They are not making the decision as a package deal, with each seeking the best circumstance for their futures.

Would Jones be surprised if either wound up at UM in the end?

“I would not be surprised at all,” Jones said. “It’s a great family atmosphere there.”

And, of course, their former AAU coach is now on board.