Illinois men’s basketball was in early on the recruitment of Whitney Young standout DJ Steward. The Illini were the second high-major program to offer the 6-foot-3, 165-pound guard in August 2017.
Steward’s breakout performance on the Nike EYBL circuit this past spring and summer changed his recruitment. Averaging 22.9 points, 5.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds for MeanStreets, Steward’s recruitment hit the blue blood level with offers from Duke and North Carolina.
Illinois made what turned out to be Steward’s final cut of eight teams in early August, but the allure of Duke won out. Steward committed to coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils on Wednesday afternoon.
“I love this game of basketball, the competition and the camaraderie of being on a team,” Steward said in his commitment video posted to Twitter. “More than anything, I’m obsessed with winning. When I factor all of these things, there’s one university above all that checks each of these boxes. I am humbled, honored and overjoyed to become a member of the brotherhood and play for Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils.”
Steward is ranked as a five-star prospect by both 247Sports and ESPN and a four-star recruit by Rivals. The former two rankings put him at No. 26 nationally in the 2020 class, while Rivals has him at No. 31.
He was a News-Gazette First Team All-State selection last season, averaging 24.3 points and 3.2 for the Dolphins, who reached a Class 4A sectional final before falling to eventual state runners-up Curie.
Duke now has the No. 2 class in 2020 behind Kentucky. All three of the Blue Devils’ commits are five-star recruits, with Steward joining 6-8, 215-pound IMG Academy (Fla.) wing Jalen Johnson and 6-2, 180-pound Paul IV Catholic (Va.) point guard Jeremy Roach. Johnson, a Wisconsin native who also had an Illinois offer, is a consensus top 10 player in the class.
Illinois does not yet have a commitment in the 2020 class. The Illini’s full attention now turns to Adam Miller. The four-star Morgan Park guard is set to start his official visit in Champaign on Friday.