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Star forward Brandon Ingram picks Duke, spurns North Carolina

Five-star forward Brandon Ingram chose Duke over North Carolina.

About a week after adding a five-star point guard to its 2015 recruiting class, Duke landed a five-star prospect at another position. Small forward Brandon Ingram announced on Monday that he has committed to the Blue Devils. He chose Duke over Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Carolina State and UCLA.

Ingram shone during the senior postseason All-Star game circuit, which began with a 15-point, five rebound performance at the McDonald’s All-American game on April 1. Since then, he reportedly conducted in-home visits with every one of his finalists other than UCLA, including Duke two times.

The Blue Devils became an even more appealing option for Ingram when Derryck Thornton reclassified to the class of 2015 and committed. “It impacts [my decision] a lot,” Ingram recently told ESPNU of Thornton’s pledge. “That was one of my main concerns coming in looking at the particular schools, so it impacts it a lot.”

Ingram is 6'9", 196 pounds and possesses a 7'3" wingspan, according to measurements compiled by the scouting website DraftExpress. While scouts say there is room for Ingram to develop physically, he has the length and offensive skills to project favorably at the college level and in the NBA.

As a senior at Kinston, Ingram averaged 24.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.0 blocks and 1.6 steals while shooting 57 percent from the field, according to MaxPreps. He led the Vikings to their fourth consecutive state championship and was named North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball.

[via YouTube user CityLeagueHoopsTV]

Ingram will join a Duke team coming off its second national championship in six years. The Blue Devils already figured to enter next season on the short list of championship contenders in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the additions of Thornton and Ingram over the last week elevates expectations.

Though it lost three freshmen stars in point guard Tyus Jones, forward Justise Winslow and center Jahlil Okafor to the NBA, Duke returns rising sophomore guard Grayson Allen, rising junior guard Matt Jones and rising senior forwards Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. They also add Ingram, Thornton, five-star guard Luke Kennard, five-star center Chase Jeter and Rice transfer Sean Obi.

While Ingram turned down several blueblood programs, his decision to attend Duke will especially sting for North Carolina fans.

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Not only are the Blue Devils and Tar Heels bitter, longstanding rivals, but there also seemed to be a strong chance at one point that Ingram would choose North Carolina. He played for former UNC All-America Jerry Stackhouse’s grassroots program and attends the same high school, Kinston (N.C.) High, as both Stackhouse and Reggie Bullock, who starred for the Tar Heels from 2010-13.

In March, Ingram toldThe Charlotte Observer that he probably would have made a verbal commitment to North Carolina last November if the Tar Heels had not been implicated in a widespread academic scandal that is still under investigation by the NCAA.

Ingram raised eyebrows when, in the same interview on ESPNU, he said North Carolina has received “the allegations” on April 17. Many interpreted that as meaning UNC had received its notice of allegations from the NCAA, but a UNC spokesperson denied that was the case.

Whatever the meaning of Ingram’s comments, it’s clear the uncertainty over the academic scandal in Chapel Hill affected this battle for the state of North Carolina’s top prospect in the class of 2015. Now that Ingram has chosen Duke, there are three players ranked in the top 10 of the Rivals150 who remain uncommitted: Jaylen Brown (No. 3), a 6'7" forward from Georgia, Cheick Diallo (No. 5), a 6'9" forward from New York, and Thon Maker (No. 7), a 7-foot center from Canada.