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Duke scores 4th commit for 2005

Eric Boateng, a center from London, England, committed to Duke Wednesday. The standout from St. Andrew�s High School in Noxontown, Del., chose Duke over Michigan, Georgetown, Virginia, UCLA, Villanova, Boston College and Georgia Tech.

For some Blue Devils, a Duke commitment is the culmination of a painstaking college decision, one that requires hours pondering calls from cajoling coaches and numerous visits to come to a final conclusion.

For others, it is a mere formality; an affirmation of what they—and often everyone around them—expected all along.

For top center Eric Boateng, however, the decision to play for head coach Mike Krzyzewski was a little bit of both.

“Coach K said, ‘Are you pulling my leg?’ Because I’ve taken quite long,” Boateng said of his Wednesday morning verbal commitment. “I was just trying to cover all my bases.”

Despite the time it took him to commit, however, there was never any real doubt as to where Boateng—who had been rumored to be leaning strongly toward Duke for months—wanted to go to school.

“I think Eric has really been interested in Duke in his heart for a long time,” said Bob Rue, Boateng’s coach at St. Andrew’s School in Noxontown, Del. “Just because of the kind of person he is, he was careful about other options. But really, ultimately in his heart he never changed where he wanted to go.”

Michigan, Georgetown, Virginia, UCLA, Villanova, Boston College and Georgia Tech all extended offers to Boateng, ranked the No. 2 center prospect and No. 19 overall prospect in the nation by theinsiders.com. Yet in the end, those scholarship offers weren’t enough to pry him away from Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils. After a trip to London to discuss a possible Duke commitment with his family, Boateng delivered the news to the coaching staff Tuesday evening.

“I was pretty much set on taking some more [official visits] to other schools,” Boateng said. “But on my way home... I thought a lot about it and it was just Duke, Duke, Duke on my mind.”

In the end, the verbal commitment relieved both Boateng and Duke. The English big man described his feelings as “happiness, relief and something to look forward to.”

Krzyzewski excited Boateng about coming to Duke, believing he could become one of the top centers in the ACC, Boateng said. The staff has also asked the center to add some muscle to his frame in preparation for the stresses of college play. Yet Boateng doesn’t focus on any specific angle of his game when preparing for life as a Blue Devil.

“As far as my game goes, I’m learning every day,” Boateng said. “I’m just trying to work on every aspect, my handle, my shot and my post moves. I have a lot to work on.”

Boateng is known for his fancy footwork and fundamentally sound mechanics, but before he makes the jump to college ball, he will have to improve his mental game.

“It really isn’t an issue of a skill weakness,” Rue said. “I think he just has to get used to making decisions on the fly.”

While Boateng will now focus on his upcoming season, the Duke coaching staff will focus the brunt of its recruiting efforts on Snohomish, Wash., power forward Jon Brockman, believed to be the only uncommitted prospect with an official Duke offer.

Brockman said he receives weekly phone calls from the coaching staff and the addition of another big man to the Blue Devil recruiting class does not affect his decision.

“He’s a five player and I’m a four, so it doesn’t really affect me very much at all,” Brockman said Wednesday.

Boateng, a 6-foot-10, 230 pound center, averaged approximately 20 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game last year for St. Andrew’s despite missing half the season with a stress fracture in his foot, Rue said.

Boateng is the Blue Devils’ fourth verbal commitment, joining power forward Josh McRoberts, point guard Greg Paulus and combination forward Jamal Boykin in Duke’s recruiting class of 2005.

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