Peoria basketball standout picks Duke over Illinois, Arizona

Updated: November 5, 2003, 8:32 PM ET

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Central All-Stater Shaun Livingston, who is considered the nation's second-best high school prospect by many recruiting analysts, is headed to Duke to play basketball next year.

The 6-foot-7 point guard said Wednesday he picked the Blue Devils over Arizona and Illinois because of the team's style of play and a relationship with coach Mike Krzyzewski that started during his sophomore year.

"I feel that Duke's system and their style of play will fit in great for me, with the freedom that he gives to the guards," Livingston said.

Livingston is an "awesomely well-rounded player" and the top point guard in this year's recruiting class, said Tim Watts, editor of, which analyzes college basketball prospects.

"He sees the floor so well. He's a guy who gets the whole team involved, literally," Watts said.

Livingston said it was "seriously tough" to turn down Illinois, which made a late push to bring the Peoria standout to nearby Champaign.

He said the Illini faced an uphill battle after Bill Self left to coach Kansas and was replaced by Bruce Weber. He said he was torn because of support from fans, as well as his long relationship with Illinois assistant Wayne McClain, who coached at Peoria Manual.

"There were all kinds of people counting on me to come to Illinois. Like I said, they're not going to school ... so I've just got to make the best decision for me," Livingston said.

Watts said Illinois fans shouldn't judge Weber's recruiting skills based on Livingston's decision.

"He had a lot of ground to make up and the only thing he had going in his favor was that it was a home state school," Watts said.

Livingston said he will sign with Duke when the early signing period begins next Wednesday but didn't close the door on jumping straight to the NBA if teams show interest before next spring's draft.

"I can't really predict the future but it also depends on what kind of season I have. If I have that type of season, I'll look into it a lot more," he said.

Livingston led Peoria Central to a 31-1 record last year and its first Class AA state championship since 1977. He also was named MVP of last summer's NBA Players Association Camp in Richmond, Va.

Livingston averaged 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals a game and was named to the All-State team as a junior last year.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index