The passion for Duke University has always been strong for Rasheed Sulaimon.
That love heightened even more on Wednesday, as the 6-foot-4, 180-pound, four-star combo guard made a trip to Durham, N.C., for a campus visit and the ultimate basketball experience - a college basketball game pitting Duke and arch-rival North Carolina. He loved the experience so much that he made his devotion to Duke public.
Sulaimon became the second Class of 2012 player to commit to the Blue Devils this week. He joins 6-foot-8 forward Alex Murphy out of Massachusetts, who committed to Duke on Monday. Oral commitments are nonbinding, and a 2012 player cannot sign a national letter of intent until November.
Sulaimon chose Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski over Texas A&M, Texas, Arizona and Baylor. He also chose Duke over North Carolina.
"I made my decision officially earlier [Thursday]," Sulaimon said. "My family and I met with Coach K and the rest of the coaching staff. We had about an hour-and-a-half meeting, and after that I met with academic advisers and then had a chance to see the campus life."
Sulaimon added: "Before we all said our goodbyes, I told Coach K I wanted to be at Duke."
Sulaimon said he discussed the decision with family members and Strake Jesuit coach Wayne Jones. He will be the first Texan to sign with Duke since former Fort Bend Willowridge standout Daniel Ewing, who played for Duke from 2001-05. Playing for Krzyzewski was a primary reason why Sulaimon made the commitment to the defending NCAA national champions.
"As a matter of fact, I think Daniel Ewing was the first from Houston," Sulaimon said. "It's just a great honor. I put all thanks to God for all the hard work and dedication. For a school like Duke to come all way down to Houston, it's just a real blessing."
Marland Lowe coached Sulaimon and fellow 2012 standouts L.J. Rose and J-Mychal Reese over the summer as a member of the Houston Hoops. Lowe said Sulaimon always talked about Duke and was honored when Krzyzewski offered him a scholarship at the very beginning of January.
"It's always been No. 1 to him," Lowe said. "He said he wants to continue working on his game to keep pushing and pushing, and he's always done that to be able to get offered at Duke. They're getting a guy who can score in high quantities."
Lowe continued: "They're getting a guy who can really guard and takes pride in his defense. He's willing to guard the other team's best offensive player every night. They're probably getting the hardest-working young man I've ever had a chance to coach and train."
Duke is expected to play Sulaimon at both guard positions, as he is a versatile shooter, scorer and ball-handler. Sulaimon is averaging 22.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.2 steals for a Strake Jesuit squad that is 24-3 on the year. Sulaimon joins Army-bound forward Michael Felton and rising 2012 guard John Gillon on the team.
Playing for Krzyzewski is a dream come true, but Sulaimon also is looking forward to earning a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.
"I actually talked to an academic adviser for a good while," Sulaimon said. "Duke's one of top schools in world. They're opening schools in China. I'm really interested in doing business and finance, and they told me about classes that would help me. They already started to make a plan for me. It just shows that they're really like a family there."
Lowe added: "They're getting a very honorable person who is respectful and loyal," Lowe said. "His family has great core values. They believe in discipline, respect and hard work. His family has instilled that in him, and that's why everyone loves him. His game just happens to take everything else on a whole different level."