In recent months, while wrapping up a brilliant basketball career at Friends' Central and playing in several showcase events, Amile Jefferson struggled mightily to cement his college destination.

Now, finally, all the tossing and turning is over.

On Tuesday in his school's gymnasium, Jefferson, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward and one of the nation's top recruits, committed to play at Duke.

"In the end, I wanted to choose the school that I thought fit me best on and off the court," said Jefferson, flanked by his parents. "I think I made a great choice.

"Duke is a prestigious school, a school that's going to challenge me on and off the court. I'm excited about that challenge. It's something I wanted."

The two-time Inquirer all-Southeastern Pennsylvania player of the year chose the Blue Devils over runner-up North Carolina State, Villanova, Kentucky, and Ohio State.

Jefferson said he finalized his decision on Sunday, only days before Wednesday's end of the spring signing period.

"It came down to me speaking with my family, doing the pros and cons, and making that gut choice," he said. "I think I made a decision for my future. Down the line, I think I'll come to realize what a great decision I made."

It was no secret that Jefferson's father, Malcolm Musgrove, who played at West Philadelphia High and Delaware State, has long admired Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.

"I am really excited," Musgrove said. "Duke has been one of my favorites for quite some time. We felt it was the best for him. He's going to get to study hard and, on the basketball floor, be able to work hard."

N.C. State arguably worked the hardest of any school to land Jefferson. Despite those efforts, coach Mike Gottfried and the Wolfpack came up just short.

"It's definitely a program on the rise," Jefferson said. "Everything about the school is great. But in the end, Duke seemed to be the best fit for me."

Last season, while helping lead Friends' Central to a 22-5 record, Jefferson averaged 19.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks. For his career, he totaled 1,569 points, 839 rebounds, and 189 blocks.

"Honestly, the recruiting process has been going on since his freshman year," Phoenix coach Jason Polykoff said. "I'm happy to see him finally put this behind him."

Jefferson, ranked by ESPN as the 25th-best college prospect in the Class of 2012, will join the list of locals who have played for Krzyzewski, including recent graduates Brian Zoubek (Haddonfield) and Gerald Henderson (Episcopal Academy).

"I think he's an amazing coach," said Jefferson, 18. "What's he's done over the years speaks for itself. I want to learn from him, feed off his energy. To play for him is a big honor."

Did Jefferson seriously consider joining Neshaminy's Ryan Arcidiacono and Westtown's Daniel Ochefu in playing at nearby Villanova?

"I thought going out of state would be best for me," he said. "When you face challenges and obstacles, you can't just come home. You have to stick with it, fight through it. I think I'll grow from that."

Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone