Duke Football picks up a verbal from OL Matt Skura

Matt Skura in blue gives Duke a verbal after this weekend's camp

DURHAM- The Duke Blue Devils landed a center this afternoon when Matt Skura phoned in his intentions to play in Durham.  Skura is 6-3.25, 281 rising senior at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus, Ohio.

 “They came to me with a scholarship offer at the end of their camp and I just thought it was the right fit where you are surrounded with really good people,” said Skura.

I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to call in and confirm my commitment to Coach Luke today.  Skura plays guard in high school but was recruited to play center at Duke.  “After getting to know some of the offensive lineman and coaches I felt really comfortable and it was a warm experience.”

When asked by Blue Devil Nation to describe his game in his own words, Skura replied, “I’d say I’m physical and that’s how I like to play, I have great technique and work hard giving 100% in the weight room and in the classroom.”

Skura picked Duke over several other schools recruiting him including: Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Toledo and Ohio.

Stay tuned for more football recruiting at BDN.

Monday Musings – Gbinije improves, recruiting is hot and more

I was in full interview and scouting mode all weekend long and in the pic you can see an extremely tired Watzone interviewing J.P. Tokoto on day three of the NBAPA Camp in Charlottesville, Va. No copyrights on this pic for who would want to show me elsewhere;) Thanks for reading another edition of Monday Musings.

It’s that time of year when many people are taking their vacations and enjoying the first day of summer.  As we have said before, many think this is a slow time of year for Duke Athletics, but think again.  Just this weekend we covered the NBAPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville from beginning to end to bring you the best coverage available.  Our members already have four interviews and camp updates to peruse with no less than 6 more interviews to come.

That’s not all!  The Duke Football staff held the second leg of their camp this past weekend and as the dog days of July and August creep in, we’ll concentrate on the hottest prospects that Cutcliffe and his staff are after.  Duke Football Recruiting is alive and well and they are pounding the trail to find kids to help take the program to new levels.  FWIW, we’ll also take a look at proposed stadium and facility improvements in the near future and of course, we’ll be front and center when football practice begins.  A long time ago, I pushed all Duke football fans to a particular forum and now we want all to know that BDN loves Duke Football and this is the place to be if you follow the program.

It looks like Glenn “Doc” Rivers may step down from the Celtics job to watch his sons play basketball and be home more often.  The word is that Doc will stay close to hoops through broadcasting and he has not officially made any decision as of this morning.  Of course, Duke is hot after his son Austin Rivers, a player you can read the latest on our premium message boards.

I was really impressed at how much Michael Gbinije improved on his game when I viewed him this weekend.  I have a new name for him, “G- Smooth,” for he is a cool customer when on the hardwood.  Gbinije finished as the camps 6th best scorer and he by no means was looking for his shot everytime down the court as some where.  We have an interview up with Gbinije where he talks improvement and playing with Kyrie Irving and Josh Hairston during the USA U-18 team trials.

BDN will cover the N.C. Pro Am in force this year just as we’ve done every year since it’s inception.  No Duke site has covered the event like we have and we will be there to bring you updates for thirsty Duke fans.  We look forward to seeing our Blue Devils on the court again and this year promises to be one of the best at this event which we’ll talk more of as it gets closer to tip off.

Just a suggestion, but take time to realize how awesome the national championship was for the 2010 Duke Men’s Basketball team.  These titles do not grow on trees, so wallow in the light all summer long for once next season tips off it is but a wonderful memory.  Just ask UNC fans how long the celebration can last and be sure and bask in the feel good vibes that have come from a fabulous feat.

Speaking or Kyrie Irving and Josh Hairston and the USA U-18 team, BDN will cover the teams efforts.  Word is that Kyrie Irving is everything people thought he might be.  Let’s not forget Coach K and the big boys either!  Here is the Herald Sun’s Bryan Strickland with a piece on  Coach K.

If you are sitting on the fence about joining our premium section, why not try out our one month special and see if it’s for you.  We think you’ll enjoy full site access as our off season coverage grows red hot as summer begins.

Michael Gbinije’s shows off his improved game at the NBAPA Camp

Future Duke player Michael Gbinije was the NBAPA Camp's 6th leading scorer and he is constantly improving his skill set. Gbinije talks about Josh Hairston and Kyrie Irving and more in yet another BDN Premium interview from the NBAPA Top 100 Camp. Why not try our trial offer and then decide if full site access is for you. There is still a lot more coming your way for we have just scratched the surface with concerns to this past weekend's coverage. Photo by Rick Crank for the Blue Devil Nation is copyrighted

CHARLOTTESVILLE – One player that showed off his skills at the NBAPA Camp was future Duke player Michael Gbinije.  The first thing I noticed was how much better his on ball defense was but more importantly he didn’t have those little quiet stretches he had been previously known for.  The words “stay aggressive,” have been pounded into the rising senior by the Duke coach staff and Gbinije is adhering to their advice.  Gbinije is a silent killer, not particularly flashy but brilliantly effective while on the court.  In fact, he finished as the camps 6th leading scorer and he did that playing withing his teams system and his coached concepts.  This is the first of two chats with Gbinije that we are bringing premium members and you are sure to love his comments on Kyrie Irving, his development and his maturity due to a frenetic summer.

How has the camp gone for you thus far?

I missed yesterday due to the Team USA Trials but this morning has gone great.  There has been a lot of good drills and coaching by previous NBA players.

What did you take away from the USA tryouts?

I experienced different things like maturity.  A lot of the players were already in college, so seeing where I fit in and knowing what I need to work on as far as my individual game helps me prepare.

You looked good in transition in your first game, can you speak to that?

The half court sets are pretty much a slow and developed for the bigs but for the guards you’re supposed to run out.  That’s like the best thing we can do in getting the bigs away from the game and pretty much like put the pressure on the defense which is very important.

Can you talk a bit about the USA tryouts?

It was a three day tryout and[private] on the third day we had a practice in the morning and after that they pretty much picked the team.  It was like 21 people trying out and they kept like 14.

Were you disappointed with not making the squad?

Yeah, I was disappointed but it’s alright.

Why did you choose Duke and how do you feel like you’ll fit in there?

I think I’m a good fit because  they are perimeter oriented and they use a whole bunch of guards and versatile players where Coach K gives them a lot of freedom on the court.  Another reason is becaue of Coach K.  I just think he’s the best coach now and  he knows how to put players in a situation to win.

Have you talked to anyone from the Duke staff of late?

I talked to Coach K on the phone before going out to San Antonio.  He told me just to play hard and play my best.

What are your goals the rest of the way at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp?

Try not to lose anymore games but at the same time play aggressive and my best.

You played with future Duke players Kyrie Irving and Josh Hairston.  What was that like?

Kyrie is going to be one of the best point guards and he knows how to get everybody involved and he can do it for his size to.

That was a broad smile when you spoke of Irving.

Yeah.  I can’t forget about Josh.  He knows the game and sets a lot of screens, his IQ is very good.

What do you like about Irving?

There is nothing like an unselfish point guard.  He knows where you’re going to be when he drives and can kick out to create easy buckets for people.

We will have another Q & A session coming with Gbinije. [/private]

Top prospect Amile Jefferson wants to improve his game

Amile Jefferson surveys the defense at the NBAPA Top 200 Camp In Charlottesville, Virginia - BDN Photo

CHARLOTTESVILLE - BDN continues to churn  out interviews with the nations top prospects who talk of their experiences during the NBAPA Top 100 Camp which was held in Charlottesville on the Virginia campus this past weekend.  Already posted are Q & A’s with Tyler Adams and Marshall Plumlee and there is much more to come.

What is it like to be invited to and play in the NBAPA Top 100 camp?

It’s definitely an honor to be here with all these great players and talent around.  An not only that, but the coaches around here make you want to sponge in as much as you can in the time that I’m here.

Who are the schools that have offered thus far?

Penn State, Villanova,Temple, Stanford, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgetown and LaSalle have been in contact a lot and the last few day I got to speak with most of them personally, talking to the coaches and hearing about their programs.

Did you have a dream school growing up or one which you would love to go to?

No, I don’t, I don’t.  I just want to be at a school where I fit in and a school that wants to win not just one year but every year so right now I’m kind of wide open.

Did any of the ACC schools contact you after the Tournament of Champions event in North Carolina?

Yes.  I believe UNC contacted my high school coach on the days that they could call.  Schools like that are prestigious you know and the top programs and to be at one of those schools like Duke or Carolina would be an honor.

What do you want to work on with concerns to your game?

Definitely ball handling and shooting.  These guys who’ve played professional ball have a few tricks up their sleeve and can get open, not only with strong moves but being quicker.  So they’re showing us not only how to move but how to swipe through with floppy cuts and just to learn those little tricks and work on them until I can do it as good as they can.

You knocked down two three point shots in the last game.  Is that something you’ve worked on.

It’s definitely a work in progress but it’s coming along and it’s getting better and that’s what I wanted to see.  I kind of want to shy away from the three point line and hit the mid range jump shot because I feel they are more effective.  And after you hit a few of those, you can get into the lane more and draw some fouls.

What do you hope to accomplish during the coming  high school season?

My goal next year is to be a leader and my coach wants me to be a captain of the team next year and that is something I take pride in.  Next year I want to be a leader and want to win.

What areas of your game need the most improvement?

Definitely dribbling and or ball handling and strength.  I’m not all that big so I wan to get stronger and get my body where it needs to be.  I plan on getting my legs stronger and everything for that matter, so that I can be even more athletic.

When did you first know that basketball was for you?

I first learned I loved the game of basketball when playing for my AAU coach Cedric Jones, a great guy.  He spends his money to get us at tournaments and for someone who spends their money just to get kids out of the city, well that means a lot.  Those guys that I started out playing with in the fifth grade are my friends to this day and I’m blessed for that.  When I first started AAU ball that when I knew it was something I loved and that basketball was something I wanted to get better at.  I know I’m not there yet, but I have a lot of work to do and I will put in the work to get there. [/private]

Marshall Plumlee enters the stretch run of the recruiting process

 
Marshall Plumlee runs the floor well - BDN Photo

CHARLOTTESVILLE -

During last evenings closing ceremony at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp, Marshall Plumlee was named to the five man workout warrior team for his work ethic during one of the nation’s top events.  Plumlee used the opportunity of playing with some of the nation’s best players to get better, but coaches advice helped as much.  Plumlee visited Virginia today and he most recently met with the Duke coaching staff as he nears his decision on where he’ll play his college basketball.  BDN caught up to Marshall and got his thoughts on the process.  [Discuss this and more on the BDN Premium message board becoming a member today]

What is it like to play with some of the nation’s top prospects?

It’s a lot of fun because most of the kids have good attitudes and learn from one another.  We all do certain things well and we take some of that to make ourselves better.

Do you feel like you’ve played well so far?

I’m happy with what I’ve done.  A couple of moves have gone my way and I feel like I’m rebounding better.  I could be playing a little better defense but I’m happy with the way that things have gone.

I watched one sequence in the last game where you had a three point play and then dished an assist on the break the next time down giving your team a one point lead. 

I didn’t really notice but when you start to mesh together as a team things goes better.  You want that kind of thing to become second nature.

Do your brothers keep tabs on you these days?

Yeah, yeah, more and more I’m talking to them, especially recently.  So, a lot more of late.  I really enjoy getting closer to them.  I got time to spend time with Miles at Duke recently.  I have to catch up with Mason who is in Chicago working a camp.  I really look to them for advice especially at this stage in my recruitment for their opinions mean a lot to me. [private]

You seem to be working on some go-to moves down low.

I think I’m getting a better feel for it. The great thing about this camp is that their is a wealth of knowledge here with former NBA players and coaches.  They’ll work with you, but you’ve just got to take the time.  I pulled some of them to the side and they’ll work with me on go-to moves and little stuff like that.  I know there are some things I have to work on at the offensive end.

What have you been working on here?  I saw you talking with your coaches when you came out of the games.

I pride myself on trying to be confident on the defensive end of .  I’m lucky because my coach is Theo Ratliffe and if anyone knows how to teach big men it’s him.  He showed me a lot of things that are obvious but I haven’t noticed.  His advice has really helped and I’m enjoying working with him.

You were playing very aggressive out there at times.

Yeah, if only I could knocked down my free throws.  Normally I try to be more efficient from the free throw line but tonight I struggled.  I just really try to attack the basket because good things will happen if you go up strong, so I try to keep that mindset. [Marshall hit his next four free throws with good form]

We’re at Virginia and this is one of the schools that are recruiting you and on your final list of four schools.  What do you think about this place overall?

Overall,  I like Virginia.  I really like Coach Bennett, a great guy and a man I deeply respect.  I have a good relationship with him and have enjoyed the process and getting to know him.  A school like Virginia makes my decision terribly tough.  I’ve been talking to my family, my brothers and I am really going to try to figure out the situation for me.  I will be staying to visit with Coach Bennet after the NBAPA camp.

You hold an offer from Duke, is everything going well there?

Yeah and as of late even better.  I’m in a different situation than my two brothers who are already at Duke, therefore the process has been a little bit different.  Most of the stuff they don’t have to sell me for I already know, so … Recently I’ve been able to meet with Coach K and Coach Wojciechowski and talking with them and building a relationship with them has been really helpful, but more than anything talking to my brothers.  Duke is a school that, you can’t really say anything bad about them.  They’re coming off a national championship [smiling, hesitating] it’s a very viable option.  If I were to to pick Duke I would pick them for me and the opportunity to play with my brothers is just icing on the cake and I’d love that an it would be awesome.  But if I were to pick Duke it would be because it’s the best situation for me and they have a lot of things that fit me just right.

I know that your Mom and Dad are big on education.  How does that play into your decision?

Education is something that’s very important to me but I love basketball though and it’s my passion and I hope to see how far it’ll take me and education is important for there is life after basketball.

How is the rest of your summer looking?

Amare Stoudemire Camp and the LeBron James camp, a busy summer.

Thanks for your time and good luck the rest of the way.

Thanks a lot Mr. Watson. [/private]

A

NBAPA Top 100 Camp Day Two – Gbinije is the camps 6th leading scorer

Duke verbal Tyler Adams (blue) goes for a rebound at the NBAPA Camp. For all the skinny on prospects join Blue Devil Nation Premium.

CHARLOTTESVILLE – One of the coaches and mentors at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp is former Blue Devil Chris Duhon.  We chatted with Duhon and you’ll hear what he had to say early next week.  If you think he was taking it easy on the kids in drills think again.  He stuffed one camper as he went up for a jump shot to challenge the free agent.

Soon to be Blue Devil Tyler Adams again challenged all comers on the glass, grabbing 10 rebounds in one of the days games.  Adams was sporting a wrist support by tonight’s game and he told BDN he sprained the wrist during the morning session.  The injury happened earlier this AAU season.  Adams intimidated [private] a couple of players into turnovers, but he needs work on his help defense.  One thing I loved was that it was Adams, the man in the middle talking to his teammates directing them to men on the defensive end.  In short, he knew where to be on the court.  Bottom line is that the Celtics only consistent player is Adams who went for 11 and 15 points on Friday.

Will the real Rodney Hood please stand up!  If you are a member of BDN Premium you may remember that Duke was once looking at the Mississippi native.  Hood seemingly regressed dropping in the rankings, but if his play during the NBAPA Camp is something he can repeat on a regular basis, then he is back and once again moving up in the rankings.  Hood told BDN that his list of schools were firm at around nine, but he said if the right team came in he’d open the door.  For what it’s worth, Hood’s dream school growing up was, you got it, Duke.

We checked out Rodney Purvis and secured an interview and I must say the 2013 prospect is as advertised.

And then there is Deuce Bello.  Wow!  This guy is good.  The first year I saw him he was but an athlete but he is know turning into a smarter basketball player that has a really solid handle and blow by speed.  Easily one of the tournaments best and most consistent players.  Bello is averaging 12.0 ppg.

A big guy that was calling for the ball today was named Marshall Plumlee.  The Duke prospect was more aggressive today and he once again drew several fouls.  Unlike last evening, he nailed his free throws today.  As we noted Plumlee will visit Virginia after the event where he will meet with Coach Bennett.  However, a good meeting took place with Coach K and Wojo recently and considering his brothers are at Duke, I kind of think he will opt that way in due time.  Plumlees scoring numbers from today were  6 and 2.

After a great start in the event, Amile Jefferson’s game tailed off significantly on the offense in the early game

Man was I happy to see J.P. Tokoto get a few points in.  Tokoto started the game with two air balls and they were some kind of ugly ten to fifteen foot shots.  He finally got an easy one and then nailed one from the outside.  That means he is averaging a whopping 1.0 ppg good for 103rd in scoring.  He’s a good player for sure but needs serious work on the offensive end of the court, especially with his outside game.  I really think he needs to play for his AAU teams 17 U team to get better.  Despite the rumors of a Carolina lean which may be true for him, his stepfather will not let him rush into a decision and this one will go on for a bit.

Then there is Kaleb Tarczewskiwho seems warm when talking of Duke.  Coach K gave him a call not long ago and Chris Collins started the ball rolling.  This 2012 kid is going to be a good center in college and he is not afraid to mix it up.  He blocked Cody Zellers shot so hard that he hit the floor.  He threw down two moster slams as well, but Zeller had his best game of the tournament scoring 20.  It was Tarczewski’s teams first loss.

Then there was Michael Gbinije, the silent assassin who tossed in 16 and 15 points making him the camps 6th leading scorer. [/private]