DURHAM, N.C. – When Marshall Plumlee committed to Duke we were tipped off that he would not go to Las Vegas but instead would spend time with his brothers on campus thorugh August. BDN caught up with Marshall during last evenings N.C. Pro Am event where he played alongside his brother Mason. Marshall played as if he belonged on the court showing off his ability to run the hardwood and in the process scored 12 points which included a nice alley oop from Mason which ended in an emphatic dunk. Listen to Marshall as he opens up about why he chose Duke and shares details for the first time about how that went down. Stay tuned for our nightly Pro Am article [private] as well.
DURHAM, N.C. - The first thing you notice when watching Ryan Kelly in the N.C. Pro Am is the fact that he has bulked up via the weight room and diet. Kelly dropped 28 points last evening which helped guide his D-One team to a close 82-79 victory over Dreamworks. Kelly showed off his improved all around game and has that unusual and rare throw back mid range game. In short, Kelly did all things well last evening. While attending the Peach Jam I had a brief chat with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski who posed a question to me. “Have you seen Ryan?,” asked the HOF coach who seemed elated at the changes he has made physically. Kelly’s emergence gives Duke fans something to look forward to as next years team depth will likely land them as pre season number one in the polls. During the interview, Kelly made it clear that he would find a way on the court this season and he did so with a steely eyed conviction. Listen to Kelly’s comments for yourself via BDN audio where I shared the session with my pal, Ken Tysiac of the Charlotte Observer -
Khem Birch is a 6’9″ 200 lb rising junior from the Montreal area. In June, Birch helped Canada win a bronze medal at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championship in San Antonio, leading the junior national team in rebounding and blocked shots. After spending his sophomore year at Winchendon Academy, he has transferred to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. At the recent King City Classic, the soft-spoken Canadian with the loud game spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of topics, ranging from his Canadian junior national team experience to his desire to being a two-and-done to Kyrie Irving.
What schools are recruiting you hardest right now?
Providence, Florida, Pitt, Texas, Ohio State, West Virginia, and Arizona.
Have they all offered? Yes, they’ve all offered. Kentucky also contacted me recently, but they haven’t offered yet. [private]
Do you have a timeframe for when you’d like to decide?
No, I don’t know when I’ll decide.
Do you still view it as early? Oh, yeah, I’d say so.
What do you feel will be the most important factor, whenever you do decide on a college program? My relationship with the coaching staff and also the players. I’d like to be comfortable with them.
Do you have a preference, in terms of style of play? I like to run. I like to get up and down, but I can play either way.
Why did you decide to transfer to Notre Dame Prep? Well, there were a few reasons. My coach left to take a different job. I think Notre Dame Prep is better academically. And then other guys on my team like Angel Nunez also left that school. I didn’t want to be alone there.
Now, academically, are you going to be okay? There’s not going to be any problems with qualifying, right?
Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I just think my new school is better. That’s all. I’ll be fine.
Will distance be a factor for you in your college decision?
I don’t think so now. I’ll have to talk it over with my mother since she would be the one that I’d want to see me. It was a big deal when I first came to America. I missed home so much.
Was it a major adjustment?
It was really tough, at first, making the adjustment. I was young and felt alone and I didn’t really know anybody. My parents were going through some problems. I just missed home and my mother.
You’ve said that you’d like to be a “two and done.” What made you come to that decision?
I’ve thought about it and I think I need to spend some time in college and enjoy it. I want to improve a lot before I go to the NBA, but that’s my goal. I’ve put some thought into and I just don’t want to be a one-and-done type.
I understand that you wanted to be a football player. Is that true? Yeah, I did. I always wanted to play football more and hopefully grow up and play in the Canadian Football League. That was always my hope, when I was younger. I had good hands and that helped.
What position did you play?
I played mostly wide receiver because of my hands, but I also played some quarterback, I think, because of my height. They thought I could see better.
Do you think that your football mentality brings something different to the court from some of the other top players here?
Maybe. I think maybe more on defense and dealing with getting hit or being physical inside. I’m not afraid to get hit at all.
Where have you visited? I’ve visited two schools: Massachusetts and Providence. I will be going to visit Pitt, though.
When is that visit scheduled?
In August, I believe.
They have you listed for some reason at 175. What do you actually weight now?
Yeah, I don’t know why, but I’m up to two hundred pounds now. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while.
I saw you playing for Winchendon last November in one of those showcase tournaments and I thought you stood out, particularly with changing the other team’s shots and hitting the offensive glass, but your arms look bigger and more defined now. Yeah, thanks. I’ve been able to add weight and muscle since I got to Notre Dame Prep like a month ago. I think I’ve added like ten pounds of muscle or something since I’ve gotten there. I give the school a lot of the credit. It’s helped a lot with my arms and upper body, but I know that I’ve still got a long way to go.
What do you hope to weigh? I’m hoping to eventually weigh between 220 and 230. I’d like to be able to get up to around 210 this season.
What position are they primarily recruiting you as, center or power forward? Both really. I think they see me as a big guy that can play either position, but I guess more people look at me as a power forward.
Who are some of the other top kids that you’re friendly with? Angel Nunez and Ricardo Ledo. Angel was my teammate last season and he’s going with me to Notre Dame.
Yeah, I know Angel a little bit. He was from the Bronx. Yeah, exactly, and Ricardo I know from AAU. Actually, most of the kids here didn’t know me before I got here.
Why do you think that is?
I don’t think they ever heard of me before, for whatever reason, maybe because of where I played or the league.
Well, I mean it’s a very competitive league and schedule. If they didn’t know about you before, I’m sure that you’ve made an impression this week. There’s a reason why I put a request in to speak with you first. Can you talk about the experience of playing for Canada? You guys trained in Toronto, right?
Oh, yeah, we did. That was just a great experience. I didn’t know any of those guys before, but we bonded like brothers and I think I’m going to be friends with those guys for the rest of my life. It was amazing because we were together for like three straight weeks. I was so disappointed to not get the gold, but I’m glad that at least we got a medal and we’ll be back in the future.
Definitely, the USA was loaded and you guys earned the bronze medal.
Yeah, I thought we played well, but it also made me realize that I need to improve my game on offense and be more versatile. I guess, in the end, I feel proud of our performance and really grateful for the opportunity.
Who’s the best player that you’ve faced so far? That’s tough. There were some really difficult guys we faced in our league like Will Barton or Andre Drummond and Myck (Kabongo) was great for the Canadian team, but I’d have to say Kyrie Irving. He was just unbelievable down there.
What made Kyrie so difficult? He could kill you in so many different ways. He changes speeds and thinks so well out there and can shoot the ball and passes it amazingly . He was just tough, man.
At this point, what do you feel are your strengths?
My energy or motor. I like to get after it and my shot blocking.
Now, you’ve only been playing this game for about four years. What do you feel you need to improve upon most, before you reach college? I need to be more versatile on offense and improve my body too. I need to be more vocal on the court too. I realize that now.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
To win the championship in New England, which’ll be tough, but I think we can do it and hopefully win the national championship. That will be our goal or expectation. For me, personally, I just want to keep pushing myself to improve my weaknesses on the court and improve my body too.
Will you be going to Orlando or Vegas this year with your AAU program? Orlando this year
We were talking before about distance before and being open. If Duke were to express interest in you, would you be open to them? Oh, yeah, definitely. Absolutely.
What do you know about Duke? Oh, I mean they’re a great program. They just won the national title. They’re great academically. They’ve got Coach K and great fans too. They can get players to the NBA.
Since you haven’t spoken with him yet, what’s your impression of Coach Krzyzewski from afar?
He’s coached the USA team to the gold medal and just won the national title with Duke. I mean he’s coached a lot of great players and won a lot of games. He’s got a great reputation.
What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?
I like to listen to music a lot.
What type of music? Different types?
No, just rap or hip hop.
Thanks a lot, Khem, and good luck the rest of the summer. Thanks. [/private]
The Oakland Soldiers AAU team has four big time college prospects and one of them is point guard Josiah Turner. Turner [6-3, 195 PG Class of 2011 Sacramento, CA] is very aggressive with the ball and gets after it hard. College coaches are getting after Turner hard as well for there was no shortage of head men watching Turner during this past weeks Nike Peach Jam, now known as the Nike EYBL.
Duke has added Turner to their watch list and BDN caught up with point guard prospect recently for a Q & A session where he discussed a recnet call from the Blue Devils and more -
This is the first time I’ve seen you play and in the two games I beamed into, the one thing I come away with is that you are aggressive.
Yes. I’m an aggressive point guard that can get into the lane and to the rim when I want. I’m a pass first point guard looking for the open man. I play defense and I’m bigger than most guards, so that’s what I have over them at this time.
What is your go-to move?
My go to move is my hesitation. Hesitation. I’ll take them [private] out or in to get to the basket.
What are you like off the court?
I like to joke around a lot, I play video games, workout.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
Yeah, I try to be a leader on this team, that’s what I try to do.
Which schools have been the most aggressive with you to date?
UCLA, UConn, Kansas, Wake Forest, Oregon, St. John’s and uh, that’s about it.
You’re a west coast guy. Would there be a problem moving east?
No it’s not a problem, not a problem at all to move east.
Where did you learn your basketball skills?
I’ve been playing since I was four or five and always had a ball in my hand.
Do you pattern your game after anyone in the pro or college game?
I look at Gilbert Arenas. I like his play and Chris Paul’s play, that’s about it.
I’m from the ACC area and heard that Duke most recently called you.
Yeah, they called me like two nights ago.
Who did you talk to?
How did the chat go?
Oh, it went good. They were talking about how they haven’t seen me yet. But the head coach saw me at the LeBron James camp and they are here at the Peach Jam as well.
Yes, Coach K. There somebody I’d really be interested in. I like Duke and they’re one of the top programs, so of course I’m interested.
The coaching staff and how good of a relationship I have with them. How the offense is set up and how they play and that’s about it.
Who will help you with your eventual decision on where you’ll play your college ball?
My mom, just my mom. And my Dad, they are both huge in my life, especially my mom.
Where will your team go from here?
We’re going to Vegas for the Fab 48 and then we’re going to L.A.
Did you enjoy the Peach Jam?
I like it and like coming east because there is more competition.
What area of your game needs improvement?
My off the ball defense. I turn my head a lot where defenders can sneak behind me. So, I need work there.
Did you have a dream school growing up?
Not really. It was Kansas when I was real young, but I don’t really have one.
There will be little rest for the Duke staff as this week marks the beginning of a busy time split between the pro’s and the nations top prospects. Coach Krzyzewski and Chris Collins will head to Las Vegas to where they’ll be joined by Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. The reason is that Team USA is putting together and entirely new roster made up mainly of up and coming players. With no help from the Dream Team, Krzyzewski will seek to form new bonds of chemistry in his on going effort to aid USA Basketball. But the staff will also be out during the last leg of the recruiting trail where three major tournaments start in Las Vegas this week. BDN’s Andrew Slater will be on the scene to bring you tidbits as they happen and his unique style has made him a hit with our members. The following week, it will be down to Orlando for the Showcase and AAU Nationals. Needless to say, it’s quite the busy time for the men’s hoops staff.
It’s no secret that some Alabama fans are purchasing season tickets for just one single game in Wallace Wade Stadium on September 18th. Mark my words that this will be the toughest ticket to get in recent memory and rest assured the scalpers are lying in wait for what could be a big pay day. Speaking of season tickets, the numbers are already better this season which is a testament to keeping big games at home. Earlier discussions had the game possibly being played in Birmingham or Atlanta, but Cutcliffe fought to keep the game in Durham, not only for the program, but for the fans
I will head to Greensboro on Sunday for ACC Operation Football which kicks off the 2010-11 season. I’ve said for a long time now that the four best teams will be in the Coastal Division and it is no fun trying to pick the order in which they will finish. I could make a case for Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech. It’ll not be easy to place the Tar Heels who are in the midst of an NCAA investigation yet they return more experience than pretty much anybody in the nation.
Congrats to J.J. Redickwho cashed in with the Orlando Magic who met the Chicago Bull’s offer. Same goes for Carlos Boozer who will man the paint in the Windy City this season. And to think, those two could have formeda tandem with Luol Deng.
Lots of buzz for Duke’s Michael Gbinije, a class of 2011 commitment. Gbinije enjoyed a solid tournament as he led his Team Takeover team to the Nike EYBL Challenge. This kid has constantly improved from the first time I saw him play three years ago. A voice close to the program said he would play right away with Duke and that he did everything well. I concur.
Just a reminder that our N.C. Pro Am coverage will continue this week where games are played on the campus of N.C. Central University in Durham and admission is free.
At 6’8″ Alex Murphy is one of the most coveted recruits in the class of 2012, due to his unique mix of skill, basketball acumen, and athleticism. The son of 6’11″ former NBA veteran Jay Murphy, who coaches him along with former Celtics coach John Carroll for the New England Playaz, and his wife, Paivi, a 5’4″ former Finnish National point guard and ex-Swedish league pro, Alex has been bred to be a difficult match-up on the court. After a thirty point outing against Quincy Miller and D-One Sports, Murphy spoke with Blue Devil Nation about his recent offer from Duke, his relationship with both Kaleb Tarczewski and Shabazz Muhammad, and the comparisons between the rising junior and his older brother Erik of the Florida Gators
Can you talk about your match-up with Quincy Miller?
Yeah, it was a good match-up. He’s a tough player. Anytime you get a chance to play against somebody like that in the first round of a tournament it’s a challenge, but luckily we came out on top this time.
What schools are coming after you the hardest right now?
Duke, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Syracuse, Butler, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, and Boston College
Do you have a timeframe for when you’d like to decide by?
I don’t. Not yet.
Where have you visited so far and what do you have planned for the future?
I visited Florida last year. I just visited Duke when I was down there for a tournament. I’ve been to Boston College. I’ve been to UConn as well. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit all of the places I haven’t been that are still on my list, but we’ll see.
Is there a player that you try to model your game after?
Well, Kevin Durant is my favorite player in the league, but guys like Mike Dunleavy [private] and Mike Miller are a little bit closer to my game.
They’re about your height as well.
Yeah, and I think they have similar games too.
What are you looking for ideally whenever you do decide?
Whatever best fits me. A program that I help from day 1 and do whatever I can and in return ultimately helps get me to the next level and do what I want to do.
Who will you be seeking guidance from?
My family primarily and also from some of the guys with this program.
St. Mark’s as well?
Oh, yes, absolutely. I’ll definitely be talking with my coach there, Dave Lubick. He’s family as well. Well, he’s basically family anyway.
What are your strengths and weaknesses at this point?
Well, one thing I think I need to improve upon is my strength.
I think that’s one of the things that you have noticeably improved upon already to a degree.
Yeah, well, I have because I was, for the most part, home during the month of June so I was lifting or working out. I feel like I’m already stronger than I was before and can deal much better with a physical opponent. I’m looking forward to hopefully putting on some weight.
Drinking some protein drinks?
That moves to a later question. Do you do a lot of strength and conditioning right now?
Oh, yeah, I lift about three times per week and I’m in the gym working out almost every day. So I try to keep it balanced between basketball and getting my body into great shape.
Obviously, your not fat. So I didn’t mean to get on you about hitting a treadmill or something
(Laughs) No, no
Before I forget, what do you feel is your strength or what you can bring to a program?
Oh, I think the way I think and my ability to make others around me better.
Definitely, a high basketball IQ
Yeah, and I think I can pass well, dribble, shoot, have a high basketball IQ, and, like i said, make others around me better.
Who’s the toughest player you’ve faced so far, either at St. Mark’s or in AAU competition?
Oh, I think I’m going to have to say that, during my freshman year at St. Mark’s, we played Findlay Prep and they had Avery Bradley. He was just a first round draft pick so I think I’d have to go with him.
That league and the schedules that you play have improved so much. Well, at least during my lifetime. It used to be such an easy league, but now it’s improved.
Yeah, it has. The out of league schedule helps us too. We actually played Quincy and Quality Education during the season.
Oh, yeah, where was that?
It was down in Georgia. He beat us in double-overtime though, but we got him back today.
In terms of your goals for this summer..
Just win. That’s all I want to accomplish this month is to win and keep playing. Just keep playing games. The rest of it will take care of itself.
You play with Kaleb both here and at Saint Mark’s. Naturally, people are going to be curious if you guys have talked about playing together in college and, if so, how important would that be to you? You’ve both put yourself in a position where you will have many options. I know it can sometimes be an awkward issue.
Yeah, absolutely, but we’re like best friends. We sometimes talk about it. We live like right next to each other at school. We’re always together.
You guys both dorm at your school, right?
Yeah, yeah, but we don’t live in the same room together. He lives right next door.
Talk about the preparation you receive at St. Mark’s and how you think it might benefit you in your transition to college, both academically and from a basketball perspective.
Well, number one, it’s a small school and academically real tough. From a basketball perspective, we play in a small league, but we play against a lot of fifth-years and other quality players.
And facing Nate (Lubick) and Erik (Murphy) in practice everyday had to have advanced your game. Where do you like to catch it?
Yeah, they did. Um, I like to catch it on the break more than anything else. I love to play up-and-down. So, transition basketball is my thing. just getting out there and getting easy buckets while the defense is trying to figure things out. Easy baskets, man.
Can you talk about your recent visit to Duke?
It was really good. We sat down with the coaching staff for a little while. We got to talk about
(Interrupted by an Adidas guy telling us we needed to move to a different area of the gym)
(Resuming) What was your reaction to the offer?
It was exciting. As you know, they don’t just offer anybody out here. They’re selective. It was really cool, but it was also motivation for me to come out here and keep playing as hard as ever. To continue to do what I’ve been doing, but also to push myself even more.
What do you think is your range right now? Where do you feel comfortable shooting it?
As long as it’s a clean catch, I feel comfortable. I feel I can shoot the three pretty well.
Can you give a scouting report on both Kaleb and Shabazz Muhammad?
Yeah, well, I know Kaleb really well because we’re together all of the time. He’s my high school teammate and my roommate. He’s been playing well and, if he continues to work, the sky is the limit for him. I’m really close with Shabazz too. We talk a lot. He’s a real good kid too.
Yeah, he’s a very nice kid to deal with off of the court and a killer on it.
Absolutely, he’s a tremendous player. We met through Adidas Nations initially I think, but, yeah, he’s great both on and off the court. I talk to him all of the time.
Genetically or otherwise, just how much of an advantage or impact do you think it is in having a mother who was a professional point guard in Europe and and a dad who was able to play in the NBA on you, Erik, and Tomas?
Yeah, I mean just everybody plays in our family. It’s something we do and have fun doing. It’s definitely an advantage. We’re all pretty good athletically. It’s just something I’ve grown accustomed to.
Do you know Tom Konchalski?
Oh, yeah, absolutely.
We’re close and he had said that he thought you would be a good interview because you were more of an extrovert, to use his phrase, than Erik?
Yeah, I guess I am.
Can you talk about the similarities and differences between the three Murphy brothers?
Sure, when Erik was younger, he would always play inside. When we were growing up, we were always around the same size. When I was younger, my father would always try to have me play point guard, particularly when I was real young. I think it helped me develop more ball-handling skills than Erik. He’s sort of worked his way out and developed and I’ve sort of worked my way in and developed.
For those that haven’t had the opportunity to see you play, please describe your game to them.
I think I’m a versatile player. I think that I can play inside and out, depending upon the match-ups. I usually like to take the smaller guys inside. With the big guys, I feel comfortable taking them off of the dribble or shooting right over them, if they don’t want to come out.
You mentioned before about your development as an inside player. How comfortable are you playing inside for short spots or grabbing boards?
I’ve worked hard on both dimensions, but I feel like I can play inside. That said, I feel I can still improve substantially. I’m not done improving, by any means.
(The interview concluded abruptly as the team had to rush off) [/private]