National Recruiting Focus – Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond - USA Basketball

Standing at a listed 6'11" and weighing 265 pounds,  Andre Drummond isn't going to sneak up on anybody, but he seems more comfortable allowing his teammates to shine, with the occasional flash of dominance that causes coaches and crowds to gather and watch him. Drummond has had the body of a man since middle school, but he's very much still a kid, who likes to laugh and have fun. Sometimes, people would like him to take the game more seriously or be something that he isn't quite yet. Drummond understands that he needs to play harder and more consistently. Despite his size and relative athleticism, as my friend and veteran scout Tom Konchalski likes to point out, his best attribute is his passing. 

This past summer, the Mount Vernon, New York native and current Connecticut resident helped the USA Basketball U17 team to a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. Against both Serbia and Lithuania, Andre was a perfect five for five from the field. On a loaded U-17 team, Drummond averaged nearly nine points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots in almost thirteen minutes per game. The prior year, the nearly seven footer was instrumental in helping the USA team to another gold medal at the inaugural FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Mendoza, Argentina over host country Argentina.

Drummond has spent the past seventeen months at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Connecticut playing for Coach Jere Quinn, who has molded many current and former college basketball players, including former McDonald's All-American, Eddie Cota. St. Thomas More, the namesake of the school, was credited for coining the term "utopia," which is coincidentally how Andre has viewed his experience thus far, embracing the structure and discipline of the institution. Drummond feels that his time spent here has helped him improve on both ends of the court and view the game differently.

After a recent loss against a deep and older Hargrave Military Academy squad, Andre Drummond spoke with Blue Devil Nation.

This was clearly a very tough opponent with mix of postgraduates and several future ACC players. They've got guards going to Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

We did well and then it kind of got away from us near the end of the game.

They came out really hard at the beginning. You guys were able to take their first punch and come back. What did you guys do put you right back in the game?

They ran out early and Coach called timeout. He said, "Don't get rattled. Just go out there and let's keep playing. Trust each other." We did that and it helped cut the lead and kept our focus.

For you, it looks like you took a shot to the mouth in the first half. What happened there?

A couple of games previous to this..I got hit in my face and lost a tooth. I got hit again today and, so, it kind of shook me up a little bit. (laughs)

I saw you were wearing that mouthguard.

Yeah, that saw just to protect it. They knocked it out. It caused a sharp pain..but just for a little bit and then I wanted to get right back out there.

Coach has said that in the past he's wanted you to be a bit more more dominant and calling for the ball. Is it still a process for you? There's times where you did that today and then there were times where he was telling you to do it a  little bit.

I'm just like more of a team player. I like to get my teammates involved. I like to see my teammates score more than I do. I like to see the smiles on their faces. That's just the type of player I am.

For you and your teammates, what do you learn from a game like this?

We've just got to learn from our mistakes and realize that we've got a game very soon. So, we've got to try to correct our mistakes and play better then.

You guys were coming off of a long break before this game.  Guys were coming from all over. What impact, if any, did that have on this game?

I think it did have an effect. It was a long break.

One of the things that Coach was talking about was just how much more aggressive that they came out of the gates. He mentioned that their effort coming out of the gates, particularly on defense, set the tone early. Can you touch on that? Did they surprise you early on in the game?

Yeah, I think everybody was kind of relaxed before we went out there. Maybe too relaxed. They gave us, like you said before, a punch in the face and then we were like "Okay, we've got to match their intensity." They took their lead and now we're going to fight back to get in this game.

Another reporter: You're the top national prospect and you've been anointed as "the next Amar'e Stoudamire or Dwight Howard." How do respond or what are your thoughts on statements like that?

(laughs) I don't really get too big-headed or stuff like that.  I just take it all in. I don't really let any of that stuff get to me, one way or the other. I appreciate people thinking or saying that stuff about me, but I'm just trying to enjoy myself. On days like this, it doesn't really matter.

What are the qualities or things that you are looking for in the program that you'll commit to?

I don't have a list, but I'd like a great academic structure and a good basketball staff. That's what I've found here.

I'm sorry. Did you say that you didn't have a list of schools right now?

No, I don't have a list right now. I'm sorry.

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses at this point?

Well, I think, when I demand the ball, I can be very good and sometimes dominant, but my weaknesses are getting a little lazy on things like offense. I need to get better at not doing that.

And how do you think you've improved since coming to Saint Thomas More and playing for Coach Quinn?

I think I've gotten stronger. My offense and defense has improved. Mentally, I'm seeing the game more clearly.

Just out of curiosity, on this team, there are guys that are two to three years older than you, but, obviously, for the team to be successful, you need to be a leader and one of the focal points. Is it ever an issue for you to get after some guys or give advice to teammates, who are several years older than you?

(laughs) Yeah, it's sometimes a little weird. You know giving guys advice that are like nineteen or twenty years old and I just turned seventeen years old. It does feel a little weird, but hopefully they understand where it's coming from. (laughs)

At the same time, does it feel strange demanding the ball from these guys and trying to take on that dominant role, when you've got such veteran players around you?

Not really. I don't really call for the ball too much, as you've seen. I just try to get my other teammates involved a little bit. Give them a chance to score too.

Is there a player that you try to model your game after?

No, not really.

How about your experience with USA Basketball? You've not only participated, but been an integral part of both teams you've made.

I'm always happy to see you wearing your USA Basketball sweatshirts and hats at various events.

I'm glad to see that kind of patriotism. Can you tell the audience a little bit about those experiences?

Oh, absolutely, those were amazing experiences. Like you said, I got a chance to play for our country twice. I got a chance to visit some interesting places too. Last year, I went down to Argentina and then, this year, I went over to Hamburg, Germany.

Can you talk about the competition and the travel just a little bit more?

Oh, sure, we got to play against some good teams like Lithuania and then Poland.

Who else did we play?

I'm sorry, but I just don't remember right off the top of my head. The competition was tough though. I played like seven footers and guys like 6'11." So, you know, kids my height and so it was good to get challenged. They were a lot bigger and stronger than I was.

What kind of challenge was that for you?

Oh, it was hard, man. They were tough. I actually had to play. (laughs)

Who's the toughest player that you've faced so far?

That's a tough one, but I'd probably say Michael Gilchrist.

Do you have any visits planned, as of today?

No, none at all at this time.

What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?

Oh, I'd like them to know that I'm a humble kid who likes to do charity work. I'm proud of that. I just was working on a clothing drive last week. I like to give back to my community as well.

I remember that you were from Mount Vernon originally and moved up to Connecticut when you were eight. That's not far from where I grew up.

Oh, yes, yes.

Well, thanks very much for your time and being a part of USA Basketball.

Of course, thanks. Nice talking to you.

Andrew Slater is one of BDN Premiums Recruiting Analyst's and he's as good as it gets.  Do you want more information on Drummond and where Duke fits in?  Join Blue Devil Nation Premium and discuss the matter with other Duke fans on our members only message board. Memberships are availiable on a trial one month period, three months, six months or a year which is the best bargain at $100.00.  With many upcoming changes in the works, BDN Premium is more than ever the place to be for Duke fanatics.

BDN Interviews Future Blue Devil Quinn Cook

Quinn Cook - Photo by Rick Crank for BDN

It's been a tumultuous six months for Quinn Cook. The jovial 6'1" D.C. area native won a Gold medal for the USA 17 U team in Hamburg, Germany, suffered a partially torn meniscus after falling awkwardly at the end of an exhibition game for television, began attending a new school in rural Virginia, committed to defending National Champion Duke, and became the leader of the mythical number one high school team in the country, Oak Hill. After this weekend's nationally televised loss to Milton HS of Georgia, a more somber Cook spoke briefly with Blue Devil Nation about his physical recovery, his transition to Oak Hill, his McDonald's All-American aspirations, and which players he's trying to recruit to Duke.

First of all, how's your knee right now?

It's a little sore, I mean, cold weather really makes it sore. I just wanted to try my best.

Are you close to a hundred percent?

I [private] don't know. I'm just trying to ice it, man. Just ice it and put as little stress on it as possible. I had surgery on it only three months ago. I was on crutches. A couple of months is just not going to completely heal it.

How's your recovery and rehab going?

It's been going good. Since we're in season, I can't do as much, but I still have to do balance and work on exercising it.

I've been there and I know it's remote, but do they have all the facilities you need there?

No, there's no facilities. It's just me using what we have there.

Just doing what you can. What are some things, like your upper body, you could work on while you were recovering from surgery?

I just have been lifting a whole lot more. Coach thought that was something that would help my game. So, since I've gotten to Oak Hill, I've added six or seven pounds. I've been trying to build and add to my upper-body, since my lower-body isn't there yet.

What's the transition from DeMatha to Oak Hill been like?

It's been great. It's just an honor to put on the Oak Hill jersey and to play for a great coach like Coach Smith. He's coached my idols like Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings. Guys I've watched film after and just tried to pattern my game after. They learned a lot from him so I try to be just like a sponge around him. He has so many great stories and great ways to make me better.

Was it hard for you to leave home? was that an issue at all?

Yeah, it was hard leaving my mom. She's a single mother, but she knows that I have to do what's best for me. It's tough being away at times. It's probably the hardest part about coming to Oak Hill, you know, being away from you mom and not being able to hug her at night.

Your mother was here tonight, though, right?

Yeah, she made this trip, but she doesn't come normally. It's actually like being in college because, when you're far away, you've got to get up on your own, be at class on time, and make your bed. You become a man.

Doron (Lamb) said that when he came to Oak Hill, he had to get used to almost always being the road team, always being booed, and being comfortable with target on his back.

Yeah, well, we had a target on our back at DeMatha, but it's just bigger here at Oak Hill. That's fun, though. You've just got to bring your 'A' game every night, though, as you can see. I mean we didn't play well tonight, but it's a long season. We just can't hang our head after one loss.

Yeah, you've just refocus your team and don't let one game carry over to the next. Talk about the matchup with Scott.

Shannon's a great player. I've had a lot of match-ups with him. I don't know what happened, but he's a heck of a player and he led his guys to the victory.

This is your fourth trip to the Hall of Fame.

Yeah, this is my fourth time and it's my favorite event because there's just so much history. I get goosebumps every time I walk into the Hall of Fame.

You can't help it if you love basketball.

Yeah, it's cool.

One of the goals you mentioned over the summer was to make the McDonald's All-American game.

Yeah, that's definitely one of the goals I set out for myself this year and hopefully that can still happen. I just pray that I didn't blow it tonight. Hopefully, I didn't though.

How do you feel your shot at making the game is now? You've had a very good career and a solid senior season so far.

I don't know. I didn't play well tonight. Hopefully, they look past tonight.

Can you talk about competition you face both in practice and in games?

Yeah, it pushes you because you're playing against the best players in the country every day, one way or the other. We play against the best and then we're all top-ranked players. It's very competitive and we're just trying to make each other better.

What, if anything, has the Duke staff asked you to work on?

Everything, but Coach K always says that he wants me to keep being the person off the court that I am.

A leader.

Yeah, a leader and to hit the books. The rest of it will take care of itself.

How do you account for your popularity among players in your class?

Well, I mean normally I'm a very outgoing guy. I'm just a little down right now, but, you know, normally I like to laugh and I'm always smiling.

Yeah, I know I'm so sorry to be bothering you after this game

No, that's cool. You know you get one life and so you never take anything for granted. I've had a lot of tragedy in my life.


I'm just trying to have fun and do the best I can.

Are you putting that winning personality to use and recruiting any players to Duke?

Yes (laughs)

All right, which guys?

Tony Parker, Shabazz Muhammad, and Murph.

Alex was watching you play tonight.

Yeah, he's my boy. Them three basically, but I'm happy to recruit anyone else who wants to come. Hopefully, they like what they see normally and want to join me

I'm sure they can see that you've got very good court vision and get your teammates involved. Thanks a lot for your time tonight. Just finish the season strong.

Absolutely, no doubt. [/private]

The Blue Devils Ryan Kelly Strives for Perfection

Kelly has been on a tear of late in the Blue Devils road wins over N.C. State and Wake Forest - Photo courtesy of Mike Bradely

WINSTON SALEM, NC - All players strive for perfection and the Blue Devil's Ryan Kelly has darn near achieved that in his past two games.  Today, Kelly dropped a career high 20 points on 6 of 6 shooting, and 4 of those were three point shots in Duke's 83-59 win over Wake Forest.

This past Wednesday, a single free throw kept him from perfection at N.C. State where he was 4 of 4 from the field to go with 8 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocked shots.  His totals for the last two games you ask?  Kelly has gone 10 for 10 from the field, 8 of 8 from the three point stripe, grabbed 14 rebounds, has 3 blocks, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Senior Duke star Kyle Singler said, "He's not really an athletic guy but he's long and he's able to make plays.  He just knows how to play the game and to have a guy like that on your team is a good thing and it's a big help for us of late.  He plays hard and spreads the floor for us on the offensive end and if left open he can really hurt you."

Duke has needed a third player to become a consistent offensive weapon and Kelly for now fits the bill.  When asked whether he could be the third option, Kelly told BDN, "I'll do whatever coach wants of me.  Today, on offense, I was getting open shots and they were falling."

In the post game, Coach Krzyzewski had this to say about Kelly, "He's just been good the whole season and since ACC play, he's gotten better every game.  He's a very reliable player, he doesn't get flustered and he knows where he is suppose to be on the court.  He's become more aggressive with his shot in the last week or so and that's where we want him to be.  He's a really good shooter and we want him to take it."

Kelly's last game was in front of his hometown folks in Raleigh and his play against a Pack team with their ears pinned back, helped Duke to a road win.  The Duke sophomore was happy to see he had recognition after that game and he's never at a loss for words when the media comes his way and that's something he clearly wants more of.

"I'm just working  hard before and after practice and have confidence.  And my teammates are finding me when I'm open and in the last couple of games I am knocking them down and if I continue to do that everything will fall into place." stated Kelly in the Duke locker room.

His recent success is making Duke fans forget his struggles with his shot just a few weeks ago, where the three ball just wasn't falling.    "It's mainly concentration and earlier this season I wasn't where I wanted to be but Coach Wojo has been working with me whether it be after practice, be it rebounding strong or going for balls and that's helped immensely."

Kelly is also starting to shoot the three ball at Duke more so than he did in high school.  "In high school I was bigger than most kids I played but was skinny.  Now that I have gotten to college, I've been asked to do certain things that have become a part of my skill set but I have to continue to get better.  I'm confident every shot I take is going in."

When I approached Kelly in the locker room today, he was slated to do the post game show with Bob Harris which more or less means he was the player of the game.  He gave a little laugh and lit up when I said, "Man, you had pretty much a perfect game."  Kelly, like most kids loves his chance to be in the limelight and when you do that at Duke, a true basketball school, it's likely even more satisfying for the whole nation knows of your exploits.

With more tough games ahead in conference play and a road game at St. John's, it would be nice  for Duke if Kelly stays consistent with his play on a team that needs other players not named Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith to step up.   "When I have an opening on offense I know my teammates and coaches are confident in me knocking them down.  I did tonight and that was always a good feeling."

You can bet that Kelly will continue to get the ball from his teammates provided he keeps nailing his shots and according to Krzyzewski, he expects even more from Kelly, stating to the media  "I think you'll see shot fakes and moves to the whole for he has good balance.  He's not a great jumping athlete but he's a player."

I asked Kelly how he could build on and continue his play of late and he exclaimed, "Just stay confident.  I'm not going to go 6 for 6 every game but I'll come to work and stay hungry and good things will happen."

Oaks Christian WR Blair Holliday is “100% on Duke”

WR Blair Holliday is "100% on Duke"

As signing day approaches, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to hold onto each of their 20 current verbal commitments and hoping to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. This past weekend, the Blue Devils hosted four of their current verbal commitments in Lucas Patrick, Blair Holliday, David Helton, and Jamison Crowder. BDN checked in with the visitors to get their thoughts on the visit to Durham and the Duke program.

In recent years, Duke has had a lot of success in recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. Current wide receivers coach Matt Lubick hopes to continue that trend, and secured a commitment back in August from Blair Holliday, a 6’3” wide receiver from Westlake Village, California. We last spoke with Blair just before his California sectional championship game in early December, and since that time, several PAC-10 programs have come calling, including UCLA.

BDN: I think since we last talked you played in a pretty exciting football game. Can you tell us a little about the game and the wild finish?

I guess it just lived up to all the hype. With them [Westlake] being so close, with them beating us the first game, the bragging rights that they thought that they had, and we got that redemption to play them again a second time for the championship. We were fired up and I’ll probably say that was the most exciting game of my life, biggest play I’ve ever made, biggest thing I’ve ever really done in my life was making that play. It was actually supposed to be a pass, but our guy was covered up so I just decided to take off and run it, and I got in. I guess the rest is history.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about how your official visit went to Duke and let us hear your thoughts on your trip to Durham?

It was great. Like I said, when I first went there I felt like I belonged there and like it was home. That was just from – I wouldn’t say an outsider’s perspective on the school, but that’s the closest thing I can say to it. But going there and taking the official, meeting the guys on the team, going out with them – it just clicked that that was where I needed to be. I found the guy I want to room with when I go out there. It was a really great time, like I said, I talked to the guys, told me how it is being there, how practices go, how school life goes, just how everything goes. I just felt like I fit perfectly in that situation, that place, that environment.

BDN: Who were some of the players that you were able to spend time with?

My host was Brandon Braxton. I don’t know many of the last names. Dezmond Johnson, I hung out with him. Again I don’t know last names, but I remember Isaac [Blakeney], Braxton [Deaver], and a lot of different guys. When I was there, David Helton was on the trip too and we hung out. He’s a fun guy so we talked about rooming and by the end of the trip we felt like we wanted to room together when school started or when we get out there and practice started.

BDN: I know some other schools have been recruiting you and with signing day coming up, can you clarify what your plans are?

I’m 100% on Duke. As soon as the letter is sent, I’ll be signing it.

BDN: That’s great. I really appreciate your call and getting to catch up with you. Best of luck with basketball season and the rest of your senior year.

Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

Blair’s game-winning two-point conversion in the final minute of the championship game was awarded the 2010 Play of the Year by

Click here for a recap of the play.

Click here for a video highlight of the championship game.

Duke at Wake Forest Game Notes

copyright Rick Crank/BDN

Game 19:
 Duke (17-1, 4-1 ACC) 
vs. Wake Forest (7-12, 0-4 ACC) Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 4:00 p.m. Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem

The Opening Tip

- Duke faces Wake Forest on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Tipoff is set for 4:00 p.m.

- The game is being televised by ESPN with Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (analyst) calling the action.

- Duke is ranked No. 4 in the AP and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while Wake Forest is unranked in both polls.

- The Blue Devils are looking to improve to 18-1 for the 11th time in school history. Duke has reached 18-1 in three of the last five seasons.

- Duke has won 35 of the last 37 games entering Saturday’s game with Wake Forest.

- Duke is looking for its 24th straight win in the state of North Carolina.

Duke-Wake Forest Series History

- Saturday’s game marks the 235th meeting between Duke and Wake Forest, making it the most-played series in the ACC.

- The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 157-77, but trail 10-9 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

- Duke’s last 12 wins in the series have been by 10 or more points.

- Duke has dropped two straight games in Winston-Salem and five of the last six contests at the LJVM Coliseum.

- Mike Krzyzewski is 55-16 at Duke against the Demon Deacons.

- The Blue Devils have won 22 of the last 27 meetings between the two schools.

- Duke and Wake Forest met for the first time on March 2, 1906.

Numbers Game

- Mike Krzyzewski is one of seven coaches in ACC history with a winning percentage above .500 in league road games. Coach K's .608 road winning percentage ranks fourth all-time, while his 135 career road wins are an ACC record.

- Duke has won 23 consecutive games in the state of North Carolina. The Blue Devils’ last loss in the state was at N.C. State on Jan. 20. 2010.

- The Blue Devils have had at least one player score 20 or more points in 13 straight games.

- Duke has collected 40 or more rebounds in four of the last five games. The Blue Devils are averaging 41.3 rebounds in six January games.

- The Blue Devils rank fourth in the NCAA in scoring at 85.9 points per game. Duke is 17-0 on the year when scoring 70 or more points in a game.

- Nolan Smith leads the ACC with nine games with 20 or more points scored. He has topped the 20-point mark in eight of the last 11 games and three times in league play.

- Sophomore Mason Plumlee has raised his rebound average by 5.5 rebounds per game from a year ago. He ranks fourth in the ACC in rebounding at 8.6 rpg. Plumlee ranks second in league play with 11.2 rpg. and 7.6 defensive rebounds per game.

- In conference play, senior Nolan Smith leads the ACC in scoring (23.2 ppg.), assists (6.0 apg.), steals (2.4 spg.) and minutes played (39.6 mpg.). He also ranks fourth in free throw percentage (.935) and ninth in field goal percentage (.443).

- Duke post players Josh Hairston, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee combined for 31 points, 28 rebounds (13 offensive boards) and eight blocks in Wednesday’s win over N.C. State.

Tennessee All-State WR Nick Hill ready to help Duke win ball games

Nick Hill is a 6'2" WR from Nashville

Since Head Coach David Cutcliffe’s arrival in Durham, there are two areas where Duke has performed particularly well. First, the Blue Devils’ prolific passing offenses have featured a group of All-ACC caliber receivers, led by players like Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon. Second, Duke has started to recruit well in Tennessee, signing players such as Conor Irwin and Dez Johnson. The Blue Devils hope these trends continue in 2011, and 6’2” Nick Hill, a 2010 TSWA All-State receiver from Nashville, TN seems to fit the bill. A physical receiver who runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, Hill has the speed and skills that should thrive in Cutcliffe’s pass-oriented offense. Hill committed to Duke in July after attending several college camps and receiving interest from multiple FBS programs. With signing day quickly approaching, BDN checked in with the talented receiver to get his thoughts on his senior season and the Duke program.

BDN: Can you give us a brief recap of your senior season?

This year, my senior year, it went pretty good. We made it to the quarterfinals. I think we had a lot shorter, well we probably should have made it to state, but we kind of got robbed. As far as an individual standpoint, I feel I did the best I could for the team. I had maybe 26 catches for about 600 or 650 yards and 7 touchdowns. I helped develop the other receiver, helped him get a lot better this year. I was receiving a lot of double and triple coverage and that helped him get on his road so hopefully he can do his thing next year. And that’s about it for this year.

BDN: What were some of the things you worked on this season to help prepare you for college?

Well, really, going hard in practice, we as receivers, because my junior year, a friend of mine that played on the football team with us passed away. Really now in practice we just go all out because you never know when it’s going to be your last play. We just tried to work hard every day in practice and give it all we had.

BDN: I know you’ve had a chance to visit Duke a couple times now. What are your thoughts on the Duke program and the season they had?

I think the coaching staff – well I really like them, that’s the first thing that stood out to me was the coaching staff. They’re real down to earth and family oriented. When I first met Coach Cutcliffe, I felt like he was a straightforward guy. He wasn’t just trying to feed me what I wanted to hear, but he was telling me the truth about how he felt about things and I really admire him for that.

Duke WR prospect Nick Hill makes a catch

BDN: You mentioned that Coach Roper recently visited you; what have you talked about with the coaching staff and what do you expect your role to be at Duke?

They see me as a big addition. They said that I’ll be able to help them win ball games. That’s the main thing. I want to help Duke win ball games and help out the passing game a little bit. Basically, I want to do whatever I can, whatever they need me to do to help the team win.

BDN: What are your plans between now and when you enroll at Duke next summer?

I’ll probably run track. We’re two-time state champions in that, so I’ll probably run track again this year.

BDN: That sounds great. Thanks a lot for your time, Nick. Enjoy the rest of your senior year and good luck in Durham.

Thanks a lot, you too.

Nick's highlight video can be viewed here.