Colorado WR Max McCaffrey, son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey and nephew of 1991 Duke National Champion Billy McCaffrey, was in Durham recently.

Football Friday: Mythbusters

You still haven’t joined BDN Premium? Man, you’re missing out!

collapsing the distinction between the exasperatingly silly and the charmingly naughty

…delivers plenty of wit, verve and surreal mayhem to entice…

A piece of fluff as artificially sweetened as a fuchsia Peep…

Thanks to its fondness for smushing together seemingly incongruous elements…is just demented enough to deliver a fleeting sugar rush… [private]

Surprisingly, those were the reviews for the movie Hop, not Football Friday, but I sure would have been honored. Oh well, I don’t let the critics read my column, anyway. We start on two down notes today, but we’ll rally down the home stretch.

Tornadoes hit the South this week, including this massive twister just outside Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

 

Deadly storms in the South

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the strong storms and tornadoes that tore through the South on Wednesday, claiming nearly 300 lives. Neighborhoods and communities have been severely damaged and destroyed. It will take many months to piece back together the lives of the families affected, and there are many noble organizations that have quickly mobilized relief efforts. Please consider donating your time, money, goods, blood – whatever you can – to help those in need: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, among many other deserving national and local groups. Head Coach David Cutcliffe, an Alabama native, will assist with a Time Warner Cable Recovery Drive today at 4 PM.

Anita Caldwell passes at age 103

There are only a select few who could honestly lay claim to the title “Duke Football’s Greatest Fan,” and Mrs. Caldwell would make the short list. The widow of former Duke Assistant Coach Herschel Caldwell, who came to Duke as an assistant one year before Wallace Wade, Mrs. Caldwell passed away this week on her 103rd birthday. A remarkable woman, Mrs. Caldwell missed only two Duke football home games in the past 77 years. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Good Samaritan Fund, c/o Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, 504 W. Chapel Hill Street, Durham, N.C., 27701 or to The Discretionary Fund, c/o Father Bert Eaton, St. Peters by the Sea, P.O. Box 337 Swansboro, N.C., 28584.

Recent visitors on campus

Colorado WR Max McCaffrey, son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey and nephew of 1991 Duke National Champion Billy McCaffrey, was in Durham recently.

In today’s recruiting, it’s a rarity for a prospect to commit to a school sight unseen. Thus, getting a prospect on campus for an unofficial visit, whether it’s for a game, a junior day, a summer camp or just a campus tour, is an important component of the recruiting process. In the world of emails, texting, and Facebook, there’s still no substitute for seeing coaches, players, and facilities in person. Even though spring practices are well behind us and the spring evaluation period is underway, three key prospects have been on campus over the past week.

Max McCaffrey: the 6’2” 180 pound wide receiver prospect from Highlands Ranch, Colorado made the trip to Duke with his mother recently. The son of former NFL and Stanford WR Ed McCaffrey, Max is also the nephew of former Duke men’s basketball player Billy McCaffrey, who transferred to Vanderbilt after the 1991 National Championship. Max and his younger brother, Christian (a rising sophomore running back) will look to lead Valor Christian to their third state championship this fall. Max currently has scholarship offers from Duke, Wake Forest, and Arizona State.

Eric Olson: Coach Luke would love to continue his success in recruiting talented offensive linemen, and Olson would certainly fit the bill. An athletic 6’6” 265 pound prospect from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Olson also played basketball briefly for Buckingham Browne & Nichols (per BDN’s Andrew Slater). Olson was on campus last weekend for an overnight visit, just a month after visiting for Duke’s spring game. Olson grew up a Duke basketball fan and the Blue Devils remain a major player in Olson’s recruitment, even though he is now up to 8 offers, including Boston College, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wake Forest, with interest from Northwestern and Stanford.

Dan Beilinson: If it’s good to get a prospect on campus for a visit, then it has to be very good to get a prospect on campus frequently. There are a handful of North Carolina prospects who have been frequent visitors to Wallace Wade Stadium, and the 6’5” 220 pound tight end Beilinson is one of them. Out of nearby Panther Creek in Cary, Beilinson has focused his visits so far on the three Triangle schools, and has developed a close relationship with the Duke staff. With some added weight, Beilinson has the tools to be a complete tight end that could thrive alongside current 2012 commit Erich Schneider in the Blue Devils’ prolific passing offense. The talented athlete already has five scholarship offers, including Duke, NC State, and Vanderbilt, with interest from Auburn, Florida, North Carolina, and Wake Forest.

Deconstructing some myths about Duke Football

Have you ever seen that show “Myth Busters?” I haven’t. I don’t even know what channel it’s on. If it’s any good, let me know. Anyway, most of us here at BDN, myself included, like to keep our fingers on the pulse of all things Duke athletics. Though happily entrenched here at BDN, I will admit that I occasionally do lurk on other free message boards to try to obtain some insight into the hearts and minds of Duke fans, especially when it comes to Duke football. As a self-admitted eternal optimist when it comes to Duke, it can be tough to read some of the unfounded criticism that is out there. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of room for criticism – when your last bowl game was in 1994, there’s obviously a lot of things wrong with the program. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. For those who have followed the program through the bad times, it’s hard not to see that things are heading in the right direction. I apologize in advance for my ranting, but I have to vent about some of the things I’ve heard and read recently about Duke football. Let’s take a look at some of the less-than-factual criticism from some of the more impatient Duke football fans:

Coach Cutcliffe has senior Donovan Varner and the Blue Devils expecting to win in 2011-GoDuke, Duke Photography

 

1. Coach Cutcliffe always speaks in hyperbole, creating unrealistic expectations.

First of all, what college head coach doesn’t? It’s basically in the job description. In Coach Cutcliffe’s case, he inherited a program defined by its culture of losing. Before you can succeed, you have to believe you can succeed, and that mentality has to be embraced throughout the program – from the administration to the coaching staff to the players to the fans. There’s no question that Coach Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job of changing the culture at Duke, to the point that coaches, players, and fans expect Duke to win games. Perhaps the best indicator of this is the incoming recruiting class of 2011 – several players have told BDN that they’re coming to Duke not just for the education or the chance to play football, but they plan on winning an ACC Championship. As for this year’s squad, when asked about the Blue Devils’ 2011 bowl chances, Cutcliffe said, “I don’t think there’s any question we’re at that level. We don’t have a huge margin of error just yet, but not anybody does, for the most part.” With a potent, veteran offense and a young, athletic defense, that sounds like a pretty fair assessment.

2. Duke has not been recruiting 4- and 5-star talent.

The correct criticism here is that Duke has not been bringing in 4- and 5-star talent, but it isn’t from a lack of effort. In the class of 2010, the Blue Devils offered at least 3 5-star prospects and 38 4-star prospects (and secured an initial commitment from LB Aramide Olaniyan). In 2011, Duke offered at least 4 5-star prospects and 51 4-star prospects (and nearly landed TE Cam Clear). While the class of 2012 rankings have yet to be released, Duke is going up against national powers for some of the top recruits and appears to be holding their own in at least a few cases so far. There’s no question that Duke needs to land some of these commits, and winning games will go a long way to helping that cause.

3. Duke has focused too much on regional recruiting.

There are two things wrong with this presumption. First, focusing on regional recruiting is probably the right thing to do. The majority of football players don’t go to school far from home, so it makes sense to spend a significant amount of time building relationships and recruiting within a home region. Let’s look at the number of in-state players on the rosters of four private schools that many love to compare Duke to:

Duke: 28%

Northwestern: 27%

Stanford: 37%

Vanderbilt: 12%

Wake Forest: 29%

If you expand those percentages to within a region (Midwest, Southeast, West Coast), they grow even larger, but it’s clear that Duke is not over-emphasizing in-state players relative to other schools. The in-state numbers are also similar when comparing the incoming class of 2011:

Duke 25%

Northwestern: 29%

Stanford 26%

Vanderbilt 24%

Wake Forest 19%

The second problem with the presumption is that it’s simply wrong. Less than one-third of the roster is from in-state, and with regards to recruiting, let’s look at the top states represented on the recruiting board, which contains only the players Duke actively recruited, from the past two years:

2011: AL (10), FL (37), GA (19), NC (50), NJ (7), OH (20), PA (8), SC (11), TN (11), TX (15), VA (14)

2012: CA (11), CO (5), FL (22), GA (16), MA (5), MD (10), NC (39), OH (23), PA (5), SC (12), TN (12), TX (6), VA (6)

Those numbers indicate to me that Duke is recruiting where the talent is, but by all means, please check my math.

There's excitement back in Wallace Wade Stadium - it's time to get on board the Duke Football bandwagon.

 

4. It’s still the same old Duke.

Bottom line, the talk of rebuilding our football program is getting tiresome to many fans, but progress is being made. The university has invested in the football program (check out our new indoor practice facility – sah-weet!) and fans are trickling back in to Wallace Wade Stadium, as season ticket sales have steadily increased. Even with a 3-win season in 2010, the Blue Devils have won more games under Coach Cutcliffe than they did in the previous 8 seasons (12 wins 2008-2010, 10 wins 2000-2007). No one is more tired of the talk than the players and coaches, who are ready to produce results on the field. Behind a strong offensive line, a solid stable of running backs, an All-ACC receiving corps, and arguably the best returning QB in the conference, this Blue Devil team has high hopes for the fall. There’s no question that the next step is to put together a winning season, and I can’t wait to find out if this Blue Devil team is tough enough to do it.

Seems like a good note to end on. WE ARE DUKE.

[/private]

In Depth Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Duke will face a lot of key questions this off season and we bring you the skinny on several key issues - BDN Photo by Lance King

The Duke Blue Devils will head to China this summer and BDN Premium has some details of interest for our members.  We also take a look at the latest on the basketball recruiting front, and we break down several key issues and questions the team will face in the coming months in our latest team and recruiting update.

The season just ended but it won’t be long before a bevy of freshman prospects become true Blue Devils.  Duke will have all of the freshmen come in early in order to get acclimated with campus life.  While the [private] times may vary for each player, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Austin Rivers, Michael Gbinije, Quin Cook and maybe another young man will all be on campus no later than mid-June.

Getting on campus early has always been a good thing for kids in order to play pick up ball and participate in local events like the NC Pro Am at N.C. Central University.  This year however, will carry extra off season significance in that the men’s team will be heading to China and Dubai where they are expected to play either four or five games.

Talk about timely!  Coach Krzyzewski and his staff saw this season coming and planned this long before any of us could have possibly realized the positive ramifications it would have  on a young, reloading team.  You see, Duke will be able to hold ten full throttle practices at their discretion before the trip takes place.  With 13-14 players expected at those sessions, Duke will have a jump on the process of  building team chemistry.

And there are many off season questions to be answered.  One we’ve brought up before is, who will run the PG position for the 2011-12 team? Quin Cook has all the tools but must adjust to the system and blend with the core returnees.  Tyler Thornton is tough as nails, played against Cook on many occasions in high school and he will certainly not roll over and give the position up to the freshman.  Then there is the possibility of Seth Curry getting time at the point in that it would be his position at the next level.  That would also allow for more firepower and combinations on the court.  And don’t think for one second that Austin Rivers will not be handling the ball or have it in his hands during key moments on the offensive end.

Another key question is who will be the captain(s) of this team? This question has puzzled some in the off season for there is no one name that simply jumps out at you when pondering the roster.  Can Seth become more vocal?  Will a Plumlee take a lead role?  How about the outgoing Josh Hairston?  Many questions lay in wait and that is why the summer excursion will be so vital to next year’s team.  Few “rah-rah” guys are on the team but it is not unusual for Duke to have quiet leaders, just look back at Kyle Singler.  A name we think might surface is junior Ryan Kelly in that he is a low maintenance, hard working player who does what he is told, but we’ll see and it will be fun to watch it all shake out.  “There is no timetable in naming Captains. We want to see who steps up and accepts that role,” stated a source as close to the team as one gets.

Some other questions answered will be what kind of offense will the Duke staff settle on this season?  Will they press more?  Will they run their offense through three or more players?  Can Austin Rivers be the go to guy as a freshman?  Will Mason Plumlee have the breakout season everybody thinks he can?  Will the ball go into him more?  Will Duke get out and run?  Can Duke develop more than the usual 7 or 8 players for the rotation with a deep team?  Will Miles step up as the lone senior?  The questions are endless and each will take on a life of its own.

Another key issue that many on our board and others talk about is who will redshirt?  First of all, a poster on the board asked how many redshirts can a team have and the answer to that is as many as they want each season.  “There is no limit on # of redshirts you can have. The only limit is the 13 scholarships we are allowed to give. Right now, there is no definite plan to redshirt anyone.  We want all of our guys to come in competing for spots and those decisions would not need to be made until next fall before our 1st game,” a source told BDN.  That means there are no set plans to redshirt Marshall Plumlee or say Alex Murphy.  Duke will allow and expect players to compete at their highest level and then they’ll take a look at their roster, season needs and depth at various positions.  And be sure to pay attention to the last part of the quote which stated it will be later rather than sooner before we know of the Blue Devils definite plans.

I have already stated that Duke will have ten practices before games but that is just part of the good news for team development.  Once Duke hits the road their is no limit to the amount of practices they can have.  That’s right! Duke can work the heck out of the guys and that will bode well come the early season in that it gives the staff a good idea of what they have to work with.

While pondering the journey ahead, it dawned on me that this would likely limit the amount of players that would participate in the N.C. Pro Am, the summer event we cover from end to end at NCCU.  I asked about it and was told they were uncertain how many players would participate in the event but that their time would be cut shorter than in the past. In short, expect some Duke players to participate in some of the games but at this time no firm plans have been made one way or another.

Who will wear #0? I don’t know.  In fact, Duke doesn’t even know what numbers the freshmen will wear yet.  I can, however, tell you that the numbers will be assigned before Duke heads to China.

Rasheed Sulaimon agreed to do a diary on the coming AAU and high school season for BDN.  He is working on his first entry.

What is up with DeAndre Daniels? All I can say is that the process of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s is taking place.  Daniels has in no way cooled on Duke, but he is taking his time and the staff is okay with that.  Several teams have turned up the heat of late, so there is fierce competition, but until I hear otherwise, I still feel Duke is right where they are supposed to be at this point in time.

What is up with recruiting in general? Not a lot of major changes since my last update on the subject.  The coaches cannot get out there again until the July period is over, meaning no open gyms, events and such.  But we can get out there and we will for you know you can count on BDN Premium to go to most of the major events, as well as covering the guys from a regional perspective. In fact, the irrepressible Andrew Slater is in the “D” known as Dallas for the Nike EYBL this weekend and you all know what that means!  In-depth interviews and superior board updates are Slater traits.  Quite often when one thinks of BDN, they come up with Watzone, a long time nickname I have had although I have never really gone by it.  I have been asked if it were italian, wat-zon-ne before but the best one was whether it was code for “what-zone.”  Anyhow, we have been introducing some new faces and we have plenty more to come but the staff will not zero in on those names until they can get out and see them in person.  Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker top the list still but others are being watched, evaluated and studied and we’ll let you know who the real prospects are and give you in person views.  Andrew and myself see the kids in person playing several games, mingle with sources and such.  Not to brag, but BDN has a pretty good one-two punch team not to mention tuned in posters and contributors. Add in our regional guys like Varand Kachadouri and others and you have the most unique premium site out there.

BDN Football Recruiting coverage needs more hype!  Those of you who follow football know just how good of a  job true Dukie Patrick Cacchio does with his tremendously informative Football Friday articles.  It hasn’t taken long for this site to set itself up as a true player in football recruiting and I will stack our dedication up there with anyone.  Spread the word that if you want to be a Duke Football Insider, this has fast become the place to be.

Changes and such. The season was overwhelming enough but then recruiting kicked in with little or no break.  I have mentioned that a few folks have inquired about bringing BDN in under their flag but as of now we have chosen to remain the best independent site out there.  Talks are ongoing but slow for we care about how content is presented and want to make sure if we ever join a group it is for the right reasons and it shares in our vision of bringing about the most intense, home-centric fan experience one can have.  I would also like to address site changes which are still in the works.  Our staff has had a hard time getting together on this due to unexpected events.  Susan Rego who holds the ship together will be headed for a long three week vacation in the coming days but once she is back and settled in, we will be tweaking the site and finally bringing you the database for prospects we’ve long promised.  I can assure you that a lot of thought has and will go into positive changes, making the site not just better but more user-friendly.  I am open to suggestions and you can e-mail me any thoughts concerning the site at watzonebdp@gmail.com.  Look for one change in the next week or so if all goes as planned where we have partnered with Duke Athletics.

Lastly, thanks for being a member of BDN Premium.  I feel BDN is bringing you the perfect balance of youth and wisdom these days.  Both Andrew and Patrick are in the under 30 club and they are true go-getters.  I bring experience from being around the program even before Coach K came in.  We have all forged genuine relations with top notch sources to bring you accurate, straightforward information you can bank on.  The site is steady as ever and the future is promising and we are glad you are a part of it.  Keep in mind that any member who refers new members of one year still gets their choice of Duke memorabilia or extended time on their membership.  We will clarify the program when changes come about.   Thanks for reading and Go Duke!

Note – I am sorry to address this but must …  Copy and pasting or sharing this article in any form without prior consent is a breach of the user agreement.  BDN reserves the right to ban any member who openly and willingly breaks rules set forth without refund as stated in the user agreement.  This is not a widespread problem, but we have had trouble with discussion on our private message board being  shared in other forums and articles in their entirety.  And a warning for those certain few with an ax to grind or some who may have been banned from BDN, we take slanderous statements seriously around here.   That kind of behavior is clearly a breach of the agreement you check when joining the site.  We ask that you please abide by the rules agreed upon.  In closing, we in no way advocate getting in board wars with members of other sites.  Please bear in mind that actions of our members reflect on the site as a whole and there will be no further discussion of other sites on our message board in a negative way.  We are taking the high road here and hope others follow. [/private]

Georgia Stars Coach talks Tony Parker and Alex Poythress

Tony Parker - Mark Watson BDN Photo

One thing you can generally count on is that the Georgia Stars  AAU Basketball team will have some big time college prospects on the team year in and year out.  BDN caught up to their well known head coach of 23 years Norman Parker recently where we talked about two of his studs.  Duke has long been after Tony Parker,Tony Parker a force in the paint and now  Alex Poythress has caught their eyes as well.

Talk about Alex Poythress for me.  He has really come on since last season and just joined the Stars this season.

He’s got great character an brings a wonderful attitude to our team and to be honest with you we are learning how to use him and fit him into to our offensive scheme.  I think our team will get better as we get used to [private] working with him as a team.  He is an outstanding young man that I think will be a future pro one day.

It is intersting to see just how much he has improved in a year.

We think he has improved a lot in one season.  I wanted him to come play with us to play the perimeter, not just wanting him to play in the paint because he does handle the ball.  He shoots the ball well and does a lot of things good handling the ball well to be 6-8.

He played really well in Hampton, especially when Parker went down.

He stepped up when Tony Parker could not play, he was our go to guy and I think you could see that more and more as games get on the line, we will have to use him and Tony.  Getting those two to play together will be a challenge but they are rooming together and like each other so we are beginning to build out chemistry and when you get two kids like that it take a while.

Tony reshapped his body in the off season in a big way …

Tony works really hard.  He works out daily.  He runs, he lifts weights, he does everything he can to get his body in shape and I told him during high school his body looks as fine tuned as I have ever seen him.  He’s big, got great hands, good footwork and he’s been a little injury prone.  We worry about that a little.  He didn’t play in any games in the final day in Hampton but we just have to be patient with that as he gets his back well.

You guys lost to a couple of really good teams this weekend, but seem to be in good shape to make it to Peach Jam or the NYBL Finals.

As we continue to grow, we’ll come together and make it to the Peach Jam.  The Georgia Stars always have and we’ll do it again especially when Tony and Alex continue to get accustomed to one another. [/private]

5 Questions for future Dukie Rasheed Sulaimon

We have several leftover questions on the cutting room floor from our recent AAU coverage where we chatted up Rasheed Sulaimon.  Here are five of those –

Are you glad the process is over now that you have selected Duke as your college destination?

Recruiting can be a very tiresome process but I felt like after I committed it was like a big weight being lifted off my shoulders and now I can help my AAU team get to Peach Jam.  I still get a few letters but it has died off some now.

I see you’re rocking a Duke shirt.  Do guys come after you harder now that you are a Blue Devil, trying to prove themselves if you will?

Yeah, yeah.  You know, it’s a big target on my back and everytime I step on the court people want to prove themselves against me.  It’s a big target on my back but it just gives me hungrier to go out there and play hard everytime.

You have a lot of desire, confidence in your game.  Where does that edge come from?

I get thart from my Father, he’s a very competitive guy.  Even growing up if we were playing checkers he wouldn’t let me win.  I get it from him a lot.  Everytime I step on the court I just want to win.

What area of your game has seen to biggest improvement since last season?

I think the biggest improvement has been my quickness.  I would use my length a year ago but now my quickness has helped me laterally.

Has the staff asked you to work on anything in particular?  Like ball handling?

Oh yeah, definately.  Right now I am only 6-4, so I will have the ball in my hands more.  I started doing that in my high school season and I am prety confident with my ball handling skills now.  I can play the point or off guard.

BDN goes 1 on 1 with prospect Austin Colbert

Austin Colbert spoke with BDN's Recruiting Anlyst Andrew Slater

Despite his 6’9″ frame and initial reputation as one of the nation’s top young big men, Austin Colbert has been able to develop at his own pace in the relative shadows of his older St. Patrick’s (NJ)teammates, Kyrie Irving and Michael Gilchrist. This spring, he has started to take the initiative and justify his early rep by playing harder and more consistently than he has in the past. His improved conditioning helped Colbert and his Team Final teammates win the recent 16U Championship at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest, where they had to battle through two difficult Sunday games, including a quadruple overtime semi-final win against Garner Road. In the semi-finals, the Chesapeake, Virginia native scored seventeen points. The articulate and amiable Colbert followed it up with twelve in a 65-61 Championship game win over CIA Bounce, using his relative mobility and basketball IQ to shut down 7’2″ Sim Bhullar.

After the game, we caught up with Austin Colbert to discuss, amongst other things, his self-assessment, the latest in his recruitment, and the recent change in long-standing leadership at his current high school.

How do you feel you’ve played, both from a team and an individual basis, so far?

As far as the team, we play team basketball. I think we’ve listened to our coach (Rob Brown) and he’s given us really good guidance and good direction. He’s helped [private] coach us through the different mishaps and, um..

Were there some close calls you felt along the way? Games where things could’ve gone one way or the other?

Definitely. Things could’ve definitely gone the other way as far as a shot or an individual possession or, on defense, getting us to close out and block shots, where positioning matters. Anything could’ve happened, but he really encouraged all of us to remain or stay focused.

You feel that he was able to guide you through the storm.

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And, as far as individually, I played all right. I’m more happy that we got the win, however, than me myself standing out in any particular game. I did feel pretty good coming into these last three playoff games, where I played really well in the semi-final game, where we won in quadruple overtime. In this game, I felt pretty good about how I competed against their big guy (7’2″ Sum Bhullar).

So, do you feel that you’re conditioning has improved significantly over the past year, which enabled you to play at a high level this deep into the tournament?

Yes, sir.

People are always curious about player’s size. What’s your current height and weight?

I’m 6’9 and about 205.

What are some individual goals or things that you’d like to work on this summer?

Some individual goals?

I want to be the best player that I can be. I want to be able to do all of the things that my body and mind will allow.

I’ve watched you at St. Patrick’s over the past two years and it looks like you’ve added, at least, some muscle this year. You know, a little bit.

Yeah, a little bit.

I’m trying to give you a little credit here.

(laughs) Yeah, but we’ve still got a long way to go. As far as individually, I want to become more skilled. I want to be able to put the ball on the floor, shoot off the dribble, and block shots.

How about rebounding inside?

Yes, that’s something that I’ve got to improve upon. Good point. I’ve got to continue to develop mentally as well. Just approach each game with that killer mentality.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s, how do you feel that playing alongside some great players at an early age like Kyrie Irving, Mike Gilchrist, Dakari Johnson, and solid players like Derrick Gordon and Chris Martin       has helped you improve individually and in terms of learning how to play alongside other quality players in a relatively structured environment?

(pauses) What an experience is all that I can say.

That’s what I mean. Frankly, even at this level, a normal elite-level player does not get or enjoy that opportunity.

Exactly, you have to be exceptionally lucky. I feel that I was lucky and blessed, I should say, to be put in that position where I’m playing alongside Kyrie Irving, Michael Gilchrist, Derrick Gordon, Chris Martin and especially because they talked with us and helped guide us.

Right, there’s a tendency for outsiders to view it almost as mercenaries gathering together to compete, each only concerned with his individual role.

Yeah, it’s not like we just played together and won. We were brothers and have become very close along the way. It’s just been a pleasure.

Fans are always interested in recruiting. Who’s after you the hardest right now?

So far, I know that Pittsburgh and Xavier have offered me and Seton Hall as well. As far as interest, I’ve got a little bit of interest from Duke.

Did they come up and watch you or just start to communicate with you?

I guess I should’ve said that when they when they came up and watched Kyrie that they were also watching me.

Oh, okay, I just wanted to get clarification on that one. What sort of timeframe do you have for when you’d like to decide on a college?

I’d like to decide probably by the end of my Junior summer.

Who will be some people that will be important in ultimately helping you to decide?

My mother, definitely my father, and my trainer, Coach Joe.

And you’re from Virginia originally?

Yes, sir.

And where in Virginia are you from?

Chesapeake, Virginia, sir.

What was it like for your family when you made the decision to come up to New Jersey and Saint Patrick’s?

A lot of people don’t realize this, but I didn’t come up here for basketball or basketball-related things. I came up here for my family..for my great-grandmother and my grandmother. I came up here to be near them and be around them.

These are the little things that you learn by asking questions.

Yes, sir.

In terms of Coach Boyle leaving, it’s obviously a big transitional period for the program. Were you shocked by what happened and what does it mean for you individually? I know this is a sensitive issue right now so I don’t want to put you in a tough spot.

I mean I was a little shocked, but he has to do what’s best for his family and I can only respect that.

He got a great deal.

Yeah, he did and we still see him around St. Pat’s and I respect him a lot. I respect him a lot.

What about you individually? Are you going to stay, you might move on, or is it still up in the air?

So far, it’s still up in the air, but I’m leaning towards staying here. I will probably still think about my decision, though.

Can you address adaptability? You’ve moved once so far. How do you think your adaptability  differentiates you from your peers and will help you adjust in college?

I think my high basketball IQ has something to do with that. Being able to pick and choose my spots and being able to think the game through a little bit. That definitely helps.

What do you think is your greatest strength right now?
Running the floor..
 (A Team Final coach tells Colbert that he has to go)

Toughest opponent?

My toughest opponent has been Michael Gilchrist.

Lastly, relating back to recruiting, would you be open to Duke, should they begin to recruit you?

Of course, of course.

There’s a belief that you really liked North Carolina and, as a result, might not necessarily be receptive to Duke.

I mean I like North Carolina, but, in anything, I’ve always tried to keep my options open and look at things with an open mind. I think some people shortchange themselves.

Thanks very much for your time, Austin. I really appreciate it.

No problem. [/private]

Brookwood RB Nick Tompkins has a long list of offers, including Duke

Duke offers elite RB Nick Tompkins

Brookwood RB Nick Tompkins has a long list of offers, including Duke

After the emergence of young stars Desmond Scott, Josh Snead, and Juwan Thompson in 2010, the Blue Devils are looking for their next great back in the class of 2012. The Duke staff has been aggressive in recruiting elite running backs, including an offer to Georgia standout Nick Tompkins. Tompkins is a 5’10” 175 pound running back from Snellville, GA. After leading Brookwood to a 2010 state championship with 1,890 yards and 22 touchdowns, the speedy junior took home several postseason honors, including Offensive Player of the Year. Tompkins has stayed busy this spring with recruiting visits as offers continue to pour in for the elite athlete. Highlights from his junior year can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths for fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play?

My strengths, well, I have a lot of speed, I’m a speed back. I run low to the ground, I have very good vision and once I break through the line, I never get brought down. Even though I’m like 175, I still break tackles, I rarely go down on first contact, I’m a hard runner too.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

Just trying to get a little big bigger, get a little bit stronger. That’s really about it. Working on some route running because a lot of schools want to be able to use me in the slot also, they want to be able to use me as an all-purpose back.

BDN: What are some of your goals for yourself and your team in your senior season?

You know, try to win another state championship, go back-to-back, that’s all I would say.

BDN: As you look at your college decision, what are the most important factors you are looking for in a school?

First and foremost the coaches, especially the coaches that I’ll be spending the most time with there. I want them to be good people, honest, you know just nice to be around. And also I look at the players, I also like to look at the up and coming class, the 2011 class, talk to some of those guys because those are the guys you’re going to be playing with. I also look at academics, I want to major in business so I’m looking for a school that has a good business school. I also look at the campus life and I’m looking for a place that could feel like home to me.

BDN: I know there are a lot of schools who have offered you, but which schools have you been in contact with the most often?

Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Indiana, I recently got offered by Michigan State yesterday, so I had actually been talking to them before and then they offered yesterday. Last week I kind of started talking to Florida State, they haven’t offered but they want me to come to camp.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools, or do you have any visits planned?

I went to Georgia Tech’s spring game last weekend. The weekend before that I visited Arkansas. And I’ve visited Clemson. This next week I’ll be visiting Maryland for their spring game and then I’m planning to visit Boston College, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and a few other schools, so I’m going to be really busy the next few weeks and over the summer traveling.

BDN: You mentioned the coaching staff being one of the most important things you’re looking for in a school; are there any coaches that you feel you have a particularly good relationship with at this point in the process?

Well, Georgia Tech’s staff. The only three schools that I’ve visited that have offered are Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. Of those, I feel like Georgia Tech, I have a great relationship with their coaching staff. I’ve been up there three or four times now, know my way around quite well. I’ve built a great relationship with the coaches, I’ve talked to [Head Coach] Paul Johnson and know him personally. I’d say Georgia Tech has probably been the best in that aspect. But I’ve been getting mostly written letters from a lot of these other schools that have offered and I haven’t really got to talk to them in person because I haven’t visited them yet, so I’m going to wait and see how that goes.

BDN: You’ve obviously got a lot of great opportunities in front of you and you’ll be busy over the next few weeks and months; how and when do you plan on narrowing things down to make a decision?

Probably, definitely after I visit enough schools I’ll start narrowing it down by mid to end of June. Then I’ll try, my goal is to try and commit somewhere before my football season starts but I can’t guarantee that yet.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Nick, and best of luck.

Thanks, I appreciate it.