Getting to know Duke prospect Nate Britt

It’s been a pretty good year for sophomore Nathaniel Britt II, the son of a detective in the financial crimes unit of the Washington D.C. police department. He took over the reins from current Duke freshman point guard Tyler Thornton, his predecessor at both D.C. Assault and Gonzaga HS, an academically-challenging Jesuit school in our nation’s capitol. In his first year on the job, the 6’1″ lead guard was named D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year, an award that tries to take into account on and off-the-court achievements., and first-team All-WCAC.

The left-handed point guard led Gonzaga to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference  Championship game and scored 16 points in the game, but lost 51-48 to arch-rival DeMatha, as the team was undermanned with Kris Jenkins, a first-team All-WCAC selection, rendered helpless due to an injury in the prior game. For the season, Nate Britt averaged nearly 14 points, over 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and nearly four steals per game. Often viewed as a cerebral player for his class, Britt had a better than four to one assist to turnover ratio in his sophomore campaign. (2701 word interview ahead) [private]

Kris Jenkins, a bulky 6’6″ South Carolinian transplant, met Nate at an AAU event several years ago and, although they were on opposite teams, they immediately hit it off. Jenkins went to spend some time in Maryland with the Britts, joined D.C. Assault, and ultimately moved into the Britt’s house full-time. Jenkins’ mother, Felicia, the head coach at Benedict College in South Carolina, liked the discipline that Nate Sr. demanded of the boys. They began to attend Mater Dei in Bethesda, MD for middle school and were ultimately joined by 6’5″ D.J. Fenner, son of veteran NFL receiver, Derrick Fenner. The trio have built chemistry and brought their winning ways to Gonzaga. Several colleges, including Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Virginia Tech, are recruiting all three Gonzaga and D.C. Assault sophomores.

At the recent Pittsburgh Jam Fest, Nate Britt led D.C. Assault Gold to (2686 word interview awaits) [private] the Elite 8 of the tournament. Losing 67-61 to All-Ohio Red in the quarterfinals on Sunday morning, Britt scored ten of his fifteen points down the stretch, while trying to close the ultimately insurmountable gap. Twice during the tournament, the personable Nate spoke with us.

Which colleges are most interested in you?

Which colleges are calling? Oh, UCLA, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Villanova, Arizona, Virginia. Oh, and Texas and Duke.

Can you talk about winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award for D.C?

Oh, yeah, that was a great accomplishment. Tyler did that. We’ve had it at Gonzaga for, like, the last three years.

Yeah, you, Tyler (Thornton of Duke), Ian (Hummer of Princeton), and Max (Kenyi of Harvard)

That was good. It was a great accomplishment and I was really surprised by that.

Especially as a sophomore..

Yeah, exactly, as a sophomore, I didn’t really expect it.

Can you talk about your season overall?

The Gonzaga season? Sure, it was a pretty good season, I guess. We lost in the championship game to DeMatha. That was a tough one to take because it was so close.

Well, (Kris) Jenkins was out hurt with an injury and suddenly couldn’t play.

Right, but we pretty much had a young team. So, next year, we’re bringing a lot of good people back. Our best players are coming back. So, we’re fully expecting to win it next year.

Lauren of NBE: What are you focusing on improving this spring?

Knocking down the three-point shot. That’s my biggest thing that I want to improve on and focusing on getting stronger. I feel like I can get to the basket anytime I want, but I need to be able to add strength so I can find my teammates and score even more around the basket. I’ve just got to focus my energy on improving my three-point shot. I definitely want to be able to knock down the three-point shot more consistently and have confidence in it.

You may’ve felt as you touched on this in the prior question, but what do you think is your greatest strength right now or the thing that distinguishes you from your peers?

Yeah, sure, I think my strengths right now are being a playmaker, being able to get my teammates involved. You know being able to get them shots and being able to get myself shots. I guess, in terms of my weaknesses, I’d say it’s just shooting the three and being able to knock it down with confidence. That’s my biggest thing…adding confidence in being able to shoot it.

What about your mid-range? Do you feel okay about that?

Oh, yeah, I feel okay about that, but it’s also something I’d like to be able to concentrate on this summer. I’ve been trying to work everyday to get ready for next year.

What did Coach Turner ask you to work on over the summer?

Oh, yeah, he just said to just consistently work on developing my three-point shot. Just keep working at it. That’s the number one goal. Yeah, yeah.

What about visits? Do you have any planned? Which ones have you taken?

I’m planning on Texas soon. I was supposed to visit this spring, but we’ve been real busy with AAU this spring. I went to Duke at, like, the beginning of the year.
 

With Tyler Thornton?

Yeah, with Tyler, that was pretty cool. That was real fun. I went down to Virginia and that was real fun. And Virginia Tech. So, I definitely want to go to Texas sometime this summer. Hopefully, it won’t be too hot down there.

Another honor you earned recently was being named First-team WCAC. That was another major achievement for a sophomore.

Right, I was also really surprised about that too, but it was a great accomplishment. Us being one of he better teams at Gonzaga, I guess they felt several of us should be candidates, and I was fortunate to be named.

Well, you were the straw that stirred the drink this year.

Thanks.

Tell the audience about your unusual relationship with Kris Jenkins and D.J. Fenner. How you guys came together from different areas of the country, went to middle school at Mater Dei together, go to high school together, and whether you plan on attending college together?

We definitely talk about it. I mean we met in middle school and then we took that onto high school.

Can you explain to the audience how you guys met in AAU?

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.  When I first saw Kris was when we played against him in South Carolina and we played each other in the Nationals. we met him and then he started playing with us. Then, D.J. moved back here because his father is from here.

 

Then, he moved back to Seattle.

Yeah, and then he moved back here. Then, he started playing with us. Then, we started playing in school together and we played with D.C. Assault together. We created a bond and we wanted to take that to high school. That’s definitely something we want to take to take to college, if possible.

Are colleges consciously going after all three of you at this point?

Oh, yes.

Have you talked about it and are you serious about it?

Oh, yeah, we’re definitely serious about it. That’s definitely something we want to do.

Do you have a timeframe for when you want to decide on a school?

Oh, I’m not really sure, but maybe sometime in my junior year. That’s pretty much when I’m hoping for. Right now, I’m just taking it all in and enjoying the visits.

As a lefty, what kind of advantages do you think you have on both sides of the ball, especially when you first go out there?

Oh,  I think it’s harder to guard left-handed players
 

Because you don’t see it as often.

Right, because most people are right handed. So, when you face someone left-handed, it’s a little bit harder and that can just be the edge you need.

And do you think it gives you an advantage defensively? In boxing, for example, my father used to talk about watching out for southpaws because you’re simply not used to getting hit so hard from that side.

(laughs) Right, yeah, I think it does because I’ve been playing against right-handers me whole life, but, being a lefty, I know how to guard left-handed players too.

What’s your current size?

I’m 6’1″ and 165, but I definitely want to hit the weight room this summer and get stronger. Add muscle

What are you projected to be by the doctor?

(laughs) I haven’t been to the doctor’s in a while, but I know I want to add some muscle before I head into next season.

Can you tell the audience about your father? He’s a detective. Do you have any interest in following in your father’s footsteps after your basketball career is over?

(laughs) No, no, I don’t think I’m going to go into that.

Your father comes up a lot with people I either talk to or in articles written about you. They say Nathaniel Britt. I assume he’s going to play a big role in your decision. Is he a real role model for you?

Yeah, he’s definitely my role model and my best friend.

You’ve grown up around a lot of quality point g your game after?uard, but who do you try to model

I would say my favorite player is Kyrie Irving.

I know Kyrie. He’s from my area.

I’d like to model my game after him.

That’s a good model and he’s a great kid.

Yeah, he is. I also like to watch Rajon Rondo. Some people say I play like Deron Williams. Those are my favorites. Kyrie especially and Rondo’s got a similar body type.

Deron’s like 6’3″ to 6’4″

Yeah, he’s a big guard, but Rondo is like me 6’1″ and about 175.

How do you feel about the legacy of DC Assault guards and how it really seems to pass down knowledge and work ethic from year to the next? You know Tyler Thornton from Gonzaga and then Quinn Cook last year.  For an AAU program, they’ve been very good at building a sense of brotherhood and community with players, coaches, and the parents.

That’s been really great because all of them are my brothers. It really started with Austin Freeman and Nolan. Because we’ve all been in the program since we were very little and all of them are like brothers to me. We started out really young and have just stayed very tight through the program. From when I first met Kris in South Carolina, I was in the program.I grew up just looking up to Nolan and Austin.  When I visited Duke, I was with Nolan, like, the whole time.

He’s a great guy.

Yeah, he is. And then Georgetown’s right around the way from me.

Markel Starks?

Markel (Starks) is like a brother to me. I hang out with him. Then, Tyler and Cedric Lindsey and I all went to Gonzaga and DC Assault together.

Are you guys still close?

We’re all very close. Before the championship game, me and Tyler were talking for a little while. Giving me advice.
 

Even though he’s a DeMatha guy, what about Quinn?

(laughs) Quinn went to DeMatha and he was there, but we’re all very close.

Going back to the visits, give the audience a sense of what the experience was like. What did you see? What did you do?

Oh, okay, well, I think the first one was Duke. I went to Duke and I was with Tyler the whole time. Tyler’s like my brother, like I said with D.C. Assault, Gonzaga, and all that, and he just showed me all around. We went to the football game and, when I was there, we saw them play Alabama. I went to that game and it was a good atmosphere. It was. It was. I think the next morning we just hung out and went to the cafeteria.

You spent the night at his place.

Yeah, I spent the night in his place in his dorm.  It was a lotta fun.

So, you were there with Kyrie and Josh too.
 

Yeah, it was awesome. We was all having fun. It was great.
 

How is their dorm room? Is it nice?

It is nice. It’s a big room with three beds. It’s pretty nice.

Where did you go next, Virginia?

Yeah, I went to Virginia after. We went to their football game. They played…who’d they play? I think they played James Madison. Yeah, they played James Madison. We went to that football game and toured around their campus. Then, we came back.

Who did you meet there?

I met the coach. I met the coach and then we watched the practice.

At Duke, did you meet the coaches or strictly the players?

Just the players.

Back to Virginia, you met with the coaches.

Yeah, I met with the coaches. I went with my coach, my high school coach, Steve Turner, and then later we came back that night.

He’s a great coach.

Yeah, he is.

 

Now, on that trip, was it you and Kris?

Yeah, it was Kris, D.J., and I. At Duke, it was just me.

 

After that trip, where next?

After that, we went up to Villanova for their…what is it? Like their Midnight Madness, it was called Hoopsmania. We went up there for that. It was fun and we had a great time. I liked it a lot. I got to watch a scrimmage.

 

Did you get a chance to play with the players at all?

No, not there, but, when I went to Duke, I think I probably did a little bit.

Have you seen any since Philadelphia? Georgetown? You’re so close.

Yeah, I always go over to Georgetown. It’s just so close, but I just basically go over to Georgetown and hang out with Markel.

 

Do you want to touch on Georgetown?

Yeah, I mean I always want to stay close to home. I don’t want to go too far.

Are you a homebody?

Yeah, yeah.

Is distance going to be a major factor for you? How far is “far?”

Yeah, it’s definitely gonna be a factor. Um, I’d really like to stay on the east coast, but, if the opportunity is better somewhere else, I’m going to take it. I’d definitely like to stay on the east coast. (laughs)

What are you looking for ideally in a program?

A place that I like the coaches personally, a coach that puts the ball in his guard’s hands, and a place that feels like home.

Now, we know you don’t want to be a detective with the DC police, but do you have any interest in going into coaching in the future?

Yes, yes, that’s definitely something I want to do. Yeah, absolutely, I feel like I’m a real heady ballplayer and person.

That’s why I asked.

Right, right. That’s definitely something I’d like to do.

At what level?

I think first at the high school level, but I’d definitely like to coach in college. That’s where I want to be.

By the way, as a current player, do you think Coach Turner will eventually coach in college?

Oh, yeah, I think he will because he’s a great coach He knows what he’s doing.

If you don’t go into coaching, what would you like to do after basketball?

I love science so I might want to do something in science. I’m good at science and math, but, like I said, I’d like to go into coaching or maybe training.

 

So, you think you’re in good shape?

(laughs) Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe personal training

Which schools are the ones that are recruiting all three of you?

Georgetown is recruiting all three of us. 1 Hall and I think Virginia Tech. I know there’s more, but I’m not absolutely one hundred percent.

Lastly, do you guys have a nickname? The trio? Three amigos? Something cheesy?

(laughs) No, no, we don’t have anything yet, but we gotta come up with something.

Alright, thanks, Nate.

Sure, sure. [/private]

Duke hopes to add another talented California WR in Jonavaughn Williams

California WR/DB Jonavaughn Williams has a Duke offer

Duke hopes to add another talented California WR in Jonavaughn Williams

With Duke’s prolific passing offense, it’s no surprise that the Blue Devils have had success recruiting and developing talented wide receivers in Durham, most notably All-ACC performers Eron Riley, Donovan Varner, and Conner Vernon. After adding California WR Blair Holliday in the class of 2011, the Blue Devils hope to continue that trend in the class of 2012, and have offered another top California receiver. Jonavaughn Williams is a 6’0” 197 pound WR/DB prospect from Jserra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA. As a junior, Williams caught 5 touchdowns and received All-Trinity League honors. Highlights of 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?

For DB, I’m bigger, I’m 6’0” and weight 197, so I’m bigger, which helps me fight with the bigger receivers that I play against. Also, the toughness that Jserra brings to the table for an athlete. Also, the league that I play in with Servite and Mater Dei and all these good schools out here, it definitely helps me mentally be a better player.

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

Right now I’m working on my speed definitely, that’s the man thing I’m working on. I’ve been working in the sports lab at my school just stretching and getting a lot faster so that I can be prepared to compete at the college level.

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

The goal for my senior season is to make the playoffs because we’re a relatively new school and we haven’t made the playoffs yet, so that’s a main goal for my team and I, to make the playoffs this year.

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

In a school, I’m definitely looking for location and the weather, but moreso for how they treat their athletes as far as housing and academics, tutoring, so academics is a big part, and that they treat you like a student, not just an athlete.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest or most often?

I’ve been offered by four schools, and that’s Duke, Arizona State, Washington, and San Diego State, but I’ve been in contact with some smaller schools like Northern Arizona and a few smaller schools like that.

BDN: You mentioned location being important; do you have a preference to stay on the west coast?

Well, it doesn’t really matter to me, just wherever I feel comfortable. I just want to visit as many schools as I can so I can find out if I like the east coast or I like the west coast, or south or north, whichever place fits me the best.

BDN: Have you had a chance to make any visits or do you have any visits planned?

Definitely I have plans for visits. I’m trying to go up to Washington for their spring game and get out to Arizona State for their spring game. I went to a camp at UCLA and that campus was beautiful. I’ve been to San Diego State, competed at a couple tournaments there, and I’ve been at USC. All these schools are beautiful and nice, but I’ve just got to find my place.

BDN: Do you have any plans for east coast visits?

Yeah, they can be expensive, so I’m planning on my east coast visits for officials.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I’ll probably make a decision before the new year, definitely. I want it to be set in stone so I won’t have to worry about where I’m going to college. I just want to try and get out to as many schools as I can. I want to get it done before the new year, definitely.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

About me personally, I work really hard, I’ve been competing very well, you have to work all year. Football in the summer,  getting up at 6:15 for football in the morning and then doing it again in the afternoon, it’s just a grind, but it’s finally paying off for me with these offers. I just have to put the work in to be successful.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jonavaughn, and best of luck to you.

Thank you, sir.

 

BDN takes you behind the scenes with Andrew Wiggins

BDN takes you up close and personal with Andrew Wiggins - BDN Photo by Lance King

If you follow recruiting you have no doubt heard the buzz about Canadian Andrew Wiggins, a talented sophomore wing forward.  Wiggins has been wowing folks be it on the AAU circuit for CIA Bounce or the Jordan-Brand International game where he was named MVP.  BDN took in his games at Boo Williams and followed his play up when we attended this past weekends Jordan-Brand affair.  We bring you up close and personal with Wiggins where you can  see BDN Premium exclusive footage as he talks recruiting and more, giving [private]  a fan a good idea of who he is.  This is the first two parts of three total, and the meat is yet to come.  Get to know Wiggins with these two vids while we prepare the other and dig up out interview with him from Boo Williams.

More to come … [/private]

Duke has offered top TE Evan Baylis

TE Evan Baylis has a Duke offer, along with several west coast schools

Duke has offered top TE Evan Baylis

Tight end is a position that Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Middleton hope to develop into a consistent strength within the Duke offense. In the past few seasons, Duke has featured a dynamic group of tight ends, including Brett Huffman, Brandon King, and Cooper Helfet. The Blue Devils will add freshman David Reeves to the depth chart this fall, and are looking at several prospects in the class of 2012. Along with verbal commit Erich Schneider, Duke has offered top TE Evan Baylis. Baylis is a 6’6” 225 pound prospect from Aurora, Colorado. 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?

I guess I’d have to say my footwork and feet for how tall I am. And my aggressiveness, maybe.

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

Putting on some weight, I’ve actually gained 20 pounds and just adding some strength and speed.

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

I want to go as far as we can in the playoffs, maybe win state if we can. For myself, I want to try and get All-State, I got honorable mention last year.

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

I’m looking at the tradition of the school, how well I get along with the coaches and the coaching staff, the campus, and how they use the tight ends in their offense.

BDN: Do you have a preference for a specific type of offense?

No, not really.

BDN: Which schools have you been in contact with the longest or most often?

Probably CU, Boise State, Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford.

BDN: Have you had a chance to visit any schools this spring?

I’ve been able to get out to CU, CSU, Boise State, Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned for this spring or summer?

None are planned, but I’m definitely going to try and see some other colleges, I’m not quite sure yet.

BDN: Do you have an idea for when you would like to make your final decision or how you would like to narrow your list down?

I definitely am going to want to make it before my senior year, probably sometime in the summer.

BDN: Have any schools stood out to you at this point in the process, either on your visits or through your contact with the coaches?

On all my visits, I’ve gotten along with the coaches really well with everything they’ve shown me is great. They’re all good choices and the coaches are all really nice, so it’s tough to choose.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Evan, and best of luck to you.

Alright, thank you.

 

Mitch McGary opens up to BDN

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – On the windy banks of Lake Michigan, Mitch McGary grew up in Chesterton, Indiana, a town known for its sandy dunes and being the birthplace of comedian Jim Gaffigan. He had a solid high school career at the local public school and enjoyed spending his summers on the beach and playing for SYF, a Gary, Indiana-based AAU program. Through his play on the court, he generated interest from programs in the Big Ten and Big East.

Last year, as his eighteenth year was approaching and college eligibility was looming, he and his family made the decision for Mitch, the youngest of five, to spend the next two years at Brewster Academy, a scenic New England prep school that kisses the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee with a burgeoning reputation as a basketball powerhouse. The decision to transfer schools was educational in nature, but with the added athletic benefit of competing with seven other Division I caliber players in the currently toughest high school basketball conference in the country, the NEPSAC. In his first semester, McGary, who has dealt with ADD,  earned a place atop the honor roll. On the court, by mid-December, he was known throughout the conference as a bruising energy guy for the nation’s top-ranked prep school team and easily the league’s best “sixth man.”

Despite playing in a league where teams routinely feature multiple Division-I signees or recruits, Brewster Academy achieved a thirty-one game winning streak over the past two seasons, which was only snapped after a tough road loss to St. Thomas More, a team featuring six scholarship players, including the consensus top ranked junior, Andre Drummond. This was a game that Duke Assistant [private] Coach Nate James nearly attended. The veteran squad rebounded and won six more in a row, including a resounding 94-38 victory over Winchendon in the NEPSAC Class AAA Championships quarterfinals. In that game, the 6’10 250 lb. McGary scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead Brewster to a 30-1 record on the season. Unfortunately for the Bobcats of Brewster Academy, they would lose two of their last three and ultimately close out the season by suffering a narrow four-point defeat in the semi-finals of the National Prep Championship to Notre Dame Prep.

Over the course of the season, McGary added 30 pounds of mostly muscle and significantly dropped his body fat percentage, while developing into one of the top high-energy low-post wide-body prospects in the country. At the recent Pittsburgh Jam Fest, Mitch opened a lot of eyes and raised expectations of some analysts, that had not seen him play in person since early November, through his inspired and skilled play over the weekend. He led his program, SYF, to the Championship of the silver medal round, a round for teams that finished second in their pool play. Throughout the event, Mitch was kind enough to speak with us about a variety of topics to get a better sense of who he is.

Which schools are recruiting you?

Duke, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Florida St., Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Marquette, West Virginia, UConn, Xavier, and Cincinnati.

Talk about some of the passes you threw today and adding another wrinkle to your game.

I don’t know. In the old days, on my old team, I used to kind of just take the rebound and try to bring it up the court, but nowadays (laughs) people are quicker to the ball or I can’t handle the ball quite like I used to, but I got a little bit taller and so I’ve tried to get a lot better at my outlet passes. I’ve tried to add that to my repertoire.

Can you talk about the transition of going to Brewster and how much it has improved your game?

The transition to going to Brewster was a big step for me. Leaving home and going out on my own. I went there because of my grades, but, personally, my grades are now fine. I’ve tried to get stronger and I’ve gained like thirty pounds. I feel healthier than ever. I just need to work on my shooting a little bit more. My post moves are pretty solid, but I just didn’t get the ball in the post a lot today. We were kind of, like, running and gunning a lot today. So, we might slow the game up a bit and I can show you my post work in a game.

Speaking about your improved body, although you didn’t get the ball in the low post, it seemed like because of your motor, you got a lot of second-chance points tonight.

Well, yeah, I mean today wasn’t the best game (15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocked shots). I mean I’m tired from traveling and all I had to do today. I mean a couple of flights and whatever, but I was fortunate to score off of hustle. I should be able to do better tomorrow, but I’m glad we got the win. My motor should be going one hundred percent tomorrow morning. I should be able to have a better game than I did today.

Speaking of travel, do you have any visits planned in the near future?

Not really, I mean I’ve talked about going down to Cincinnati. Getting out to Maryland. Getting out to Florida, Arizona, and Texas. I’ve been to  Illinois, Marquette, Purdue, and Indiana so far.

Do you have any sort of timetable for those visits?

Not really. Just some time this spring, summer, or fall. I’ll probably be making my decision next fall anyway.

Playing at Brewster, with that schedule and on a team with a ton of talent (7 high-major Division-I players), how much has that elevated your game?

Just the intensity in practice was amazing. It was frankly just another level of play from my prior school. I mean, compared to my old high school team, I can’t even explain how great the difference was and is. I can’t even tell you just how much better I’ve gotten as a result of being up there with those guys and practicing and just playing until we can’t. It’s also the games, where they’re played frankly at so much faster a pace and with such intensity. There’s just so much more intensity in the games and in individual possessions than at my old school.

Will location play a factor in your decision?

I mean location really doesn’t matter to me. My parents would kind of like me to stay closer to home, but it’s really whatever school fits best for me.

Mike Pegram: What about IU (Indiana University)?

I mean I talked to Coach Tom Crean yesterday and he said he still he wants me to go there. It’s just a matter of me working out and seeing what school fits me the best.

Coach Davis of Cincinnati has been staying on you pretty tough?

Yeah, I talked to him yesterday. He seemed pretty cool. I need to talk to him more often to develop a better relationship with him, but I mean I like Cincinnati too.

What are you going to try to work on over the next year?

Well, last spring, I had an eighteen footer and a three-pointer in my repertoire, but I’m not as good at knocking them down as I used to be. I mean I’m going to continue to lift weights and get stronger. I’m going to be in the weight room a lot. I’m going to work on my shot and continue to work on my conditioning. Over the summer and into next spring, I’d like to work on my shot a lot more.

Mid-range?

Yeah, a lot of work on my mid-range.

I’ve seen you at Brewster several times and you’re much more of a bruiser than you were, say, at this time last year.

I mean I guess my coach, Jason Smith, put me in the post a lot more and playing up there is lot tougher.

Playing with guys like Markus Kennedy..
Yeah, I mean he’s going to Villanova and he’s a top recruit and a postgraduate who’s great to practice against in the post.

And JaKarr Sampson.

Oh, yeah, well, he’s my roommate. We’ve got a little thing going on, but..that’s okay (laughs).
 

What’s your current size?

6’11” 250.

You were talking before about your improved strength. Have you guys measured or gauged it, in terms of bench press, squats, etc.?

No, we haven’t, but hopefully I can get that in this spring and we can see what I measure out at in, like, squatting, bench pressing, and stuff. We’ve been working out a lot in the weight room, but not really measuring or anything.

Who’s the toughest player you’ve played against?
I’d have to say Markus Kennedy on my team, but, on other teams, I’d probably say Khem Birch.

Yeah, sure, at Notre Dame Prep.

Yeah, he’s really good and tough on both ends.

Which style of play do you prefer, one that’s up-and-down, pushes the pace and looks consistently for fast breaks or one that’s predicated on the half-court game and a generally slower tempo?

Whatever fits me best, but I mean I like to get up and out and go, but I also feel that my strength is a strength and I’d like to have a little more focus and passing to our game.

A little more structure to your game?

Yeah, exactly, a little more structure.

Who will you be turning to for guidance in your college decision?

Coach Drumm (of SYF) and my parents.

Back to academics for a second, you mentioned in the past and earlier today that you went up to Brewster to work on your grades.

Yeah, in fact, they were really the whole reason that I first went up there. I’ve been able to earn As and Bs and so now that’s all good, but I keep working and concentrating on them.

I heard that you now made the honor roll in the first semester.

Yeah, I did.

Congratulations.

Thanks, man, I appreciate that.

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

Sure, my weaknesses are probably my three-point shot and, like, my eighteen footer. It’s just not as good as it once was. I mean my strengths are probably really running the court pretty well, rebounding and controlling the ball, and lastly my post play, which I’m sorry you couldn’t see today.

No, please, I’ve seen you quite a bit at Brewster. You were fine tonight and impressed the hell out of these guys that haven’t seen you in six or seven months. What are some of the differences between what’s asked of you at Brewster and your responsibilities with SYF?

Well, next year at Brewster, I’m going to be the captain. So, I actually, both here and there, am going to be the leader of the team.

With SYF particularly, I’ve noticed you’re a lot more vocal this year than in the past.

Yeah, definitely, going to Brewster has helped a lot in terms of making me realize the need to be more vocal and demonstrate leadership. I feel like I’m the heart and soul of this team and I need to pump these guys up and keep them motivated for each game that we go out there. That’s how it was at Brewster and so it translates. At some of the Brewster games, I was pretty crazy. I tried to pump up that team and get them hyped and that’s how it was.

Yeah, I know. I saw you and Max (Hooper of Harvard) and Deonte (Burton, a highly thought of 2013 prospect) hyping those guys up and supporting them loudly when you weren’t out there competing on the court.

Yep, yep, absolutely. We were all there for each other. Doing whatever would help to get the win.

You briefly touched on this before, but how do you feel that it’s helped prepare you for college? What would you say to another young man who’s considering heading up there?

It’s pretty much college up there in terms of competition. I mean I feel like sometimes like I’m playing with and against college people. There’s a sense of pressure and competition and intensity to win. The level of intensity and competition, like I said, is pretty much college.

Game in and game out, you’re playing against multiple D-I players.

Yeah, absolutely, and I mean we played 34 games against that level of competition. We could’ve played as many as 40 games, if we won all of our games, but, unfortunately, yeah..

Can you tell the audience a little about Chesterton? The hometown of you and Jim Gaffigan.

Oh, yeah, I was born and raised there. I never met him, (laughs) but I went to pre-school with his niece, I think, or something like that. (laughs)
I was doing my research.

(laughs) Yeah, but I was born and raised in Chesterton…

The Dunes of Indiana.

Yeah, absolutely, I spent every summer on those Indiana dunes. That’s where I go to the beach and stuff like that. The first year I moved out was kind of a big transition. I’m on my own at Brewster. I’m more responsible, you know, living on my own and making my own decisions.

Who do you try to model your game after?

Well, I really like Lamar Odom a lot. We’re both left-handed. I mean I’d like to get my handle and my three-point shot a little better, but he’s like my favorite player and I’d like to learn to play like him, you know, inside and out.

In January, you wrote that your three favorite or “dream schools” were Texas, Duke, and North Carolina. Is that still the case?

I guess now I would say Texas, Arizona, and Florida. I also like Maryland a lot too.

What are you hoping to show college coaches that you’ve improved upon from last summer to this summer?

How much my motor has gotten better and how much better I am at running the floor than last year.

So, a game like this would’ve been a good example of what you’re trying to demonstrate.

Yeah, I tried to show how well I can rebound the ball, especially offensively, and how I’m very vocal. That’s one of the focal points for colleges is to be vocal and call out commands or ways that you can help your teammates. I try to always be talkative and be helpful on  defense. That’s one thing that I feel I do really well.

Is Duke recruiting you? Forgive me, but I couldn’t quite fully hear your answer to the first question with the buzzers going off. Did you mention them?

Oh, yes, I spoke with Coach Nate James and I spoke with Coach Collins a couple of times. Right now, I think they probably have low interest, but I think that they’re coming up Monday to Brewster.

To your open gym.

Yes, to my open gym.

And what do you know about them?

It’s always been everybody’s favorite. Duke’s always been a powerhouse of a program and a school.

Do you know the Plumlees?

No, I do not know them personally, but I definitely know of them. They’re from Warsaw, Indiana, but I’m definitely big fans of theirs. I just know of them and that they’ve done well at Duke.

What’a something that you learned about yourself or something new that you found out that you could do this year at Brewster?

Just living on my own. I’ve always had my mom do things and I was always a big mama’s boy.
(Reggie Rankin, former coach and current scout for ESPN chimes in with, “Nothing wrong with that.”)
 I always listen to my moms.

You get cell phone service up there? I know that’s an issue at some other schools.

Yeah, I’ve got my own cell and it’s still technically in the US. So, I guess I still get free minutes.

In terms of position, what would like to play, the four or the five?

I guess the four, but next year I’ll be playing the five more often, I think, because I’ll be the biggest one on the team. I guess I’ll be inside banging up on people.

You’ve gone from being a big that can face up, at times, and liked to step out and shoot the three to a really aggressive , physical 4/5, who can do the rough, nasty stuff around the basket. You’re not afraid to collide or throw an occasional elbow if it means securing a rebound. Is that a result of you working on your body or simply a matter of doing what’s necessary for the team to succeed?

Yeah, I knew I had to get a lot stronger and I’ve just been in the weight room a lot more. My shooting has been affected by that. I’ve just got to keep working on that and hopefully it’ll eventually get back.

In terms of rebounding, what do you think are the keys to being a good rebounder and advice that you’d give to younger players?

Mainly, I think you need to get good positioning. I think you need to be aware at all times and especially be conscious of a shot going up. Learn to read the ball coming off the rim. If you watch it, you’ll learn patterns. Just get after it and either hopefully start the break or put it back up if you’re on offense.

Do you feel you’ve improved in this area?

Yeah, probably. I’ve gotten stronger, which helps, and I think I’ve learned how to watch the game a little better.

Without insulting you in any way, have you cut down on your body-fat? I mean it looks like you have.

Oh, yeah, I’ve cut down a lot. I’ve pretty much been working on that everyday. Eating right, getting healthier, working on conditioning, cutting down on the fat, and just gaining muscle

What do you think of the weight room up there?

It’s pretty nice. I mean it’s top of the line stuff.

It’s almost like a small college’s facilities.

Yeah, pretty much. I mean it’s nice and we’ve got a personal trainer, who helps us out. There’s like an assistant coach who is also a personal trainer so he helps us out up there.

Lastly, what would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?

Just that I’m a real outgoing guy. I’m happy to talk to anyone. I’ll talk about recruiting or whatever they’d like to talk about. I’m really open to anything. At the first day of school, I made, like, two hundred friends. I was really friends with everybody. Next year, a bunch of teachers want me to go for class president.

Are you gonna run?

(laughs) I’m thinking about it, but I’m not sure. They said I’d be good at it and so I think I might.

Thanks very much for your time and I’m sure I’ll see you around.

Thank you. No problem.

Last day questions:
How do you feel you played in this tournament?

Not as good as I did in the last tournament (NY2LA Tournament). I think I’d say, right now, my reputation is ahead of my game. I’ve just got to forget about all of that stuff and just stick to playing, stick to helping my team, and just winning tournaments. We’ve got a chance to win a silver bracket still and so I’m going to try to help us achieve that.

That’s something to strive for. You’re a competitor.

Yeah, you’re right. It’s something to strive for. We’ve got to win the silver bracket, I guess, before we can win the gold. (laughs)

Right, right.

The first two tournaments have been, well they’ve been okay.

When’s your next tournament, by the way?

I think we’re going to the Jayhawk Invitational.

And then, over the summer, do you go to Orlando or Vegas, do you know?

I think we’re going to Orlando. Yeah, I think we’re going to the New York to LA (a Milwaukee area tournament) in July and then to Orlando, but I’m not totally sure. I’m not totally positive on that one yet, man.

Thanks again.

Alright, man. [/private]

Duke has offered top Miami CB Larry Hope

Miami CB Larry Hope plans to visit all schools that have offered this summer

Duke has offered top Miami CB Larry Hope

While Duke worked hard to improve their defense on the field this spring, the coaching staff is also working hard to upgrade the defense with a talented group of prospects in the class of 2012. The Duke staff has targeted an elite group of defensive backs who already have received verbal scholarship offers from the Blue Devils, among several other top programs. The Blue Devils added a quality cornerback from Florida in the class of 2011 in Tim Burton, and hope to do the same in the class of 2012. One of the most recent prospects to pick up a verbal scholarship offer is Larry Hope, a 5’11” 167 pound prospect from Miami, Florida.

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

Well, I think, college coaches say they like about me is that I’m the best man-to-man coverage player that they’ve seen. I’m good for my height, I’m a very big player, strong and physical, and very fast. When it comes down to shutting down a receiver, I think I’m the guy. But I like my actions to speak for themselves.

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

I’m working on getting stronger. I’m in the weight room every single day, even on weekdays, weekends I’m outside trying to get faster. We’re trying to get faster and stronger.

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

As a team, I want to come together and bond so we can have a better year than last year and hopefully make it to the playoffs. Me, I just want to do what I’ve been doing, come out there and play my role as I’ve been doing.

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

I’m looking for a family bond and someone that can help me become a better player for the next level, because that’s what everybody wants to do. But I’m looking for a family bond, someone that’s like a father figure at college, and most of the colleges that I’ve been talking to that have offered me, has been that. They call me, I call them, and we talk on a daily basis, get that family bond. They mostly are defensive back coaches, and mostly played DB at the next level, so that’s what I’m looking for.

BDN: Which schools have you in contact with the most, and which schools have extended verbal offers?

I have seven offers from Wisconsin, Buffalo, Nebraska, USF, Louisville, Duke, and Kansas. West Virginia and Miami, Florida State, and Florida, they all want to come to my spring practice – Ole Miss and North Carolina are all coming to my spring practice, sometime around the first of May or the first week in May.

BDN: Have you had a chance to take any visits this spring?

In the summer I plan on visiting all the colleges that have offered me. When it comes to visits, so far I’ve visited Miami, Florida State, and Florida, and USF and UCF, and that’s it.

BDN: Have any schools impressed you or surprised you at this point in the process, either on your visits or your contact with coaches?

Well, no, all the colleges that have offered me are trying to impress me, so not yet.

BDN: Do you have an idea for how or when you would like to narrow your list of schools down and ultimately make a decision?

Me and my dad are weighing my options and just sitting back and relaxing. We’re trying to gain that bond, if I feel like I’m comfortable with a school, there’s no time limit on when I’ll decide.

BDN: Is there anything else you think is important for college football fans to know about you?

I feel like I’m more loyal to football now. Everything revolves around football and I’m working harder than I’ve ever been working, and I like what I’ve been seeing and I’m going to keep putting more into my craft.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Larry, and best of luck to you.

Alright, thanks a lot.