Observations from behind the scenes at Jordan-Brand game

The Jordan-Brand All Star affair wrapped up this past weekend with the East holding on to take a 113-109 victory.  BDN was front and center during the event and here are some observations from the game and behind the scenes at the event.

-Just last [private] week WRAL ran a Rivers comment which basically said he had no hard feelings towards UNC and that he almost went there.  From my understanding, they took just that clip from a 12 minute interview and ran it.  Rivers is not aware of how "some" of the UNC fan base acts, nor that local media has a distinct slant there way, but he will learn.  A chorus of boo's welcomed him when introduced as was Gbinije.  Gbinije smiled and looked down at the court, while Rivers seemed surprised at first and then cracked a smile.  In fairness, there were a whole lot of Kentucky fans there as well and they certainly do not like Duke.  After the game, Rivers said there are more UNC fans and that was okay but he was starting to get an idea that while he may like them okay and not yet be into the rivalry, many of their fans will hate on you.  Rivers was clowning with McAdoo as he was interviewed and the two had a friendship.   FWIW, McAdoo is a class act and a good kid, hard to dislike if you will.  Rivers also hung around Myck Kabongo a lot.

-A Rakeem Christmas dunk strted the game off and for a quarter Rivers looked like the man.  But you could almost see the descent on some of his teammates faces who wanted their points.  He was open on the wings several times and didn;t get the rock and that eventually made him force some shots.  Some fan was killing him, yelling "pass the ball," the whole first half.  Michael Gbinije ended up forcing some shots as well and was a fish out of water in the sense that he is a team player.  He still showed a nice soft mid range and three point touch.  It is also clear that Brad Beal doesn't seem to like Rivers and he asked the west coach to let him guard him from the start.  As you know, Rivers went off early, but Beal answered only most of his points came on wide open dunks off the break.

-I had a VIP seat, front row, under the basket near the west bench.  Several rap stars sat to my northeast and Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith was one seat over.  Several ex players came by to talk to him including Stephen Jackson.  Jackson and a temmate I didn't recognize sat to my right.  Concessions people started bringing him food left and right or asking if he needed anything.  He joked that he was looking for a call from Michael Jordan about eating junk food.  When a Jordan video came on, you could hear some whispers which were jokes.  I did see Jordan after the game in the corridor with a girlfriend half his age in tow.  Several people quipped that the Bobcat's were not a smooth operation but I have no comment on that, just passing on what I overheard.

-Marshall Plumlee was completely gunned out.  A "gun" is an old school word for a player who jacks up shots and raely passes.  I waited like 17 minutes for Plumlee to come out of the locker room, returned and still saw media waiting and just did not have time to get an interview with him.  Plumlee seemed miffed when his coach put Jackson Simmons in ahead of him in the second half.  He was not the only one.  Jackson did battle his way to 8 rebounds though but he will never be a major factor at UNC.

-Kids were all over the players, especially Rivers after the game as you may have seen in the raw videos we put up.  Rivers gladly signed for fans and interacted with them.

-John Wall came over to speak with Jackson and gave me a nod.  And Mr. Clifton shadowed his every move.  It has become clear that a certain group is taking care of Kentucky, Louisville and Baylor.  Gee, I wonder is those handshakes we hear about happen.

-Kentucky fans there seemed like a cross between passionate and crazy.  Seriously, there were a lot of them and for good reason.  Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis are going to be scary good from day one.  Gilchrist seemed to be adjusting while Davis seemed to be realizing how hard he is to defend.

-While McAdoo won the MVP for the East, his teammate PJ Hairston seemed lost and did not have a great game.  Hairtson is accustomed to getting a lot of shots and will take them.  It will be interesting to see how Williams gets kids minutes with everybody returning.  The pressure started when Barnes said he was coming back.

-DJ Augustine was also sitting on near me and he liked Myck Kabongo's game.  Interestingly, once he made a comment on how he is quick and keeps his team together, the East had lost a big lead and were arguing with each other.

-A guy tapped me on the back and wanted my autograph, saying you are a scout right.  I smiled looked at Jackson and kindly said you don't want me to mess up that hat with all the autographs.  Actually, I was just taking a cue from Harrison Barnes and playing rock star, LOL.

-A Kyle Singler game alum video hit the screen up top and you guessed it, boo birds were at it again.  Man, Charlotte is a UNC town, always has been and always will be.  I wonder how many kids got an ear full from MJ who was pretty much the reason Barnes went to UNC.  One Duke alumni, Jay Bilas, sporting reading glasses, got away with no heckles.  Looks like his objectivity is working.  Ever wonder why Duke alum don't spew the cracks UNC ones do?

-Overall this is a good event and for entertainment only.  After worries about a small crowd, the place had more than a few fans. [/private]


Tarboro RB Todd Gurley is still focused on Duke, NC State, and UNC

Duke was the first to offer Tarboro RB Todd Gurley

Led by elite running back Todd Gurley, Tarboro High School successfully defended their 2009 State Championship and finished 16-0 in 2010. Gurley, a 6’1” 195 pound athlete, finished the season with 30 touchdowns and was named to the 2A All-State team. Highlights of his junior year can be viewed here. Duke is looking to add an elite running back in the class of 2012 and was the first school to offer Gurley a scholarship. BDN last spoke with Todd early this spring as he was planning his spring visits. After his spring visits, [private] it sounds like Todd is still focused on in-state schools.


BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit this spring and how have your visits been going?

I’ve been to all three in-state schools. Spring games, I went to Duke, UNC, and NC State yesterday. I’ve visited NC State the most this spring, but I’ve been to every school.

BDN: What have you been looking for on your visits to the three in-state schools? Have you learned anything new at the spring practices or games?

Just, you know, the offensive system that they run, their coaches, and just the fan base, the support – what I would be playing in front of if I was playing for them.

BDN: Are there any new schools that you have been hearing from?

Just Auburn, and I’m considering and getting interest from Clemson, Tennessee, and South Carolina, so I’m looking into those schools.

BDN: Where are you in your process right now? Do you have an idea for when you want to make a decision?

Probably not anytime soon, but just to get the feel for the coach and then the running back coach, because that’s the position that I want to play. Just keep developing the relationship and whichever place that I feel the best and feel comfortable with the coach or the coaches and if I like the environment and the city, but no time soon that I’ll be making a decision.

BDN: You mentioned the relationship being important. Which coaches do you have the best relationship with so far?

I probably would say, just like the coach from UNC, the running back coach, because he’s the coach that recruits me – Coach Browning, so I just have a real good relationship with him, probably the best relationship with him. Then I talk to Duke a lot, I have a good relationship with their coaches, I just like their whole coaching staff overall. And then NC State, I like their coaches, but I just have to get to know them more.

BDN: What are your plans for your spring and summer?

I’m in track right now, and just working in the weight room right now. Just trying to get to the North Carolina, South Carolina game, Shrine Bowl combine. Maybe go to a school that hasn’t offered me yet, like Florida, just go down there and see if they’re interested in me. Also the Under Armour Combine to try and get into the Under Armour All American game. And then there’s a Nike Combine that has sent me an invitation so I’ll go there.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Todd, and we look forward to hearing from you again soon.



Texas RB prospect Dontonio Jordan has offers from Duke and Stanford

Dontonio Jordan says that running back is his natural position

When Head Coach David Cutcliffe came to Durham, he vowed that he would transform the Blue Devils into a faster and more athletic team. In his first few recruiting classes, he has added several elite athletes, including Isaac Blakeney in 2010 and Jamison Crowder in 2011. The coaching staff is looking to continue that trend in the class of 2012, and Duke is one of the first two schools to offer a top athlete from Texas. Dontonio Jordan is a 5’11” 183 pound athlete from Corinth, Texas. His great speed and quickness have allowed him to play both receiver and running back for Lake Dallas High School. Highlights from his junior season 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?

Running back, that’s really my natural position. That’s where I played until I was a freshman, and then we had like 4 or 5 good running backs my sophomore year in high school, so they decided that playing receiver would be the best position for me at that time, for sophomore year. Junior year – last year – I got a little bit more running back carries, averaged 6.7 yards per carry, and about the same amount or receptions, but a lot more yards and I had 10 more touchdowns than I did the year before, so that was a good improvement.

BDN: You said you feel like running back is your natural position, is that where you want to play in college and what position have college coaches been talking to you about playing?

College are considering me as an inside receiver, because that’s all they’re really seen me as, as of right now. But after this year, because I think running back is more my natural position, I think I’m going to have a big year at running back this year and more colleges will be looking at me for that also.

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

Me and my dad, my dad helps me out a lot. We go to the track probably every Sunday, we’re probably going out there later today. We go every Sunday and work on footwork drills and lateral movement. I still work on my route running and stuff, too, and I’m also lifting a lot of weights, when I can lift on weekends, on Saturdays with my dad also. I do push-ups at home, and stuff like that. I go to a camp every Tuesday and Thursday, I go to this thing called Velocity, where we do a lot of core training to get your core stronger, balance, 40 [yard dash] times, all types of stuff like that.

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

Last year we had kind of a disappointment. We should have won easily to at least the fourth round of the playoffs, but we lost in the first round, just a couple of muffed punts and stuff like that. Next year, for me personally, I think I should have a 1,000 yard rushing season and about 700 yards receiving at least. I think our team, we have a lot of returning starters – we have 9 on offense and probably about 5 or 6 on defense – so we have a lot of experience and we have a lot more depth, so I think we should be able to go to at least the 4th round and face [defending state champion] Aledo [High School].

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

My top three things that I would look for is the proximity to home, and if I’m not close to home, say if I’m in North Carolina or California or somewhere like that, then how “homey” is it? Do I feel like it’s home to me? And early playing time is one of my top three also, and good coaching. All the coaches that I’ve talked to, most of them, I get a good vibe off of, and I like that I can build a relationship with the coaches.

BDN: I know we mentioned that Duke is one of the schools that has offered you. Which schools have you in contact with the most, and which schools have extended verbal offers?

Stanford is the only other offer that I have as of right now. I’m getting a lot of calls from people saying they’re coming to see me this spring, they want to evaluate me more, but they say an offer is on the way. Some other schools are saying that if I get my transcripts to them then I’ll get an offer. Schools like Tulsa, UConn, Baylor, Iowa, and Michigan State. Those are really the ones that I talk to the most often.

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

As of right now, I think it’s almost set in stone that we’re visiting Stanford on May 14. Duke, I think we’re going to try to make a fall visit there. UConn, they’re trying to get me out there we just don’t know when. I’ve already visited Baylor, that was my first visit actually. I went to SMU yesterday. Iowa’s been trying to get me out there, but it’s really just all going to come down to my official visits, really.

BDN: So it sounds like you want to take some official visits this fall and make a decision after your season, is that right?

Yeah, yes sir.

BDN: Is there anything else that you think college football fans should know about you?

You know, I’m just a regular guy, nothing out of the normal about me.

BDN: Well it certainly sounds like you’re a hard worker and I just want to wish you best of luck with your recruitment. Thanks a lot, Dontonio.

No problem, thanks.


BDN Premium Video Interview with Michael Gbinije

Michael Gbinije -BDN Photo

BDN was on the scene at the Jordan-Brand Classic sponsored by Nike and we  caught up with future Blue Devil Mike Gbinije for a chat.  Gbinije talks about the game, coming to Duke this summer, going to China and more in this video [private] interview.



ACC schools battling for VA safety C.J. Prosise

ACC schools are battling for VA safety C.J. Prosise

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. One of the most recent prospects to pick up a verbal scholarship offer is C.J. Prosise, a 6’2’” 202 pound prospect from Woodberry Forest, Virginia. Highlights from his junior season 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?

Mostly, just a ball-hawking safety, and I’m pretty fast, I would think.

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

Mostly my speed and my hips and my movement, getting my cuts back and forth.

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

Mostly I know I’ve got to make plays, because everybody will be looking to me to make the plays, so that’s really what I’m looking forward to doing. I know they’re counting on me to be a great leader out there for them.

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

Good academics would be one, and then definitely a pretty good football team, just a place that I want to be for four years, even if I wasn’t playing football.

BDN: Is there a particular academic field you are interested in studying in college?

Not right now, I haven’t really thought about it too much.

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

I have offers from Boston College, Maryland, UVA, Virginia Tech, Duke, and Wake Forest. Those are all the ACC offers and then I have Vanderbilt from the SEC.

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

I’ve visited Maryland, UVA, Virginia Tech, and I’ve visited Duke.

Duke, Maryland, and Virginia Tech have stood out to C.J. Prosise


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

I mean, definitely I had a good time at Duke, when I was there, but also - I’m trying to think – Maryland, and I had a really good visit at Virginia Tech, too.

BDN: Do you have any plans for visits later this spring or over the summer?

No, I don’t really have any right now, well I have a couple this summer but none in the spring. I have Vanderbilt, Boston College, and Wake Forest this summer.

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?

Not really, I haven’t really thought about it that much.

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

Alright.  You, too.