The Duke Blue Devils made a key addition to their basketball program on Saturday when Rodney Hood, a 6’8″ transfer from Mississippi State, sent word he had chosen the Blue Devils over Ohio State. Hood, from Meridian, Mississippi, is a former Gatorade Player of the Year in that state, and was rated as high as the 16th best high school player in his class. He was named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman team this past season after averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Bulldogs. While Hood is not eligible to play until the 2013-14 season, when he will be a sophomore, he will be able to practice with the team this year.
NEWARK, N.J. – Duke’s Austin Rivers was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round by the New Orleans Hornets in Thursday’s NBA Draft, while Miles Plumlee was taken with the No. 26 selection by the Indiana Pacers. Duke has now had two first round picks in each of the last two years and six times overall.
Rivers, who entered the draft following his freshman season at Duke, is the 17th Duke player selected in the NBA Draft Lottery, more than any other school in the nation since the system was put into place in 1985.
“I love New Orleans more than anything in my life right now,” Rivers said to a group of reporters after being selected on Thursday. “Coach Monty Williams is a great coach. Anthony’s coming. They have a great city. I’m looking forward to going there and working hard and helping out in the community and doing everything I can to help this organization win.”
Rivers, a 6-4 guard from Winter Park, Fla., averaged a team-high 15.5 points per game to join Johnny Dawkins (1983) and Bill Sapp (1945) as the only players to lead the Blue Devils in scoring as freshmen. He scored in double-figures 30 times, with eight games with 20 or more points scored. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, while finishing second on the team in assists (71) and steals (33) and third in three-point field goals (58).
In the Duke freshman record books, Rivers ranks among the all-time leaders in points (3rd – 527), points per game (3rd – 15.5), field goals (6th – 174), three-point field goals (5th – 58), free throws (1st – 121), free throw attempts (1st – 184), games started (t-6th – 33), minutes played (7th – 1,129), double-figure scoring games (t-3rd – 30) and 20-point games (t-5th – eight).
Rivers earned NABC third team All-America honors to become the first freshman in Duke history and the 24th player overall (38 honors) under Coach K to earn All-America accolades. He also became just the seventh freshman in ACC history to collect first team all-conference recognition.
He had his best scoring performances of the year on the biggest stage on Feb. 8 at North Carolina. Rivers posted a season-high 29 points and nailed a three-point field goal at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils an 85-84 win over the fifth-ranked Tar Heels. He went 9-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, and added five rebounds in the victory.
Rivers, the 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year, joined Corey Maggette (1999), Luol Deng (2004) and Kyrie Irving (2011) as Blue Devil freshmen to enter the NBA Draft after just one year of college basketball. The three previous freshmen early entrees were each selected among the first 13 players in their respective drafts, including Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Rivers’ father, Doc, is the current head coach of the Boston Celtics. The elder Rivers played in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks (1983-91), Los Angeles Clippers (1991-92), New York Knicks (1992-94) and San Antonio Spurs (1994-96). He was an NBA All-Star in 1988 and was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2000. Rivers was the head coach for the Orlando Magic from 1999-2004.
Plumlee closed his four-year career at Duke with 650 points and 654 rebounds, while shooting 55.6 percent (262-of-471) from the field. He helped Duke to the 2010 NCAA Championship, three ACC Tournament titles and a 115-20 record during his four seasons in Durham.
As a senior, Plumlee averaged 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds (ninth in the ACC) per game. He established a Coach K era record with 22 rebounds in a Feb. 11, 2012 win over Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Plumlee, a 6-11, 250-pound For more Go Duke.com
In this week’s edition of Duke Basketball Notebook, we’ve got a number of things going on in and around the program that we wanted to let you in on. As you probably can imagine, there is no off-season for Duke Basketball and this month and the rest of summer feature a bevy of interesting “happenings.” Let’s take a look:
- The NBA Draft goes off this week and the Duke Blue Devils will have two players selected, Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee. Rivers seems to be moving up as the draft nears, which is exactly what we told you would happen when he was initially projected to go around 17th in the first round. Rivers’s transition to the NBA will likely be much easier than others’ due to the guidance of his father, and perhaps NBA types are considering Doc’s influence as well as the skills that Austin brings to the table. We are also going to honk our horn on Miles a bit, in that we let you know early on that the eldest Plumlee was impressing many with his measurements and skill set at pre-draft workouts. Now everybody is raving about Plumlee, and it could not be happening to a nicer kid. It also goes to show that playing less at a top flight program is sometimes better than playing a lot at a bad one. Miles wears his NCAA Championship ring with pride and we hope one day he has another ring to add to it.
- Speaking of rings, Shane Battier added another one as the Miami Heat won the NBA title. Battier played a huge role, knocking down timely three point shots and making key steals, tips, and other heady plays to help seal victories. Shane is already benefitting from the hype.
- In other NBA news, former Duke star Danny Ferry is the new General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks. Ferry has deep roots in the league through his father Bob Ferry, who was the long-time GM of the Washington franchise.
- While the rosters have yet to be officially announced, the N.C. Pro-Am kicks off later this week, and as we have been since the event’s inception, Blue Devil Nation will be there to report. This event provides some of the best basketball entertainment that can be found in the dog days of summer, and the price is right — attendance is free. This year, they’ve cut back to eight teams and there will be three nights of action. We’ll have more on the logistics and other particulars in the coming week. But regardless, we’ll be in our customary spot in the end zone, so stop by and say hello.
- The Duke Men’s Basketball staff will head to Las Vegas shortly, and be gone through July 4th. Mike Krzyzewski is trying to bring another Olympic gold medal home from jolly old England this summer, and he’ll have his trusty blokes, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, in tow. Several exhibition games have already been set, and we’ll follow Team USA as we always have in the past, so be sure to bookmark the site for updates.
- During the coaches’ absence, assistants Jeff Capel and Nate James will take center stage on the AAU circuit, so Duke will still be well represented at the great events remaining this summer, many of which BDN will cover.
- Don’t forget that Alex Murphy will be playing for the Finnish National Team this summer. He will earn a lot of burn, which can only help him in the coming season. We told you long ago that Alex would be suiting up for Finland, and here is a video from last March where he spoke of his redshirt season and playing for Finland.
- Meanwhile, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly are participating in the Amare Stoudemire Big Man Camp. If you were a BDN Premium member, you would have known about this weeks ago. Plumlee and Kelly will be seasoned senior leaders this season for Duke, and if history repeats itself, that should bode well. Having veteran leaders is big come March.
- This is the week coveted transfer Rodney Hood will suppoosedly announce his decision. Hood is down to Duke and Ohio State, and I feel good about the Blue Devils’ chances. As you may have learned in an interview BDN Premium had with Hood before his senior year in high school, he grew up a Duke fan, and some say that by Thursday we will know where the long and lean prospect will be balling for the remainder of his college career. Many leakers are saying he is bound for Columbus, but our suggestion is to take a wait-and-see approach.
- For more on where other Duke players will be this summer, join BDN Premium. Speaking of our Premium service, our interviews continue to draw raves for their timeliness and their detail. Andrew Slater is doing a great job for us (as is the rest of our staff) and we invite you to join and discuss all the latest with fellow members. We have a lot of interviews coming soon, an early bird Duke hoops preview, as well as much more on the football recruiting trail, where Patrick Cacchio’s work is second to none. If you are looking for a reliable source of timely information, BDN Premium is that place. In our latest offering, for example, recruiting insider Van Coleman takes a look at Duke and national prospects in an exclusive with BDN. BDN Premium features the nation’s best talent scouts, from Tom Konchalski and Clark Francis to the aforementioned Coleman, to give our members the best information available from a variety of well known, tried and true sources.
- Finally, BDN is looking for a couple of people to add to our team. Most recently we have added Tom Rubinson, who will act as our lead editor and will write some feature articles as well. Tom has already added a lot to our site and his wordsmithing will be part and parcel of a new and improved BDN as we make some important changes to the site. We’ll talk more about those changes when we get closer to implementing them. If you are an outstanding writer, we have a soap box for you. You must know the program well and have some experience in the field. We are looking for a person to cover “Dukies in the NBA” on a regular basis next season, and somebody to help us get more proactive and creative with our use of videos. Our football coverage has grown immensely and Patrick is looking for a sidekick to help there too. In addition, we are looking for somebody who has a keen interest in Duke Women’s Basketball and who can cover their games and the program as a whole. If you have any interest in these volunteer positions or want to know more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Without question, Van Coleman is one of the most respected talent evaluators in the recruiting world. In our latest premium offering, Van shares his thoughts on several key high school prospects with BDN’s Mark Watson. Coleman joins a long list of national analysts that have shared their takes on the nation’s best talent with Blue Devil Nation Premium, and as a member you will be sure to enjoy what he has to say about Jabari Parker, Semi Ojeleye, and several other Duke targets[private].
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 1.5 million home-schooled children in 2007 (the most recent year for available statistics) in the United States. Last year, Justin Jackson became the first home-schooled young man ever to make the USA Basketball U16 team.
The 6’7″ wing from Spring, Texas has been a bit of a trailblazer for the growing homeschooling movement. In 2011, Justin won the Maravich Award, which is given annually to the best home-schooled basketball player in the United States. This year, Jackson was honored with the Sullivan Award, which is bestowed upon the top home-schooled player who has already won the Maravich Award.
Jackson plays for the Homeschool Christian Youth Association, which is a Houston organization of home-schooled kids that gather to play sports against other programs. Along with Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, Jackson, an efficient and potent wing, helped lead his HCYA Warriors to a 37-13 record, including wins in January at the Flyin’ To The Hoop Tournament in Ohio, where the then-sophomore was named to the All-Tournament team. Later in the season, in front of thousands of spectators, HCYA went on to win the undisputed national championship of homeschool basketball by defeating the Oklahoma City Storm 63-50 to capture the National Gold Ball, homeschool basketball’s highest team prize. Following the season, MaxPreps named the Texan to its Sophomore All-American team.
At home, Jackson, the oldest of four, is nurtured by his parents Lloyd and Sharon, who met as students at Blinn College in Texas, where his mother played basketball and his father was on the track team. Twice a week, Justin attends classes locally to strengthen his education. Jackson, a cerebral, pious, and poised young man, earned a 4.0 grade point average while taking a challenging class schedule that included Calculus.
Last summer, Jackson teamed up with Duke recruits Jabari Parker, Theo Pinson, Tyus Jones, and Jahlil Okafor to help lead the USA Basketball 16U team to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas 16U Championship in Cancun, Mexico. Jackson averaged 10.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game, while his team went undefeated throughout the tournament.
This year, Jackson, a rising junior, has been the leading scorer for a balanced Houston Hoops 17U AAU team in Nike’s EYBL. The Texas sharpshooter has shot 54.2% from the field, including 41.3% from beyond the three-point arc, and 82.4% from the charity stripe. Houston Hoops, the AAU organization which helped develop incoming Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon (an AAU teammate of Jackson’s last season), has won fifteen of its twenty EYBL games and looks to be major contender for next month’s Peach Jam Championship in South Carolina.
I recently spoke to Justin about a plethora of issues, including his faith, experience winning a national title, playing with USA Basketball, being a role model for home-schooled kids, and Duke’s interest in him.
How do you feel you’ve played so far during your AAU season with Houston Hoops?
I feel like, individually, I’ve played really well. Our team has done pretty well. We’ve lost a heart-breaker or two, but, individually, I think I’m playing pretty well.
How do you compare it to the competition you face on your high school schedule?
In high school, I’m obviously one of the key guys for my team. I feel like I’m a key part on this team, but we have so many good players. So, I just have to come out here everyday and work as hard as I can and everything will come from that.
For the sake of the audience, can you explain both your affiliation with Homeschool Christian Youth Association and how you currently go about home schooling?
Yeah, sure, as far as the HCYA team, all of the home-schoolers in the Houston area come try out for our team and then, just like a normal school, they break them into the varsity and the JV and the other levels. Then, for the actual school, I go to private tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
That’s when you get your science and math, as your mother was saying.
Yeah, that’s right. Well, pretty much, all of my classes. They then give you homework for the rest of the week and then I have to complete it before the next class.
What was the experience like to win a national title? I was reading that you played it at Missouri State, in front of approximately seven thousand people.
It was awesome. We actually had a coaching change about halfway through the season and it was a change for the better. So, we ended up going, I think, like 25-3 after the coaching change. We just came together, we became a family after that. So, it was great.
Wow. Who’d you guys hire, Phil Jackson?
(laughs) Yeah, someone like that.
You’ve won both the Maravich Award and the Sullivan Award, which are normally the two highest awards given in the home-schooling basketball world.
Yes, this year I won the Sullivan Award, which is basically, if a guy wins the Maravich Award before he’s a senior, it’s just an award that they give out. The Maravich Award is basically given to the best home-schooled player in the country.
You had a 4.0 GPA this year and your mother was telling me that you were taking Calculus as a sophomore. Can you talk about the importance of academics in your life and in your family?
My family has put an emphasis on academics since I played basketball as a little kid. Academics always comes first in our family, basketball comes second, so I just put all that effort into my schoolwork so then I can play basketball.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses as a basketball player?
Strength-wise, I feel like I’m a good all-around player. My biggest strength is offense. I can really score with the ball. As far as my weaknesses, obviously, I’ve got to get stronger and then just lateral quickness for defense. I’ve got to get better.
How have you gone about trying to improve in those two areas?
I actually spend time trying to lift weights during the high school season.
At home or in a local gym?
At home. And then for lateral quickness, I just use the ladder, jump rope, and stuff like that.
I’ve talked to several of your teammates about this, guys like Jabari, Tyus, and Jahlil, but what was your USA Basketball experience like?
The experience was great. Just to go out there with 27 of the best players in your class and be able to say that you tried out for the team is great. And I got the opportunity to be on the team, which is just tremendous.
And you contributed heavily, averaging double-digit scoring.
(pauses) It was probably the best experience that I’ve ever had…and certainly in basketball.
Was it a grueling tryout period for you? I know that some people even had issues with the altitude.
Oh, yeah, first of all, the altitude up in Colorado. And then we had two-a-days, which your body doesn’t want to do, but that’s when you have to push through and keep working.
In terms of visits, have you taken any recently or do you have any planned?
During the high school season, I took a visit to Ohio State. We’re trying to figure out if we can get one visit in, if we had an open weekend or something like that, preferably late in June, but the visits may have to come in August.
Now, you haven’t always lived in the Houston area. You lived for five years in Cincinnati. I was talking with your parents about that.
It was good. We made a lot of good friends. Obviously though, all of my family is from Texas.
Your mother had mentioned that your parents actually met at Blinn College, where some football fans may remember that Cam Newton went.
Yes, they did, but, yeah, Cincinnati was nice.
What are you looking for in a program, whenever you do decide?
Academics is first, and then I’d have to become comfortable with the coaching staff because obviously I’m going off for four years and I just feel like I’d have to become comfortable with them. Those are definitely my two most important factors.
Given a choice, are you looking for a coach that is more like a friend or someone that will push you?
Obviously, I want to get better. I’d like to get to the next level eventually, but I still want to have a friend as a coach.
I didn’t mean that it necessarily was exclusive, just given a choice. I’m sorry.
Oh, sure. I feel like all of the coaches that I’ve talked to, well, most of them try to sell the school and I’ve tried to have a good relationship with all of them. Most of them have said we’re not going to be here to tell you how good you are or tell you what you’ve done is awesome. We’re here to try to push you to get you to be better. I hope they’re sincere.
Who do you try to model your game after?
Kevin Durant. His body type is a lot like mine, but I think Reggie Miller might also be another one.
I’ve heard the Miller one, in terms of body type.
Yeah, a lot of comparisons, but probably those two guys.
The next one I haven’t discussed with any player outside of maybe just Jabari, but your father was saying that your faith is an important issue to you and your family.
Yep. I think I became a believer when I was about eleven.
That’s fairly early.
Ever since, that comes first. My relationship with God has to be there and just…
Is it challenging at times being in your teenage years?
It is challenging, with all of your surroundings and everything like that, but that’s when I have to keep my faith even more strong.
As I said, I don’t usually ask people about that, but, since your parents mentioned its importance..
That’s fine. I’m glad that you did.
Can you give a quick comment on Jabari, Jahlil, and Tyus?
Obviously, they’re some of the best players in the country and they’re also great guys.
Who was your roommate with the USA team?
My roommate was actually Aaron Gordon.
Obviously, another talented young player.
Yeah, but I talked to Jahlil and Tyus quite a bit. I’ve also talked to Jabari. They’re just good guys. I just think they’re really good people.
Jabari’s about as good as it gets.
I know it’s early for them, but Duke has expressed interest in you. What do you know about the program?
I actually just started talking with Coach Capel. I guess he wants to get us down there, let us speak to the coaching staff and stuff like that. They haven’t offered me yet, but they do seem really interested.
What do you know about Coach K and the program itself?
Obviously, Coach K is one of the best coaches to have coached and the program is one of the best programs, so that combined, it offers one of the best options.
What position do you feel you’re best suited towards, a two or a three?
Mainly a two, but I feel like I’m pretty versatile. On the high school level, I’ve played everything from the one to the four.
What do you feel most comfortable defending?
Oh, probably the two or the three.
I think you’re best suited to the three or as a tall two from watching you at various EYBL and camp events. Basketball-wise, in terms of allocating time, how does home-schooling benefit you?
Well, obviously it gives me more time to go into the gym, but, sometimes I don’t even get any time at the gym because there’s so much schoolwork. For the most part though, it gives me more time to just hang out and get more work in in basketball.
Do you play any other sports or are you focused on basketball?
Oh, just basketball for me.
I was speaking with your mother last night about how the scheduling allows you to be more efficient with your time. In terms of basketball, what are you working on primarily right now?
Right now, I’m focused on trying to get quicker and also to get stronger. Those are the main general things.
Those are your two main things. Well, since you mentioned it, how have you been working on your strength and conditioning?
Well, on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I usually try to do some strength and conditioning.
What does that consist of?
Usually, weights and, if I don’t have access to the track, I’ll use a treadmill. I’ll do some slants or just run a mile as fast as I can. Just trying to improve my speed and shoot for new goals.
Speaking of that, did your dad play as well? Your mother mentioned that she played in college at Blinn.
He actually ran track at Blinn and then he tried out for basketball at U of H (University of Houston) and made a few cuts, but, ultimately, unfortunately didn’t make the team.
Well, still he showed initiative and must’ve had some ability. Is it true that North Carolina was your favorite program as a child?
Well, we just grew up liking North Carolina, but, ever since we’ve gotten into recruiting, I’ve taken the position that I need to be really open-minded. You know I’ve been really open and so that has really nothing to do with the current recruiting process and won’t have an effect on my college decision.
Sure, there’s plenty of kids that approach recruiting that way. What schools have offered you or expressed interest in you?
I think I’ve been offered by Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Georgetown, and Ohio State. Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Stanford and some others are just recruiting me at this point.
Oh, Stanford as well. I assume Stanford is also intrigued by your profile as someone who is serious about basketball and academics.
What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?
You know I’m actually a pretty quiet kid. My life is pretty private.
Don’t worry. So am I.
Thanks. Not many people really know what’s going on in my life, outside of my close family. So, I guess you could say that I’m a pretty quiet kid.
Trust me. It gets easier with age, but this is still challenging for me to even to talk to you.
(Laughs and then pauses) Yeah, thanks, I know what you mean.
How would you assess your defense at this point?
You know I’m long. So, I try to use that to my advantage.
How long is your wingspan at this point, if you happen to know?
I think my wingspan is 6’10” or 6’11,” but I haven’t measured it recently. I try to use that to get wide, but I obviously need to get quicker. In the meantime, I’m using my wingspan, spacing, and footwork to try to make up the difference. Right now, I try to use my wingspan to make up for some of the quickness that I don’t really have.
I’ve been trying to monitor your lateral quickness. What style of play would be best suited to you?
I like teams that play together. Obviously, in college, most of them do.
Yeah, I guess that I was wondering if you’d prefer to play in an uptempo offense, half-court..
Yeah, something uptempo, but I feel like I can contribute offensively in either type of setting.
What style of play do you play primarily in high school?
Oh, we play pretty much of a run-and-gun style of play. It’s very fast paced, but we’re still pretty good in half-court sets and I’m very comfortable playing in either way.
We talked about wingspan before, but what’s your current size?
I’m about 6’7″ and now about 180.
I saw you, at times, last year in AAU, but I also watched you play as a rising sophomore at LeBron James’s Skills Academy.
Last year was a challenge. Obviously, there were some great guys or players in the class of 2012 and they were bigger and stronger than me. It, sort of, woke me up. It woke me up as a competitor and as a player. I walked away recognizing the areas that I needed to get better in and quickly. It was a real wake up call, but very helpful.
Do you know Rasheed Sulaimon pretty well?
Oh, yes. Well, as you know I actually played with him last year. I think that, in the end, he’ll be very successful at Duke.
Do you think that he’ll be able to make an immediate impact at Duke?
Well, I haven’t really looked into their whole rotation or anything like that yet, but I think that he can definitely help them and he’ll be a great teammate.
Have you ever met Kevin Durant, by the way?
I haven’t, but I’ve heard he’s nice to people and a good role model.
Do you view yourself as a role model for other young people that are schooled at home?
I do. It’s sort of crazy, but, when I got to these homeschool tournaments, people are always asking for my autograph and sometimes for advice.
Do you like it? I had heard that you’re a bit of a rock star at these events, where you’re playing in front of thousands of people.
I enjoy it, but I try to never get wrapped up in it. Obviously, as you know, my parents are always there to tell me not to get wrapped up in it.
They seem very grounded.
Yep, they are and they keep me grounded. (Pauses) For the most part, though, it shows me that I’ve got to be a leader because there are so many little kids looking up to me.
Who were your role models, growing up?
Oh, definitely, my parents.
Can you give a quick scouting report for the audience on Justise Winslow?
He’s a good guy and a great basketball player. I’ve roomed with him in AAU basketball this year. He’s a good guy and I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. He seems relatively grounded and, on the basketball court, he’s one of the best players. He’s a great person and a great basketball player.
When you’ve been in those hotel rooms, have you guys talked about going to college together? Or is that not even in the cards?
Well, I’ve talked to a few people about that actually, but not him.
Obviously, I’ve talked to Jahlil and Tyus, but, right now, I’m still so open and have no idea where I’m going. So, right now, it’s just sort of throwing stuff out there and seeing what their thoughts are. It’s stuff to think about, however.
When do you think that you’ll decide by?
Probably, it will be by the beginning of my senior year.
Who will you look to for guidance, whenever you do decide?
Probably just my parents.
Your parents mentioned that you read quite a lot. What are you reading right now?
My parents bought me this, well, biography of a bunch of NBA players. I’m really reading about a lot of them right now and it’s inspiring.
In high school, you may play between fifty and sixty games in a season. I think this year you played exactly fifty games. How do you think that differentiated or, perhaps, helped you, in comparison to some of your peers?
It was tiring, but it all was worth it, once we won the National Championship.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media today and, as usual, his summer session provided a lot of information. The biggest news to some was that it is now official that Andre Dawkins will redshirt this coming season. But there was so much more. In fact, there was so much information that I decided to just share several interesting notes from today, so read on and enjoy.
-Andre Dawkins will redshirt this coming season. Details were not given, out of respect for Andre’s personal privacy.
– Coach K said that last season’s team was not good defensively out front. The perimeter players were not big enough or long enough to effectively pressure the ball. However, he expects they will be better able to apply that pressure this season with improved size and length on the perimeter. Improving the team’s on-ball pressure will be addressed in the off-season, as will reinforcing defensive concepts out front.
– Coach K said this year’s team would be more versatile and would benefit from having three senior leaders in Mason, Ryan and Seth.
– Ryan Kelly has fully recovered from his injury and is currently working out in Las Vegas.
– In fact, all the Duke players are currently in good health.
– Mason Plumlee is on an internship and is working out in Chicago.
— Alex Murphy left two days ago for Finland to play on the Finnish National Team. His Mom played for Finland’s national team as well. Coach said that Murphy would get a lot of playing time. Duke will use the 6’8″ Murphy on the perimeter or in the SF role. K said having him on the wing would stretch the court and allow Duke to do some different things.
– Seth Curry will play off the ball more in order to hunt his shot. Thornton, Cook and Sulaimon would be the primary ballhandlers if the season were to start today.
– K did not mention anything about Josh Hairston losing weight in the off-season, but did say that Josh could play more on the perimeter than he has in the past.
– Marshall Plumlee is up to 240 pounds, and K believes last year’s redshirt season would help him. He likes his work ethic and enthusiasm, and mentioned his toughness as well.
– Incoming freshman Rasheed Sulaimon has played well and K believes that he, like all players do, will grow from the experience of playing international basketball.
– One peeve that Coach K mentioned was the transfer rate in college basketball. He thinks it’s just out of control, as more than 450 kids are moving to different schools. As the NCAA is not doing much about the problem, K believes that college hoops needs a governing body to address issues like this.
– Coach said the one-and-done mentality has always existed but that players now leave more quickly when facing controversy or any type of difficult situation. He noted as well that sometimes kids leave before the book is written, and referenced 2010, where Duke’s senior-laden team blossomed into champions.
– Also on transfers, K believes that transfers are being recruited harder than high school prospects now, and he implied the battles were vicious. Again, he recommends that studies needed to be done to support controlling this trend.
– He mentioned some teams trying to improve their APR as well, as that measure will have UConn on the sidelines of the NCAA tournament this year.
– Coach was aked if in the future he would recruit differently in light of having lost Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers back to back, after only one year apiece at Duke. He said there are no real recruiting philosophies that he could describe in the current climate.
– He also said that Rivers and Miles Plumlee were expected to do well in the upcoming NBA Draft, and that the success of former Duke players in the league enhances perceptions of Duke and helps Duke’s image with new prospects.
– Coach said that he faces challenges with Team USA from both the effects of the condensed NBA season as well as injuries. They have yet to finalize a roster. He glowed when talking about the play of Russell Westbrook, and scoffed at so many analysts who examine his game under the microscope, noting that Westbrook is just 24 years old. He said LeBron James would play for Team USA for sure. In discussing LeBron, Coach K stated that some kids learn in different ways and that while James has had to learn some tough lessons, he is a special and gifted player.
– When questioned whether it bothered him that N.C. State and North Carolina seemed to be getting more love, he quipped, “I like what we’ve done” and preferred to talk about that. He gave a bit of a sly smile at that moment, and there is good reason for that. My take is that K was saying, in effect, “let people overlook us. That’s exactly what we want them to do.” And if you truly know hoops, then you realize Duke will be just fine this coming season and when it’s all said and done, the Blue Devils will sit in their customary position at the top of the league.
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