Duke offer excites Justise Winslow

When watching the Houston Hoops AAU team play during the Nike Peach Jam this past week, it doesn't take one long to see why Duke extended an offer to Justise Winslow.  Riding the momentum he built while playing on the dominating Team USA U-17 team, Winslow continued his torrid play, combining a nice skill set along with athleticism and tenacity to form an excellent overall package. In speaking with Winslow off the court, I was just as impressed as I was with his game between the lines.   Check out the latest BDN Premium interview with this intriguing star. [private] Continue reading

Duke hosts powerful Norco RB Joseph Ajeigbe on unofficial visit

Entering the 2012 season, running back figures to be one of the Blue Devils’ deepest positions, but that depth will take a hit in 2013 after the expected graduation of Desmond Scott and Patrick Kurunwune. Yesterday, BDN’s Football Friday broke down the Duke recruiting class of 2013, noting the absence of a running back commitment thus far in the class. With only a handful of scholarships remaining, the coaching staff has searched far and wide for an impact rushing prospect, and one player has risen to the top of the wish list. BDN was first to introduce Duke fans to Norco RB Joseph Ajeigbe back in April, shortly after the Blue Devils offered the powerful runner a scholarship. A 5’9” 195 pound rising senior, Ajeigbe ran for 20 touchdowns and 1,673 yards as a junior for the same high school that produced current Blue Devil Corbin McCarthy and former Stanford star Toby Gerhart. Duke’s interest in Ajeigbe appears to be mutual, as the talented prospect traveled across the country with his family for an unofficial visit. BDN caught up with Joseph shortly after he wrapped up his unofficial visit in Durham, which came on the heels of a trip to Northwestern earlier this week.

BDN: How did your visit to Northwestern go?

Alright.  I visited Northwestern, got there on the 18th.  They took us around, we were mostly with Coach Brown, but we met the whole football staff that day. We got a tour of the football facilities and everything. And then they took us around campus and showed us all the improvements they’re making to the campus and stuff like that. After that, we went and grabbed lunch in the city and then we came back and looked at more meetings. Overall, I enjoyed my experience meeting the coaches and everything. Everybody seems real genuine there. I stayed with the players for a little bit on Thursday.  On campus I was able to spend some time with the incoming freshmen, talk to them, see how they like it and get their perspective on things. That’s pretty much that experience.

BDN: And how about your visit to Duke?

Yeah, we just got to North Carolina today, to campus. As soon as you get off the plane, you could tell this place is different, the trees - really beautiful campus. We got on campus and met with Coach Lubick right away. We went to see Coach Cut because Coach Cut had to get out of town today. He took us up to see Coach Cut, we had about a 30 minute meeting with Coach Cut and you can just tell he has a good idea about where this program is going and everything, so that was pretty cool. Then we took a facility tour, they showed us the new additions, the new indoor practice facility, the new outdoor practice facility, and he also showed us an artist's rendering of what the new stadium will look like, and it’s really impressive.

BDN: I know you have a former teammate on the Duke team now; did you get to see him or spend any time with the Duke players?

Yeah, yeah, I saw Corbin [McCarthy] when they were giving us a tour.  We bumped into him when he was getting ready to go in and workout. And actually we were just text messaging back and forth because we’re going to try to hook up tonight to see a little bit of the city and hang out with some of the teammates and see how they get along and stuff like that, so I’ll do that tonight, get a chance to meet the team and stuff.

BDN: It sounds like this has been a good trip to two great schools; do you have any other visits planned for the summer?

Yeah, when we get back to California we’ll probably look into the timing to get out to Arizona to see the University of Arizona. Now that I’ve seen two schools, I know the questions to ask and the things to look for, so we’ll try to make a couple more visits. Then when the season starts, if I haven’t got to the point where I’m ready to make a decision, maybe do some official visits to try and get out.

BDN: You mentioned that you have an idea about the questions to ask now that you’ve taken a couple visits. What are some of the most important things that you’re looking for in a school now?

One of the most important things, because we’re talking about prestigious universities, no matter how smart of a kid you are, these are big name schools and one of the important things for me is to get a feel for the academic support staff, the professors, the tutors, counselors, and academic advisors to get a feel for how they do things. I know some of the questions now to ask them about how things work for student-athletes around campus. I kind of got a feel for that at Duke and at Northwestern, I got to meet with the advisors and everything. Football kind of takes care of football, you know, they show you all the facilities and everything, but the kind of thing you want to pay attention to is where they are on academics.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Joseph, and safe travels to you and your family.

Sounds good. Thanks, man.

Nike Peach Jam Friday Day Session Updates – Duke prospects shine

Julius Randle is tearing up the Nike Peach Jam, and BDN is here to bring you all the action. Check out Andrew Slater's in- depth interview with the "Real JR" and then as a Premium member you can watch our two videos of Randle from Augusta and get all the updates as they happen. A ton of information awaits you as a BDN Premium member, so join today and see what you've been missing out on. Photo copyright Rick Crank and BDN

The Nike Peach Jam is in full swing and we are here in South Carolina to bring you updates on all the action and the latest on the many Duke prospects here.  Austin Nichols, Matt Jones, Julius Randle, Justise Winslow, Theo Pinson, and Jahlil Okafor are but a few of the informative interviews we have on tap.  In addition, there are some younger kids starting to catch the staff's eye as well.  You can learn about them and much more as a member.  Considering the bevy of interviews we have up for Blue Devil Nation Premium members, if you've been on the fence about it, this is the perfect time to join.

Here is the recap of the Friday day session:

Howard Pulley 74 Team Texas 65

First of all, this game had some intensity to it, as Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, the Duke staff and others crowded the court to the point where they would not let any more people into the gym once the game started.  The game was much closer than the score indicates. A Julius Randle turnover allowed Pulley to go up 4, but he then came down to score and "and one" inside, which cut it to 1 with little time left. Pulley's Tyus Jones drew a triple team and found an open teammate for a 3 and that pretty much sealed the deal. After a Team Texas miss, Jones quickly scored again on a drive and then assisted on another trey and that made the final score 74-65.  Despite his team being upset, Randle was a beast again, scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 boards.  While aggressiveness is something Randle thrives on (and as he told BDN, he feels he can take anybody off the dribble at any time) his aggression sometimes causes turnovers and could also make him foul prone at the next level.  But the big picture with Randle is he is a big-time force on the floor.  One coach sitting beside me quipped, "It's hard to evaluate the players around him and those who defend him in that he's so good." I have to agree. Then there was Tyus Jones, a smooth, spunky leader on the court who thinks [private] "team first," yet still gets his own shots too. Jones's late heroics helped his team to a win; he finished with 24 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Randle and Jones are now the number one and two scorers at the entire event.

Capel will follow Team Texas

Jeff Capel has been sitting with his brother Jason for much of the camp today. Capel said he would go to Orlando and the AAU Nationals and be anywhere Julius Randle and Matt Jones were playing. So, yes, there will always be a Duke presence as Randle nears his decision.

Semi Ojeleye continues to play well

Ojeleye scored 20 points and grabbed 3 boards as his team coasted past Bluff City Legends. I just love his size and strength.  I have a mini-interview coming with Semi.  I will tell you that the Duke staff feels really good about their chances with him, and that it could be over in the near future. He's just a Duke kid through and through.

Jahlil Okafor struggles?

Part of the problem is his own play, but part is his teammates just not looking for him.  While I think the latter is the main culprit, still Jahlil was not impressive in Mac Irvin's loss to CIA Bounce. He fouled out in 15 minutes of play and his numbers were dismal:  2 points and 0 rebounds. He has not helped himself here so far.  By the way, Andrew Wiggins had 21 points for CIA.  He is one of the four best players in camp.

Oh Boo!

The dysfunctional bunch known as Boo Williams is again winless. In their first game, Anthony "Cat" Barber and Al Freeman jawed hard at one another, and it took a while for Barber to let it go. Talent and no production makes college coaches pause.  Freeman and his game are still a bit of a wreck.  Note: the Duke staff has not watched a single game this squad has played. And wasn't star forward Troy Williams supposed to have decided? Hmm.

Marcus Lee struggles as well

Marcus Lee is foul prone in a big way, and he once again finished the game on the bench as California Supreme lost again, and is now 0-3. Lee had 2 points and 5 boards; his offense is anemic. Yes he's talented and long, but putting all the hype aside, he is a little overrated and I am not the only one who feels that way.

Justise Winslow

From my conversation with him, this really seems like a good kid. He has recently been offered by Calipari and Kentucky, and he spoke highly of them, but Duke is on his list and he also spoke well of Coach K and his recent U-17 camp experience with Team USA. His production here has been good; he went for 16 points and 8 rebounds in his team's two point win this morning.

Yes, Theo!  You do have an offer!

Theo Pinson has had an offer for over eight months.  Odd how nobody knew, but the bottom line is he does now.  More may come out from this, not that it even matters at this point.  In the morning game he scored 23 points to lead CP3 to a 75-71 win over California Supreme.

Nichols Interview

Don't miss Andrew's interview with Austin Nichols.  The Duke coaches feel he will take all five of his visits before deciding.