The Blue Devils will lose a lot of talent and experience from their defensive backs next season, but will re-load in the class of 2013. On Sunday, Duke added their 8th defensive back commitment to the class in safety Deondre Singleton. Singleton is a 6'1" 185 pound safety from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He finished his senior season with 47 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles. With over a dozen scholarship offers, he was in high demand, but chose the Blue Devils over other finalists in Appalachian State and Penn State. An official visit to Durham this weekend sealed the deal for the talented safety, and he informed the Duke coaching staff of his decision on Sunday morning. Singleton is the 19th commitment in the class of 2013, and the Blue Devils likely have just 2 scholarships remaining in this class, with Signing Day quickly approaching on February 6.
BDN caught up with Deondre prior to his official visit, and it was clear that the Blue Devils had made a strong impression on the star student-athlete. Stay tuned for more from the newest Blue Devil.
Blue Devil Nation Premium has learned that Duke has offered a schlorship to Kevon Looney. When you're a versatile and skilled 6'8", your highly respected five-time state title winning coach says that -- as a rising junior -- you're the best player he's ever coached, including NBA players Rodney Buford and Carl and Marcus Landry, college programs will take notice. When you add in a 3.6 cumulative GPA and the reputation of being a high character player, schools from around the country from Stanford to Duke will start to pay even closer attention. So it's no surprise that Kevon Looney, a player who fits such a description, has seen his recruitment and rankings take off over the past few months.
Partially out of necessity, Looney was thrust into a starting role as a freshman for Coach Tom Diener, a thirty year veteran, and the Hamilton Wildcats of Milwaukee. He took like a fish to water, averaging a near double-double and earning second-team All-City honors. Despite being severely undermanned (the starting five played the vast majority of the minutes and included three freshmen), the Wildcats enjoyed a miraculous run to the state semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison before losing narrowly to Memorial HS of Madison. This past season, as a sophomore, Kevon played more of a point-forward position for Coach Diener, and averaged over twenty points, nearly nine rebounds, and two assists. In the toughest conference in Wisconsin, Looney was named the Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year. Kevon was also a unanimous First Team All-State selection by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and a Sophomore All-American by MaxPreps.
This camp season, Looney's unique skill set, versatility and rebounding on both ends of the court really helped him stand out, first at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, California. He followed that up by performing well at the NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA. In July, he was invited to compete at Nike's prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy, where he excelled as a long, face-up wing in his preferred small forward position alongside teammates Austin Nichols and Andrew Wiggins on the Duke camp team. On the AAU circuit, the Wisconsin native played for the Milwaukee Rebels, where he stood out at the Spiece Run N' Jam in Fort Wayne, the Kansas City Classic, the NY2LA Swish 'N Dish, and the Under Armour Summer Jam in Wisconsin. Most recently, he played for the Rebels at the FAB 48, where Duke special assistant coach Nate James watched him at courtside.
When the summer drew to a close, Kevon has been recognized as a consensus top ten caliber player in the class of 2014. I spoke with Kevon at multiple events and, off the court, he's got the same poise, directness, and maturity that belies his age and so impresses on the court.
How do you feel about your AAU season overall?
It’s gone pretty well. We played pretty well.
You’ve had a bit of a breakout year.
I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played this spring and summer. (laughs) I’ve been working hard.
How do you account for it? Was it something you did either in the off-season or the high school season? Getting more physically developed?
Yeah, I think it’s a lot of working out and staying in the gym..just putting in the time. Just try to out-work people, working on things that people say I need to improve on.
So it’s a work ethic thing for you?
I would assume this is the case, but do you feel that your recruitment has picked up over the last few months?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve gotten a lot more suitors.
Which ones? Who are some of your suitors?
I’ve got Michigan State, Kansas, Wake Forest, Stanford. All of them offered.
Oh, so you must be a good student.
Yeah, and Kentucky and North Carolina have shown interest as well. There are some others.
How far along are you in your recruitment?
Not very far along. I’m going to try to sit down and put a list together in the middle of August. I’d like to cut it down a little bit.
So if a school wants to get in with you, they’ve got to start pretty soon, would you say?
Probably, but I’m still open.
What do you view as your strengths and weaknesses?
My weaknesses are I need to get stronger. I need to improve my athleticism and work on my handle.
Do you view yourself as like a 3-4?
I really see myself as a pure 3. A 3.
Will distance be a factor in your decision?
No, not really.
What was it like to play with Andrew Wiggins and also Austin Nichols?
They’re both very good. I had never seen them before this summer or played with them.
What would be your scouting report on both of them?
They’re both very athletic and they’re both real good.
Away from the court, what would you like the audience to know about you?
I’m a humble and smart kid. I have a good family and I’m fun to be around.
Although you‘re capable of doing both, do you consider yourself more of a face-up player or back-to-the-basket player?
I like to face-up more. I mean, I’ll post if I have to, but it’s usually only because I have to. I like to face up against my opponent.
You mentioned before that you’re a good student. Academically, you’ll be in good shape?
Yeah, my cumulative right now is about a 3.6.
Well, that’s impressive. That’s better than two of these normal guys combined.
What do you know about Duke and have they called?
Oh, they’re a great program and actually, they have called. I can’t believe I forgot.
And what did they say?
They said that they wanted to come see me play.
Do you know which coach was communicating with you?
And what did he say to you?
Just that he was looking forward to seeing me.
And what do you know about the program?
I know they’ve got a great program. I know they play in the ACC and I know that they have a great coach in Coach K. We saw them practice.
What do you know about Coach K?
I know he’s one of the greatest college coaches.
What is it like for you to play in front of college coaches? Is it helpful for you?
Well, I did it last year and I thought it was a bit stressful, but this year, it’s a lot more fun.
Does it make you excited or nervous before a game? Can you telling anything different about yourself before a game?
I mean, like the first time it did, but now, I can’t say it really does. I get pretty excited every time. After you talk to them awhile, it helps.
What’s the one thing that you hope college coaches walk away thinking about you? “Oh, that kid’s a…?"
That I’m one of the best players out there, that I’m a good person, and stuff like that.
I read in an article that your high school coach, Tom Diener, who had coached two other NBA players in high school, felt that you were the best player that he’s ever coached.
Well, that’s high praise. It’s great to hear stuff like that, but you know, you still have to keep heading to the gym and work hard.
I was wondering what went through your head when you heard that.
I just didn’t pay attention to it. I just tried to work hard. (laughs)
Do you have any visits planned?
I don’t have any plans, but I’ll probably take some visits later in August.
Do you have a favorite at this point?
No, no favorites at this point.
For you, what is the difference between AAU basketball and high school?
In AAU, there’s a higher level of competition than in my high school. We’re playing with better players in AAU. Everyone plays harder. We get to travel a lot more.
This year, in high school, will you be traveling a lot? Going to showcases or tournaments?
Oh, no, we pretty much stay in the same state.
I was hoping that some people could see you play around the country. What are your goals for next season?
In high school, I’d like for us to be state champs.
Do you have a good shot?
We have a shot. We were only like two games away this year and when I was a freshman. The first year we got really close, so I’d really like to be state champs. I think eventually we will.
Well, with you there, I’m sure you’ve got a great chance. Where do you feel comfortable shooting the ball?
I feel pretty much comfortable shooting anywhere middle and in.
Like 15 feet and in?
Yeah, I like to attack. I like to shoot pretty close in. I can shoot three’s a lot, but, you know, I guess I prefer to get a better shot.
Your handle seems to be something you worked a lot on. What has been the key and do you feel a noticeable improvement?
Oh, yeah, I work on my handle a lot. I mean, I don’t have to dribble a lot in AAU because I’ve got two good ball handlers, I just try to give it to them and go to my spot. Like bang bang. But yeah, I work on my handle a lot.
One of your strengths is defensive versatility. Which position do you feel comfortable defending?
I think I can pretty much defend anybody. (laughs) Well, I mean, 2 and up.
Yeah, I think 2, 3, and 4. What would be some people who will be important whenever you do decide?
My parents, my parents are most of the influence. A couple of my AAU coaches. Mostly, my parents.
Did your parents play basketball at all?
My dad played a little bit.
I’m not sure, I think it was like NAIA school. I can’t even think of it.
Does he work with you a lot?
He worked with me when I was smaller, but not right now.
Do you have a trainer?
Actually, I work out with my AAU coaches. I’ve been lifting a lot lately.
Yeah, it looks like that in the upper body. You’re looking a little stronger. What’s your current height and weight?
And what would you like to be?
I’m trying to get to at least 205.
One thing that comes up with you a lot is versatility.
Yeah, I’m pretty versatile. I can play a lot of positions and I can score from a lot of positions. I would say I’m pretty versatile.
Lastly, for an audience who has never seen you play before, how would you describe your game?
The Blue Devils received a New Year's present with the commitment of Folsom safety Phillip Carter at the start of 2013. After initially committing to San Jose State, the California star opened things back up after the departure of Head Coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado. Coach Lubick led the Blue Devils' recruitment of Carter, who will play safety in Coach Knowle's 4-2-5 defense in Durham. BDN spoke with the newest Blue Devil commit shortly before his trip to Durham this weekend.
How did your senior season go?
Yeah, obviously I go to Folsom High School, we went 14 and 1 this year, we lost to De La Salle, one of the best teams in the country. We had a successful year, won section championship, and league championship. I play receiver and strong safety and offensively, actually the first game of the season I had an 10 receptions for 317 yards and five touchdowns just in one game. That was pretty good and then I ended the year with sixty something receptions with almost 700 yards and I think 12 touchdowns and then on defense I had 90 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 10 pass break-ups, those are the main facts. Just being a senior on the team, I felt I had to like step up my game from last year and I really improved and became a better leader as well.
You did a little bit of everything in high school; where do college coaches see you playing?
I think the consensus is that they see me as safety, but there has been colleges that put me as receiver or both, like San Jose State, Harvard, Yale, Northern Arizona, they recruited me as both. Basically as an athlete I can play either side of the ball, but Duke sees me as a safety, and they’ve already been talking to me about defensive stuff, and stuff about safety.
You committed to San Jose State early in your recruiting process. Can you talk a little about that decision and how your recruiting process has gone overall?
My early interest came from the Ivy league schools like Harvard and Yale. I took a visit out there during the summer and visited the campuses and stuff. I would have chosen Harvard over Yale but Harvard didn’t really have the major that I want, which is civil engineering. So then I just waited that out and other schools came like, Air Force, Army and Northern Arizona and San Jose State. I committed to them because I like the coaching staff. Then Coach MacIntyre left for the Colorado job and took most of his staff with him and I am left like kind of in shock a little bit, then I kind of reopened my recruiting options. Luckily one of my coaches on the high school team, my position coach, knows Coach Lubick, he got in contact with Coach Lubick and told him about me and then Coach Lubick started recruiting me and that’s how I ended up here.
What do you know about the Duke football program and the university itself?
I know that, Duke is definitely one of the top schools in the country, in a lot of the majors and fields that they have. I think like top ten in almost, in a lot of them. I know that they are academically, and I did see the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati and I did watch that game. I know were they’re worldwide.
I know that this late in the recruiting process, things can get stressful. Where do things stand with your commitment to Duke? Are other schools still talking to you?
Definitely 100% to Duke. There is a little bit of business this weekend and I am excited for that. People have already, I think I got like twenty new followers on Twitter just all affiliated with Duke so I really like that they are making me feel comfortable. Their blogs were talking about all my highlights and giving me compliments. I feel really good about Duke.
It sounds like Duke fans are excited to see you play. Do you have anything else you want them to know about you?
Academically they can know that, I want to be a civil engineer and that I have been a really good student most of my life. I don’t really do any off field the stuff other than like hang out with friends.
The Blue Devils will lose a lot of talent and experience from their defensive backs next season, and are looking to reload for the years ahead with the recruiting class of 2013. Two defensive back prospects are already on campus in Evrett Edwards and Quay Mann, but the staff remains in pursuit of another talented prospect. Deondre Singleton is a 6'1" 185 pound safety from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He finished his senior season with 47 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles. With over a dozen scholarship offers, he has been in high demand, but has named a top three of Appalachian State, Duke, and Penn State. Deondre is looking forward to his official visit in Durham this weekend.
How did your senior season go?
We definitely made history this year, knowing that this year was actually our first winning season at the varsity level in this region, 6A. And we came up short a little bit. We had played a couple of games that we should have won, lost by close, like two to three points, and which really made the difference between us making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. But everything we played, we played very well. I expected to play as well as we did, but we played very well. I think I had a pretty good season, not a great season, but I did pretty good this year.
You played some on both sides of the ball in high school; where do college coaches talk to you about playing at the next level?
A lot of college coaches, they talk to me, they like me as corner because of my height, but they also see me as being able to play safety because of my ball skills and my being able to tackle.
What do you think are your strengths that you will bring to the college level as a defensive back?
I'm very good at baiting quarterbacks and reading, you know, to tell what a quarterback's going to do before they do it. I'm very good at helping people get lined up and make sure everybody knows what to do and make sure we're in the right coverage and whatnot at the right time.
What are the most important things you are looking for in a college?
First, a program that's either they're-- I mean, going somewhere where I'm guaranteed a great education and a great degree. And then I want to go somewhere where I feel like I'm at home, where I can feel like I can trust everybody, the coaches and players as well, and that the community around the college is very strong and supportive.
Where do you stand with scholarship offers and which schools have been recruiting you the hardest?
Right now I have 13 offers, but the three schools that have been recruiting me the hardest are Duke, App State and Penn State.
Have you had a chance to visit any schools yet?
I've taken a visit to App State and I've taken a visit to Penn State in December, on the 6th.
What did you like about those visits?
Well, at Penn State, things were very encouraging. They're very cool and stuff, but they really had a purpose of their trying to win despite their sanctions and all that stuff. They're trying to produce great ballplayers and great men. So that was one good thing about them. And then App State, they're doing the same thing, but they're moving up. They're trying to move up and expand and become a full FBS program and their players, they just produce players and turn them into the NFL, stuff like that. They care about their players.
Which coaches have been recruiting you from Duke and what have you talked with them about?
I talked a lot with Coach Jones, and Coach Knowles the defensive coordinator, they both visited last week on Saturday. Yeah, last week on Saturday, and it was nice. They just came down and talked a lot about how Duke is on the rise and how this year they went back to a bowl, to their first bowl game in like eighteen or nineteen years, or something like that. And we just talked a lot about that and what the education there is like, what kinds of jobs it opens up and opportunities with them, how they're really starting to care more about football there now. So the coaches are really turning the program and the community around.
Growing up in the South and with other football players in your family, are there schools that you've grown up following?
Not really, but my cousin, he coached in ACC for a long time and he still does at Maryland. But not really any specific school right now. I mean, I always liked Clemson growing up.
You obviously have your visit scheduled to Duke for this weekend. When do you think you will make your final decision?
I don't know. I'll probably wait a couple weeks after I go to Duke. It's just to make sure I don't have anywhere else I'm going before I make my decision.
DURHAM -The Duke Blue Devils outscored the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 46-29 in the second half to take home a 73-57 win in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday evening. The win comes on the heels of Duke's first loss of the season last Saturday to N.C. State, and pushes the Blue Devils' season record to 16-1 overall and 3-1 in the ACC.
Tonight's game was not always pretty. All-American hopeful Mason Plumlee struggled with his shooting in the first half, going 2 of 12, but he hit 5 of 8 in the second half to finish with 16 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. That double-double keeps Plumlee atop the ACC in that category with 11 on the season. At one second half timeout, Coach Mike Krzyzewski met him at halfcourt with a huge hug after Plumlee's play had finally turned the tide in the Blue Devils' favor.
But it was the play of Seth Curry that put the Blue Devils over the top. The senior finished with a game-high 24 points, knocking down a career-high 6 of 7 three-point shots (the six were all in a row after missing his first), including one shotclock-beating three pointer from deep NBA range. Curry continues to battle through his shin injury. In his post-game press conference, Coach Krzyzewski stated that Curry would practice just one time before next week's Miami game, due to the lingering pain from the shin.
Duke was also aided by the play of two freshmen tonight. Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of his offensive slump to score 15 points, and he also added 5 rebounds from the guard spot. Amile Jefferson pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds and scored 6 points, including a critical basket just before the first half ended to cut the Tech lead to one point.
After shooting just 27% in the first half, Duke righted the ship and finished he game at 40% from the field. They outscored the Yellow Jackets in the paint by a 32-24 margin. Duke also benefited greatly from 28 points off Yellow Jacket turnovers, and they outscored their opponent 12-4 on fast break points.
Coach Krzysewski said Kelly was week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day. Without him, the Blue Devils are a work in progress, almost like a new team. It is clear that they are once again finding their team chemistry and that they are trying combinations to make up for the loss of a senior leader who not only stuffed the stat sheet with measurables, but also brought intangibles, such as an understanding of spacing, to the table.
But the schedule does not wait. Next up: Duke will take on league leader Miami next Wednesday night in Coral Gables. Check out tonight's videos from Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry below.
The Blue Devils will host a pair of Las Vegas prospects this weekend on official visits. Yesterday, we profiled WR Ryan Smith, who has the Blue Devils at the top of his list. Today, we check in with OL Elijah George, who will take his first official visit to Duke this weekend. At 6'6" and 240 pounds with a sub 5-second 40-yard time, George is one of the top uncommitted offensive line prospects in the country. BDN first introduced Duke fans to George last spring, when the Blue Devils were among the first to offer the rising senior. Since that time, George has remained low-key in his recruiting process, but has picked up offers from a number of PAC-12 and other FBS programs.
How did your senior season go?
We went 10 and 1.
How did you play and what was your role on the team this year?
I played good. My role in the offense is like-- we have team captains and one of my roles as the captain, you know, just make sure we don't give up anything. That's my main goal.
What kind of offense does your high school run?
Mostly running, like 95 percent running and 5 percent pass.
Can you talk a little about how your recruitment has gone since we spoke last year? What schools are recruiting you the hardest?
Well, it's been Duke, San Diego State, and some other schools that have been recruiting me hardest, but just taking it slow and just going to go make visits and enjoy it.
What have you been hearing from Duke?
Coach Lubick has been recruiting me. It's a cool program. It’s like a beginning program. I know that they're not, the football program at Duke as big as basketball. They have a goal to get to that level. That's what I like.
Did you get a chance to see Duke play at all this year?
Over here they don't really show East Coast teams that much and I like their offense, but since they don't play over here that much, I wasn't able to study it more.
I know you have a visit scheduled to Duke this weekend. Have you had a chance to visit any other schools?
This will be my first visit.
What will you be looking for on your visit to Duke?
What could they offer me for the next four years, and what kind of people they are and just how it's like for the average player. Are they achieving their goals for the football program and for their players? Things like that.
Do you know when you want to make your final decision?
I'll probably make it the day before signing day or a couple days before.