Big Man Prospect Payton Dastrup Shows Keen Interest in Duke

dastrupRising senior Payton Dastrup has had a bevy of high-major hoop programs calling him over the past year. But on Tuesday the 6-foot-10 and 230-pound big man’s camp finally heard from a program he’s had a strong affinity for: Duke.

“Coach K is legend, maybe one of the best if not the best coach in history,” the Mesa, Ariz. native said [private] two weeks ago over the phone. “He’s sitting on the top. Overall, the Duke coaching staff and the program is definitely high on my list.”

A polished post prospect with an ability to stretch defenses from the four spot, Dastrup saw his recruitment explode after a stellar series of performances last spring on the AAU circuit, which he has since built off of to push his scholarship offer count to 21 at the moment. Describing himself a “rebounding machine,” the devout Mormon—who runs with the Los Angeles-based California Supreme squad on the Nike EYBL—holds scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Virginia, USC, and Arizona, while he continues to garner increasing interest from Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown and Indiana, among many others. Jayhawk head coach Bill Self attended all of his games in Los Angeles during the first session of the Nike EYBL session.

Despite the heavy interest from a multitude of programs, Dastrup has not narrowed his list of schools down yet.

While healthy, Dastrup has averaged 12.7 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and 7.8 rebounds per game in his first year on the uber competitive Nike EYBL circuit.

Back in April, Dastrup—the No. 38 overall player and No. 7 power forward in the class of 2014 by ESPN—had a golden opportunity to showcase his game to Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was perched front and center to watch coveted point guard target Tyus Jones of Howard Pulley take on Dastrup and California Supreme in Hampton, Va. during the second session of the Nike EYBL. A dislocated ankle injury, however, kept Dastrup on the sidelines for that entire weekend, an experience that was agonizing.

“It was frustrating. I took it the best I could,” Dastrup said in regards to the injury and being forced to sit out. “I had to help be my team’s support system. On the bench I was the loudest.”

Closing on its primary big-man targets has been difficult lately for the Blue Devils. Tony Parker, Mitch McGary, Austin Nichols, Marcus Lee and Tarik Black are some of the more deflating misses experienced lately. On the surface, Dastrup fits the Blue Devil profile at position that is at a premium. He excels in the classroom and possesses ideal size and athleticism to be a valuable asset in a high-major frontcourt, not to mention his upstanding character and a grounded personality.

A large driver in his humbleness, faith plays an integral role in Dastrup’s recruitment. As a deeply committed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dastrup is gravitated to the Blue Devil program due to is its receptiveness to Mormon players, in addition to it being one of the premiere academic and athletic intuitions in the country. Krzyzewski coached Matt Christensen, a fellow member of the Mormon Church, in the 1990s. Beginning in July, Krzyzewski and his staff will instruct incoming freshman and devout Mormon Jabari Parker, who is the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2013 according to ESPN.

The Mormon and hoops connection has led to a friendship between Dastrup and Parker.

“I consider us friends. We have texted. We have talked on the phone a little bit, sharing some of the similarities in the recruiting process,” Dastrup said. “We have gotten to know each other pretty well. He’s an unbelievably humble guy. I have kind of patterned myself a little bit after him I guess you could say. Our relationship has definitely grown over the years.”

Unlike Parker, who is not expected to serve on a Mormon mission trip, Dastrup plans to do a two-year mission immediately following his high school graduation, which will delay his arrival on a college campus until the fall of 2016. The hiatus from the hardwood, however, will give a program a mature, 20-year old big man with four years of eligibility remaining. With no social media or use of phones for two years, Dastrup wants to sign with program that has a very stable coaching situation before he departs for his mission.

“The things I’m looking for the most [in a school] is to be able to come in as a freshman and either contribute as a starter or a significant role player,” he said. “Also, having a solid relationship with specifically the head coach, but also the entire coaching staff and being assured that the whole staff is committed to that program and not wanting to take a job somewhere else. Academics are really high with me too.”

The Duke coaching staff has offered 2014 elite big man Jahlil Okafor, a projected one-and-done player. Hybrid forwards Kevon Looney, who is more of a big wing, and Trey Lyles—another potential one-and-done prospect who seems to be a long shot to end up in Durham—also hold offers from Krzyzewski. So, there looks to be room for more 2014 Duke frontcourt offers to be extended as the staff gets a better feel for the big men in the class.

With the spotlight now brighter and Duke in the picture, Dastrup will compete in this weekend’s NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

And luckily for Dastrup, California Supreme eked its way into the Peach Jam thanks to a 53-51 win in the final game of the Minneapolis EYBL session, giving him a chance to prove himself in front of the Duke coaching staff during the most intense live evaluation period of the summer. [/private]

NBA Top 100 Camp Rosters Announced

nba players logoNBA Top 100 Camp rosters were released.  Blue Devil Nation will be covering the event this week.

First Last City State High School
Shaquan Aaron Aappy Valley CA Rainer Beach
Grayson Allen Jacksonville FL Providence
Larry Austin Springfield IL Lanphier
Keita Bates-Diop Bloomington IL University
Anton Beard North Little Rock AR Parkview
Ben Bentil Townsend DE St. Andrew's
Joel Berry II Apopka FL Lake Highland Prep
Tanveer Bhullar Ontario CN Father Henry Catholic
Leron Black Memphis TN White Station
James Blackmon Fort Wayne IN Bishop Luers
Trevon Bluiett Indianapolis IN Park Tudor
Devin Booker Ocean Springs MS Moss Point High
Elisha Boone Brooklyn NY LINCOLN
Phil Booth, III Ellicott City MD Mt St Joe's
Isaiah Briscoe Union NJ St. Benedict's
Jaylen Brown Atlanta GA Wheeler High School
Jalen Brunson Vernon Hills IL Adlai E Stevenson
Dante Buford Fountain Inn SC Arlington Country Day
Joe Burton Porter TX Atascocita High
Brekkott Chapman Roy UT Roy
Kameron Chatman Portland Or Long Beach Poly
Christopher Chiozza Bartlett TN White Station
Pascal Chukwu Westport CT Fairfield Prep
Dominique Collier Denver CO Denver East
Chance Comanche Culver City CA View Park Prep
Isaac Copeland Raleigh NC Miller School
Payton Dastrup Mesa AZ Mountain View
Keandre Dew San Bernadino CA American Heritage
Idrissa Diallo Studio City CA Cathedral
Cheick Diallo Coram NY Our Savior New American
Tyler Dorsey Pasadena CA Don Bosco
Ricky Doyle Cape Coral FL Bishop Verot
Perry Dozier, Jr. Columbia SC Spring Valley
Brandone Francis Roslindale MA Arlington Country Day
Jakeenan Gant Springfield GA Effingham County
Kaiser Gates Norcross GA st francis
Montaque Gill Caesar Ontario ON Huntington Prep
Isaac Haas Piedmont AL Hokes Bluff
Daniel Hamilton Los Angeles CA St. John Bosco
Omega Harris Bethany OK Putnam City West
T.J. Haws Alpine UT Lone Peak
Adonys Henriquez Orlando FL Christian Prep
Ahmed Hill Augusta GA Aquinas
Justin Jackson Tomball TX Home School
Tadric Jackson Ashburn GA Tift County
Parker Jackson-Cartwright Valley Glen CA Loyola
Demontre Jefferson Milwaukee WI Arlington Country Day(FL)
Kejuan Johnson Atlanta GA Westlake
Avery Johnson The Woodlands TX The John Cooper School
Derrick Jones Marcus Hook PA archbishop John carroll
George Kell San Diego CA St Augustine
Skal Labissiere Olive Branch MS Evangelical Christian
Khadeem Lattin Houston TX Home School
Vic Law South Holland IL ST RITA OF CASCIA
K. J. Lawson Memphis TN Hamilton High
Jalen Lindsey Franklin TN Christ Presbyterian
Kevon Looney Milwaukee WI Hamilton
Jaquan Lyle Evansville IN Bosse
Thon Maker Martinsville VA Carlisle
Abdul Malik Abu Boston MA Kimball Union
Isaiah Manderson Atlanta GA New Garden of Friends
Caleb Martin Mocksville NC Davie County
Cody Martin Mocksville NC Davie County
Charles Matthews Chicago IL St. Rita
King McCLure Ovilla TX Triple A Academy
Thomas McLaughlin Fontana CA Etiwanda
Shelton Mitchell Waxhaw NC Cutherston
Dwayne Morgan Baltimore MD St. Frances
Alonzo Mourning Miami FL Ransom Everglades School
JaQuan Newton Philadelphia PA Neuman Goretti
Riley Norris Albertville AL Albertville High School
Chinanu Onuaku Lanham MD Riverdale Baptist
Kelly Oubre Richmond TX Bush
Josh Perkins Aurora CO Regis Jesuit
Satchel Pierce Barberton OH Kiski Academy
Theo Pinson Greensboro NC Wesleyan Christian
Malik Price-Martin Miami Gardens FL Northeast
Trayvon Reed Snellville GA Shiloh
Malachi Richardson Hamilton Twp NJ Roselle Catholic
Elbert Robinson Garland TX Lakeview Centennial
Devin Robinson Chesterfield VA Christchurch School
Ahmaad Rorie Tacoma WA Lincoln
DeAngelo Russell Louisville KY Montverde
Quinten Snider Louisville KY Ballard
B. J. Stith Lawrenceville VA Brunswick High School
Melvin Swift Houston TX Yates
Jae' Sean Tate Canal Winchester OH Central
James Thompson Baton Rouge LA Parkview Baptist
Karl Towns Piscataway NJ St. Josephs
Reid Travis Minneapolis MN De La Salle
Romelo Trimble Upper Marlboro MD Bishop O'Connell
C. J. Turman Madison GA Morgan County
Myles Turner Bedford TX Trinity
Tyler Ulis Matteson IL Marian Catholic
Rashad Vaughn Golden Valley MN Robbinsdale Cooper
Craig Victor II New Orleans LA St. Augustine
Isaiah Whitehead New York NY Lincoln
Dion Wiley Oxon Hill MD Potomac
Namon Wright Gardena CA Findlay Prep
Stephen Zimmerman Las Vegas NV Bishop Gorman

Coach K, USA Basketball fills staff

USA Basketball and Syracuse University veteran coach Jim Boeheim, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and New Orleans Pelicans head coach and former USA Basketball player Monty Williams, today were announced as USA Basketball Men’s National Team assistant coaches for 2013-16 by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.

USA Basketball announced on May 23 that Duke University’s Naismith Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski, who directed the USA National Teams from 2006-2012 to a 62-1 overall record and back-to-back Olympic championships, would return to lead the USA National Team program for a third quadrennium.

Over the course of the 2013-16 quad, the USA Men’s National Team coaching staff will direct the USA through a team mini-camp in Las Vegas, Nev., July 22-25, 2013; the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly the FIBA World Championship) Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain; if necessary, the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 5-21) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Circumstances change for individuals, and it was time to make some coaching staff changes. We’re excited about the coaches we have coming on board,” said Colangelo, who has served as the Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program since 2005 and seen those teams compile a 62-1 record. “I think we have assembled another outstanding coaching staff, one that I believe will continue to lead our program to success on the court as well as off. Coach Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach who knows the international game as well as anyone and has been an invaluable part of the national team program since its inception in 2006. Coaches Thibodeau and Williams are outstanding additions to our staff, and both of them have already made their mark in the league.

“I also want to acknowledge and thank our previous national team assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan,” added Colangelo. “They were both huge parts of our successes over the last seven years, and I want to publically thank them for all their time and many contributions.”

“I’m really excited about the USA Basketball National Team coaching staff,” said Krzyzewski. “To work with Jim Boeheim again, who’s as close of a friend as you can have in this profession and also one of the brilliant coaches in the history of our game, to have him right along side me is fantastic. We’ve done that for the last seven years, we’re going to do it for four more.

“To have Tom Thibodeau join us, I think his reputation speaks for itself. He was a great assistant who has become an outstanding pro coach, and nobody wants to play the Bulls. The toughness that they show, their togetherness, their competitiveness, and the preparation that is there, that is shown by he and his staff. I think he is one of the best defensive coaches, his defensive game plans are incredible, and so I’m really looking forward to working with him. Then in Monty Williams, it’s ironic that he was an assistant with Nate McMillan, and again he is someone who is well respected in the NBA. The players love playing for him. I actually know him some because is a very close friend of Grant Hill, I’ve met him a number of times, and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“I think the different personalities that we have on this staff and the different strong suites of each coach will make all of us better,” Krzyzewski concluded. “I’m anxious to get started.”

The USA Men’s National Team begins its 2013 training with a July 22-25 mini-camp in Las Vegas that concludes with the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase, featuring a Blue-White intra-squad game, on July 25 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. The mini-camp will feature rising NBA stars, newly minted All-Stars, and members of the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. A full roster will be announced later this month.

To continue reading the official release, go to USA BAsketball Official site.

Grant Hill was a True Blue Legend

grant hillIt was another hot summer day in Durham, North Carolina and I strolled into Sam's Quick Shop for a cool drink. Still a main stay for beverages for Duke students today, Sam's, a convenience store near campus, then featured a full newsstand.

Back in the corner was Grant Hill who has a penchant for reading the latest gossip in the Star and Enquirer. Dressed in long Levi shorts which were the thing in the early 90's, Hill like many other Duke Basketball players was a main stay at the location.

Anyhow, on another occasion, I saw him reading a magazine and for whatever reason I remember the cover featured an article on a young music artist named Tamia. At the time that meant nothing for me but the name somehow stuck in my memory and Tamia would eventually become Hills' wife.

That is but one of the many memories I have about Grant and probably one of the more impertinent ones for he was a true Duke legend, but somehow, no memories of Grant seem small.

Of course, the biggest memory for me was his amazing pin point accurate pass to Christian Laettner in that much ballyhooed win over Kentucky in one of the most famous games in history.

I remember going to Sam's the year before to buy a copy of the Sports Illustrated he appeared on which captured his amazing dunk over Kansas on the cover with his fade hair cut in play.  The team was like Rock Stars back in the day and there was no shortage of press for their accomplishments.

From G.Q. magazine to the many daily newspapers which still carried major weight back in the day, Duke players and Grant were the new kids on the block and in that day media darlings.  Perhaps, the success of the back to back teams, is a major reason why the guys who were considered and called "America's team," at the time eventually became more and more vilified, not much unlike the New York Yankees where you love them or hate them.

Grant Hill memories no matter how big or small are special to Duke fans. The aforementioned cover was of course the year before the "shot," or the "pass," in Hills case. And there in lies the key to why his memories are extra special.

As a freshman, Hill helped lead Duke to their first national championship under Mike Krzyzewski and the first one is always special.  Winning the first title legitimized Duke as one of the nations best and the rest is as they say history.

Before that happened Duke fans thirsted and dreamed of a national championship for their program and it would never have happened without Sir Grants' contributions.

Sir Grant! That has a nice ring to it and I suppose a retired jersey serves as a special reminder as to how good he was. But if Coach K were to "Knight," his players, Hill would certainly be one of them, if not the first of them.

Grant Hill has long held a special place in my heart as a fan and he is pretty much on equal ground with Christian Laettner as my all time favorite player.

Hill was one of the most talented players ever to wear the Duke uniform. In some ways he is the Blue Devils version of Michael Jordan in that his contributions have been immensely valuable to the program.

Some of you never got to see his exploits or the drive the contingent of Laettner, Hill and Hurley shared. Hill was a part of the first great Duke teams and at it's core. He was the glue guy and a player Krzyzewski never had to worry about being ready to play.

When you've been around as long as I have, special memories can almost run together over the years. In fact, it's overwhelming to think back on the beginning of the K era at Duke and to have lived it to this day.

But while some memories fade, those I have of Grant Hill no matter how small stick out. Things like when he returned to campus with the Detroit Pistons for s summer practice when Chis Collins's dad was at the helm.

No matter how insignificant any memory seems with concern to Grant, one would think that they  should all form together in some way where I can more easily express them in some special way.

But with concern to Grant, all I can really say is he was truly one of the most special players to ever come through Durham and no matter how hard I try, there is just no way to properly convey that through words.

Grant Hill recently announced his retirement from the NBA after a 19 year career

College Football preview magazines hit the stands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore the advent of the World Wide Web, football fans would anxiously await the beginning of June when the college football preview magazines would hit the stands.

A lot has changed since then, with information as close as the click of the mouse. No longer do people have to live with somewhat dated information.  But the preview magazines still hold a special place in the hearts of many, and they have just now started to hit the newsstands.

So I made the journey to the local book store yesterday and I will pass along what the previews think about the team I cover, the Duke Blue Devils.

The three magazines that are currently out are Athlon, Lindy's and TSN or The Sporting News, which merged with Street and Smith's a few years back.  While one would think the marriage of two great partners would produce a special yearbook, the results are more bare bones than one might expect, and that means Athlon and Lindy's are probably a little better.

My favorite pre season magazine, Phil Steele's College Football, has a few days left before it hits the stands. While there is not as much on the current year's teams beyond the basics, they make up for it with some amazing history, stats, and lists of interest.

Anyhow, Duke is picked 7th in its division by each of the publications --  dead last in what is now a 14-team league.  In short, the Duke program is still earning respect out there even as they come off their first bowl season in quite some time.

Athlon ranks the Blue Devils the 73rd best team in the country while Lindys' rates them 82nd. TSN does not do the national ratings. Atlon, which is the only one to project win-loss record, predicts the Blue Devils to go 2-6 in the ACC and 5-7 overall.

As for pre season accolades for players, Ross Cockrell is 1st team All-ACC in all of the publications. Duke punter Will Monday is listed as first in two of the three projections as well.  Lindy's lists Duke kicker Ross Martin as the 7th best place kicker in the country and they slot Will Monday in as the third best punter in the land.

It takes time for perceptions to turn around with concern to pre season prognostications, so I am not looking for too many more polls to have the Blue Devils picked higher than sixth in their division, but it is clear that Duke is headed in the right direction, as each of the publications acknowledges.  So while the pre season magazines certainly don't carry the weight they once did, they are still popular in some circles and there is nothing like sitting on the deck in summer with a hard copy to thumb through.

As for the coming season's edition of the Duke Football team?  There is nothing more satisfying than proving some arm chair know-it-all types wrong.

Sidebar - The 1962 Street & Smith's pre-season yearbook picked Duke 2nd in the nation, and featured Jay Wilkinson on the cover.  A nearly mint copy brings about 40 bucks in the collector's market.