Myles Turner
AdidasNations
Garden Grove, CA  8/4/13

Texas Big Man Myles Turner Gives the Straight Scoop to BDN

Myles Turner AdidasNations Garden Grove, CA  8/4/13
Myles Turner
AdidasNations
Garden Grove, CA 8/4/13

Myles Turner in some ways has been the forgotten man in the 2014 recruiting class.  The 6’11,” 220 pound center out of Euless, Texas, while not ranked as highly as is Jahlil Okafor, is nevertheless a major, major talent in his own right, and is a guy who is wanted by elite programs across the nation.  Duke is not like Arizona under Sean Miller, where anyone who can fog a mirror gets an offer.  No, while the Blue Devils are certainly casting a wider net than they did in years past, when a player receives an offer from Mike Krzyzewski, he is special.  He knows he is wanted — really wanted — by Coach K.  Myles Turner has an offer, and Duke is recruiting him vigorously.

And for good reason.  Last weekend at the AdidasNations camp was the first chance I got to see him play, as he missed the Pangos Camp earlier in the summer with an illness.  Turner is a player.  He did not dominate games with his scoring.  He still has a lot of room for growth in terms of his post moves and his development of a face-up game.  He can shoot the ball, but with time and good coaching he’ll learn how to get his shot more easily.  Additional strength will help as well.  But he is long, athletic, and active.  He is a jumping jack in there, blocking tons of shots and altering lots more.  He runs the floor extremely well.  Myles has shot up the recruiting rankings in recent months as more scouts have had an opportunity to see him play.  And as he continues to develop this year, in particular on offense, he’s going to move even higher.  There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to be a major factor for an elite college program, and he could be such a player for Duke should he choose to enroll in Durham.

Myles is a very engaging young man to talk to as well.  He’s smart, articulate, and outgoing, as well as appreciative of the attention given to him.

Here’s what he had to say to BDN last weekend at the AdidasNations camp in Garden Grove, CA.

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BDN: I’m here with Myles Turner after the semifinal game of the Adidas Nations.  You guys are heading for the finals tomorrow.

MT: Yes, sir.

BDN: All right.  6’11” out of Texas.  Myles, some of our readers are a little confused.  Can you make it clear: you do or don’t have an official offer from Duke?

MT: I do have an official offer from Duke.

BDN: OK.  One of the things that people are always wondering about is this: what does that process look like?  Do you just get a phone call and it’s Coach K and he says “hey, we’d like to offer you” or how is it really handled?  Is it more formal than that, or –

MT: Pretty much so.  I was talking with Coach Nate James and he’s talking about it a little bit, but I really don’t think anything’s official until I hear from the Head Coach.  Coach Krzyzewski saw me play a bit and then one day he just texted me and introduced himself, and then we talked on the phone for a bit and that’s when he extended his official offer.

BDN: The first time you talked to him on the phone, that was it, huh?

MT: Second time.  (laughs)

BDN: Now, I saw that you recently cut the list from real big to still pretty big, to 25.  You’ve got a lot of people coming at you.  You’ve really rocketed up the ratings over the last few months.  What do you attribute that to?  How do you think that’s happened?

MT: I think just through my hard work that I’ve been putting in last summer and all this summer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t play last summer due to a broken ankle –

BDN: I was going to ask you about that –

MT:  Yeah, and then just, really, I put on some weight. I’ve always been real skinny, but I put on a bit of weight, just really been working on my shot.  Still trying to work on my back-to-the-basket game a little bit, and I think it’s just being noticed.  I attribute that to my AAU coach and everybody who’s working for me.

BDN:  You going to try to put on some weight.  What are you at now?

MT: I’m at 220.

BDN: What do you want to get up to?

MT:  I definitely want to try to get up to around 230, comfortably.

BDN: All right, so you’re going to be in the weight room?

MT: For sure.

BDN: It’s not going to be milkshakes?

MT: (laughs) No, sir.

BDN: All right. Review for us, if you would, what your summer has looked like.  I know you were at Under Armour, and where’d you go from there?

MT: I started off in Houston, and then I went to the Under Armour event.  I went to the Real Deal in the Rock, from there I went to the NBA camp –

BDN: Charlottesville.

MT: Yes.  Charlottesville, Virginia.  Both the Nike Skills Camps.  I went to the Amare Stoudemire Camp and the LeBron James Camp.  I went to the John Lucas Camp.

BDN: Were you in Philly too?

MT: No, I didn’t go to that one.  I also went to the Hoop Combine, up where I’m from.  The Texas Hoop Combine.

BDN:  OK, and then you were in Vegas.

MT: Vegas, yeah, the Fab 48, and then Milwaukee.

BDN: How’d Vegas go?

MT: Vegas went well.

BDN: Vegas was crazy, wasn’t it?

MT: Oh yeah, for sure.  We beat two top teams we really needed to beat in Mac Irvin Fire and Belmont Shore.  That was a real confidence booster for us.  Unfortunately we couldn’t take it all, but it helped a lot.

BDN:  Yeah.  And just having that kind of experience, I would think, against top teams all weekend had to be good for your confidence and just for feeling good about where you’re at.

MT: For sure. We were coming off some tough losses.  The week previous we lost to Mac Irvin by like 20.  They mercy-ruled us.  (laughs)  Just being able to come out there and make a statement like that, it was really helpful for us.

BDN: What else do you have left for the summer, or are you done?

MT: I’m going to go to the Elite 24 in Brooklyn, and I’m still debating on whether I’m going to do the Big Strick Classic or not.  It looks like I’m not, but I’m still looking at that one.

BDN: ‘Cause you guys all seem like you’re — it’s been a long summer.

MT: Oh my gosh.  I’ve been in hotel beds more than my own bed. (laughs)

BDN: And you guys are young and this travel schedule is just killer.

MT: Yeah, it is. But I think it’s good in a sense ‘cause it gets you ready for the next level –

BDN: True.

MT: — if you’re going to the NBA, stuff like that.

BDN: So what do you think you need to work on in the coming season?  You said you need to work on back-to-the-basket.  That’ll come with some weight and some skill work.  What else?

MT: That’s the biggest thing right now.  Maybe a little bit of ballhandling.  My high school team is not very strong right now.  If I need to bring the ball upcourt sometimes –

BDN: You’re 6’11” man!  – 

MT: (laughs) I know.  I know.  But if they’re getting trapped hard, ‘cause our guards are little, so . . .

BDN: You do what you’ve got to do?

MT: Exactly.  Exactly.

BDN: Any additional skills you develop, you figure can only help down the line?

MT: Exactly.  I agree.

BDN:  OK.  Now, I know you’ve got an official set for Kansas in October, right?

MT: Yes.

BDN: Do you have any other official or unofficial visits set?

MT: To this point, no.  I’m probably going to plan some unofficials.  Kansas was a campus and a program that I really wanted to see, so that’s why I planned that one immediately.

BDN: OK.  Who else has been recruiting you the hardest?

MT: Duke has been recruiting me pretty hard.  Texas, Baylor, really all the Big 12 Conference, ‘cause you know, it’s close to home.

BDN: Are you going to feel any kind of pressure to stay close to home, because that’s where you’re from and you’ve got a lot of – you know, there’s family, friends, etc.?  Or are you going to be open to anywhere that feels like the right fit for you?

MT: I’m probably going to be open to anywhere.  My family understands that I really need to go develop myself, and whatever’s going to be the best fit for me, they’re gonna —  and I think it’d be a little bit heartbreaking to move far away from home, but really where I feel is the best decision to go, that’s where I’m going to go.

BDN: Who would you say has been your most regular contact from the Duke program?

MT: Coach Nate James.

BDN: Coach James, OK.  How often are you guys in contact?

MT: He’s in contact with my parents a lot.  He talks to me, he understands that I’m going through a lot right now, so he really talks to my parents a lot.

BDN: OK.  And what about Coach K?  Is there regular contact with him too, or is it just Coach James pretty much?

MT: Coach K sends me a text every now and then, telling me, you know, he’s proud of me, “good job at what you’re doing,” stuff like that.

BDN: I read somewhere that you described him as “down to earth” and “cool.”

MT: Yeah. (laughs)

BDN: What do you mean by that?

MT: I guess in the sense that he really knows what he’s doing.  And he knows how to deliver the message that he wants to deliver.  He’s really straightforward with everything, but he doesn’t, like, in a sense, bring you down.  He’s really – I just really like the kind of guy he is, really.

BDN: How do you think that differentiates him, if it does, from other coaches who have come at you with different ways?

MT: I think the biggest difference between him and other coaches Is just the amount of success he’s had.  There’s a lot of coaches that have had success, like Larry Brown, Coach Calipari, but just the overall success he’s had and how he does it on a continuous basis, that’s really what –

BDN: With different styles of play and different types of players he can incorporate – that’s what a lot of guys have said.  What do you think about that?

MT: I think it’s pretty accurate.  I would say so.  When you have people like Mason Plumlee coming in, or Seth Curry, they’re able to go in there and just play their game, and not differentiate.

BDN: All right.  I also read – ‘cause I did a little bit of homework on you – you’re a bowler.

MT:   (laughs) Yeah.  Yes, sir.

BDN: Now, what I want to know is: you must have your own bowling shoes, ‘cause those size 21’s – you can’t rent a pair of those at the bowling alley, can you?

MT: (laughs) No, not at all.  Usually they let me go, and wear my own shoes, that’s what it is.  Bowling is more of a hobby than something I do professionally –

BDN: I know.  I’m just clowning on you –

MT: (laughs) I know.  But if I ever come into some money, that’d be my first investment!

BDN: I got a feeling that down the road you’ll probably come into some money if you continue to improve like you have.  When are you thinking in terms of cutting down the list further from 25?

MT: Definitely after this event.  Me and my dad, on the airplane, just cut it down from there.

BDN: Sounds good.  It’s really been a pleasure to meet you and to watch you play this weekend.  Best of luck to you.

MT: Thank you.

[Note: Myles was as good as his word, as within days of this interview he indeed cut his list to eight schools. Duke is on that list.]

 

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Myles Turner AdidasNations

 

Justise Winslow
Adidas Nations 8/4/13
Garden Grove, CA

Seven Good Minutes With Justise Winslow

Justise Winslow Adidas Nations 8/4/13 Garden Grove, CA
Justise Winslow
Adidas Nations 8/4/13
Garden Grove, CA

Coach K had a memorable quote a few years back when he was asked what position Kyle Singler played, at a time Kyle was being moved around all over the court to shore up some areas in which the Blue Devils needed some help.  K’s response: “What position does he play?  He plays winner.”

Same deal with key 2014 recruit Justise Winslow, the 6’6″ lefty out of Houston.  This guy really does it all.  I liken him not only to Singler, but also to Grant Hill in terms of the “queen on the chessboard” qualities that he brings to a team.

The first thing you notice about him is the rock-solid body, the body of a pro.  He can play inside or out; he makes the midrange jumper, and even steps out a little further on occasion.  He can drive the ball to the hoop; he is very, very good in transition, and he hits the boards hard at both ends.  He is an outstanding passer.  And he can D it up against just about anybody.  I’ve seen him play a number of times now, and seen him shut down everyone from point guards to power forwards and everyone else in between.

One thing I love about Winslow’s game is that while he can get buckets if he needs to or wants to, he doesn’t seem to need to be the leading scorer on his team every time out.  No, what he gives the team is whatever it happens to need at any given moment.  Guys like that help teams win championships.  He could probably lead any team he wanted to in scoring, but he doesn’t seem to have an ego that requires him to be the #1 scoring star.  He knows that he can do it all on an as-needed basis; coaches know it; and everyone knows that translates into winning.  He’s not as flashy as some other guys out there, but he’s a guy you win with, and he would be a huge asset to the Blue Devils should he pull the trigger for Duke.  Here’s what Justise had to say last weekend at the Adidas Nations event about his recruitment, what he’ll be considering, his experience with Team USA this summer, and other issues.

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BDN: All right, I’m here at the Adidas Nations with Justise Winslow. They just won the semifinal game, heading for the finals tomorrow. Justise, it’s been a long summer. You must be tired.

JW: Yeah.

BDN: I get the feeling a lot of you guys out here are tired after the summer, yes?

JW: Yes. I mean, I’ve been on the road a lot. Overseas with the United States U-19 and the Peach Jam and all that stuff. But it’s been great. It’s been a great summer. It’s been fun. I just enjoy basketball, so it’s taken me a lot of places. It’s winding down, my last summer, but I’m enjoying it.

BDN: I’m going to ask you about Team USA in a minute, but where else have you been, what else have you done over the summer? Where have you been?

JW: Well, we had the tryouts in Colorado Springs. We had some exhibition games in D.C. and then we went to Prague. That was the USA stuff. And then after that I had Peach Jam in Augusta, Vegas and Orlando, and now I’m here. So I’ve been pretty busy.

BDN: How did it feel to put on that red, white and blue with “USA” on your chest?

JW: It’s a great feeling. Coaches always preach to play for the three letters on the front and not the name on the back. So that’s what we tried to do. Everybody had the goal to get the gold, so we went out there, we competed, we listened to our coaches. We just played with a lot of energy and intensity and we got the gold.

BDN: Let me ask you something. What do you think you brought to the table that got you, as one of three high schoolers selected to that team over some very good and experienced college players that were available? What do you think the coaches saw in you that they wanted you on that particular team?

JW: Just my versatility. I can score, rebound, defend. With my athleticism and size I can guard one through four internationally if we go small. So that was something they saw. That I brought something unique to the team. And I think those are a couple of reasons why I was selected.

BDN: That makes sense. You must be so tired of talking recruiting and lists and cutdowns and all that kind of stuff with everybody coming at you. So I’m going to try to keep that part of it quick. Can you just review for our readers – I know you cut the list down – can you review for us what it is?

JW: Right now it’s Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford. Just going east to west.

BDN: Can you tell us if you’re going to cut it down further, or are you just going to make a call from that list?

JW: I’ll probably have to cut it down further, ‘cause I’m looking to take officials. But at this point I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m just trying to finish Adidas Nations and then take a couple weeks off, think about things before my last event at the Elite 24, but after Adidas Nations I’ll think about dates and things like that.

BDN: OK so you don’t have any dates for cutting down or for decisionmaking at this point?

JW: No.

BDN: OK. When it comes down to it, what are going to be the biggest factors for you when actually have to sit down and say ‘I have to make this decision’? What are you going to be weighing in your mind the most?

JW: Just overall comfortability, whether it’s comfort with the coaches and the players or comfortable with the campus life and just comfortable with the school overall and the student body and things like that. Just being comfortable so my family feels comfortable sending me off with people they can trust.

BDN: You know, it’s going to be a hard decision. I would imagine that some factors are in favor of this school, some factors are in favor of that school. Can you give us any kind of a window into how you think about it? Like, “well, when I think about this factor, you know, that factor favors Kansas. This factor favors Duke. This factor might favor Florida.” That kind of thing. Can you give us any kind of indication about how it is that you process that?

JW: The decision’s going to be tough, because every school has its pro’s and con’s. Some schools are better than others at certain things –

BDN: I guess that’s what I’m asking you. Can you give us some examples of “well, I like this about this school and I like that about that school?”

JW: I mean, every school has something unique about them. Whether it’s just Texas A&M, it’s just close to home. That’s something simple, but — staying close to home isn’t that important to me, but if I did go to Texas A&M that would be great ‘cause it’s close to home. Little things like that that make each school unique is what makes the decisionmaking so hard.

BDN: If you were to compare – and I know you’ve got a longer list than this – but let’s say someone said to you, “Give me your pluses and minuses on Duke and Arizona.” Just for an example. How would you answer that?

JW: That’s a tough question, because both schools have had a lot of recent success in the NCAA Tourney, both schools have produced pro’s, have All-Americans, good academics. But it’s just different. The Duke brand, they have a lot of prestige and tradition there, but Arizona is more of a recent success with I think it was the championship in ’01, I think maybe, or around that time, so the schools are just different. But they both have their pro’s and con’s.

BDN: Do you feel like you pretty much in your mind have the information you need to make this decision, or is there still more information you’re gathering?

JW: I mean, if I had all the information, or if I knew what I wanted to do, I would have committed by now. There’s just some things I’m still looking at and that’s why I’m not committed.

BDN: Alright. Tell me a little bit about the contacts you have with Duke. How often are you in contact with the staff?

JW: Probably daily, every other day, things like that.

BDN: Who has your main contact been?

JW: K — Capel, Wojo. I mean, but it’s like that with every school.

BDN: OK, so all of them are in contact with you?

JW: Yeah.

BDN: Last thing I’m going to ask you. Of course, who knows what you’re going to do? But if you were to find yourself at Duke, what kind of role do you think you would play in the Duke scheme of things?

JW: You know, I think I can do it all. I think I can have the ball in my hands. They have a point guard but I can make plays, I can rebound, defend. I think Coach could kind of use me the same way he used LeBron and K.D. with the national team, just playing them everywhere –

BDN: Jack of all trades?

JW: Yeah. Just letting them do their thing.

BDN: Sounds good to me. Listen, I wish you nothing but the best. I know everybody’s coming at you. I’m going to stop here and just wish you good luck, and peace, and I’m sure you’ll make a good decision. Thank you for taking the time.

JW: Thank you.

 

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Winslow Adidas Nations

 

Jahlil Okafor
Adidas Nations 8/3/13
Garden Grove, CA

Getting Down To It with Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor Adidas Nations 8/3/13 Garden Grove, CA
Jahlil Okafor
Adidas Nations 8/3/13
Garden Grove, CA

Everyone knows that Jahlil Okafor is an extremely high priority recruit for the Blue Devils, and his performance this past weekend at the Adidas Nations camp showed why.  If you’ve never seen him play before, the big man from Chicago really brings to the table everything you’d want in a low-post, power player.  He’s 6’10″-6’11″ and a very solid 270 pounds or so, with round shoulders, thick legs, and a solid backside.  But he’s very, very agile as well for a man his size.  He is nimble around the rim when the situation calls for it, he runs the floor very well, and he can handle the ball skillfully for a big guy.  One big thing I like about him is that he knows he’s an inside power player, and so you don’t see him jacking up 20 footers.  He doesn’t want to be Kevin Durant.  Defensively, he challenges a lot of shots, he talks well, and he’s just a presence in there.  There were a few scouts who said they thought he should be more consistently dominant, that he should take better advantage of his size, that he needs to bring greater energy every time out, but I frankly didn’t see that at all, and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem going forward for Jahlil or for whatever program is lucky enough to welcome him.

The kid has excellent body language too.  Both on and off the floor he’s upbeat, positive, and likable.  The other guys clearly like playing with him.  Jahlil is very personable, he looks you in the eye during conversation — just an excellent young man in all respects.

Here’s what Jahlil had to say this weekend about his experience with USA Basketball this summer, the state of his recruitment, the manner in which Duke is recruiting him, how many people’s perceptions of Coach K are simply wrong, and a number of other topics.

[private]
BDN: All right. I’m at the Adidas Nations event with Jahlil Okafor, who just finished up a pretty nice win, I guess you guys would have to say. How has the event been for you so far?

JO: It’s been a lot of fun. I love coming down to Adidas Nations, you know, it’s a lot of fun playing with guys like Jaquan Lyle, Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow, you know some of these guys it’s my first time playing with them. Kavon Looney and all these guys, so it’s a lot of fun playing against different competition and different styles of play, so I’m really enjoying myself.

BDN: That was one of the questions I was going to ask you. It must be a different kind of experience for you to play with some of these guys that you’ve been playing against all summer in AAU.

JO: Yeah, definitely. I am coming off the USA Basketball thing, so that’s where I played with Justise Winslow before, but I played with Stanley Johnson last year with USA Basketball, but this is my first time playing with him all summer, and it’s my first time ever playing with Kavon Looney. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying myself.

BDN: Obviously everybody in the Duke world is watching pretty closely what you’re doing and you and Tyus and everything. It’s easy to lump you two guys together, but it’s probably a little bit unfair because each of you is your own person. What are you thinking in terms of visits? I know you have one planned to Baylor. What about beyond that?

JO: We’ve talked about it. We don’t have any set dates yet. But I’m sure we’ll take a couple more together. [Note: this interview was conducted three days ago. Today Jahlil announced he'll be taking an official visit to Kentucky on September 9]

BDN: You mentioned your experience with Team USA. Tell me a little about what that was like to put USA on the front of your jersey again on your chest.

JO: That was amazing. It’s an experience like no other. This was my third time playing, but with the 19-and-under level I was playing up a few years older, playing with a bunch of college guys. In the past 26 years they only won two gold medals for the 19-and-unders so there was a lot of pressure on us. USA Basketball called upon us and told us it was a really big deal if we win or not. It was an experience like no other to talk to George Raveling, who is a bigtime college coach and he’s big in international basketball, and –

BDN: What about the sense of pride you must have had putting – and I know you’ve done it before – but putting on that red, white and blue jersey?

JO: Definitely. That’s something we talked about. We talked about how the teams before us came down here and lost. We’re walking around with our heads high. If we would’ve lost, it’s not the same. So we definitely had a lot of pride and we didn’t want anybody to beat us.

BDN: What kind of differences were there with the international game versus the American game that you’re used to?

JO: I think I thrive in the international game. Mainly due to being in a set system with Billy Donovan and Shaka Smart and Tony Bennett, so I think that really helped me thrive. And also I had really great players on my team like Montrezl Harrell, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Rasheed Sulaimon. So they weren’t really able to doubleteam me, and I really thrived in international play.

BDN: It’s kind of an interesting stage now of recruitment. The AAU season is done. What do the next couple of months hold for you? What are you going to be doing?

JO: After this I pretty much am going to be winding it down. I may do the Elite 24 –

BDN: All you guys must be tired.

JO: Yeah, I’m exhausted. But I wouldn’t want to mess with these relationships for anything. I love coming here. But after this I’ll get ready for my senior season. I’m looking to commit before my senior season kicks off. I really don’t want to drag it on and just have everybody waiting and just put that stress on myself and my family. So I would like to commit before my season starts.

BDN: It’s funny. Some guys like to kind of extend it as far as they can. Others want to get it over with. You’re in the – kind of make your call and –

JO: Yeah, definitely. If I know where I want to go, I’ll just want to get it out of the way. I don’t want to have everybody waiting and everywhere I go asking me where am I going. I’ll just want to get it over with and enjoy my last year.

BDN: Do you feel like there’s more information about the schools that you’re considering that you still don’t have, or do you feel like you have the information you need, and you just need to make the call?

JO: I think the main thing I have to do is get down on campus. That’s when I can make my call. That’s why I’m really looking forward to my official visits. I get down to campus, get a chance to talk to the players, pick their brains, hang out with them, see how they interact with the coaches. That’s what I’ll learn.

BDN: How much contact are you in with the coaching staff at Duke?

JO: I talk to them four to five times a week. Coach Capel, Coach Wojo, Coach K calls me once a week. I might get a text from him maybe two times a week. You know, when a guy like Coach K calls you to check up on you, it’s got to make yourself feel kind of good.

BDN: Kind of gets your attention?

JO: Yes.

BDN: You have a good relationship with him?

JO: Yeah, I have a great relationship with Coach K.

BDN: What’s your impression about the kind of guy that he is, the kind of coach that he is?

JO: He’s a great guy. Everybody thinks he’s – a lot of guys have an attitude about Duke. They’re like, “Do you ever talk to Coach K?” And they always say that their impression of Duke is that he’ll just have their assistants talk to them ‘cause he’s so bigtime. But he’s not like that at all. He calls you, he texts you, he recruits you just like anybody else, like any other coach. Coach K is a great guy. A lot of people get the impression that he’s really serious but he’s hilarious. He’s really funny. I love Coach K.

BDN: You know, you’re not the only person that’s told me that. A lot of other guys have said the same thing. He’s a funny guy –

JO: A jokester. (laughs)

BDN: And he makes you know that he actually cares about you as a person.

JO: Definitely. He really makes you feel like he cares about you.

BDN: All right, listen. I know you’ve got places to go. Your knees alright? I see you’re icing your knees?

JO: Yeah, I’m icing just, just because.

BDN: You do that all the time or –

JO: When I can.

BDN: I really appreciate it.

JO: No problem at all.

BDN: And I wish you nothing but the best with your decision.

JO: Thank you. I appreciate it.

 

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Jamison Crowder 8-5-13

Coach Cutcliffe and players review Duke’s first practice of 2013 camp

DURHAM – The Blue Devils hit the field Monday night for the first practice of 2013 training camp. Both players and coaches were excited to be back on the gridiron as they prepare for the season opener against NCCU on August 31. They practiced with a quick tempo and a sense of purpose, and several newcomers flashed their speed and athleticism. BDN was on hand for the reaction from Coach Cutcliffe, along with veteran star WR Jamison Crowder and LB Kelby Brown.

Kavon Looney
Long Beach, CA 8/4/13

Big-Time Forward Kevon Looney Chats with BDN from Adidas Nations

Kavon Looney Long Beach, CA 8/4/13
Kevon Looney
Long Beach, CA 8/4/13

Kevon Looney, the 6’9″ forward on everyone’s Top 10 list for the Class of 2014, was part of a super team this weekend at the Adidas Nations camp in Long Beach, CA, where he joined fellow Duke recruits Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow to dominate the tournament.  For those of you who have not seen Looney play, he is a unique talent.  He is long, very athletic, and plays above the rim.  He can shoot it and takes it strong to the hole.  Defensively, he has excellent instincts, blocking shots you think he has no chance to get to.  But the quality that really stands out for me is his motor.  The kid is just relentless, as he pounds the boards at both ends with passion.  He is unselfish as well, and fits in beautifully with the team concept, despite the fact that, if he wanted to, he could take over pretty much any game he plays in.  I have a hard time coming up with a similar Duke player in the Coach K era.  He would be a terrific get for the Blue Devils.

Kevon is down to six schools, and he updates BDN on his summer, his plans going forward, and where he is in the recruiting process.

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BDN: All right. I’m at the Adidas Nations event with Kevon Looney. First of all, Kevon, all of our fans want to make sure we’re pronouncing your first name right. Some people have said “Kevin,” “Kay-VON,” or “KAY-von.”

KL: It’s “Keh-VON.”

BDN: “Keh-VON” OK, that’s what I thought. First thing I wanted to ask you, with your AAU team not being a Nike circuit team all summer, it had to be good at an event like this to get a chance to play with some of these guys and against some of them that you haven’t had a chance to over the summer.

KL: Yes, it’s been a great experience. I got to play against them in June, at some of the camps like LeBron, that’s in July, but it’s a great experience playing with these guys. Lot of fun.

BDN: It’s been a pretty long summer.

KL: Yes.

BDN: Are you pretty much done after this weekend or you have some other places you’re going to be playing before taking a break with school starting?

KL: I’m pretty much done now. After this, I’m going to go home, relax, and get back into the weight room.

BDN: You looking to put on some weight?

KL: Yes.

BDN: What are you at now?

KL: 210.

BDN: What are you trying to get up to?

KL: I’m not sure. As big as possible I guess, I don’t know. (laughs)

BDN: As long as it’s good weight.

KL: Yes, yes.

BDN: OK. What are you going to work on on the floor in the coming high school season?

KL: I’m gonna continue to try to get in the best shape of my life. I’m gonna continue to work on my shooting and ballhandling.

BDN: I know you recently cut your list down to six.

KL: Yes.

BDN: Are you planning on making further cuts, or you think you’re just going to make the decision out of these six?

KL: I’ll make the decision out of these six.

BDN: OK. One thing I wanted to ask you is, even though we cover Duke Basketball primarily, still we’re interested in other teams too. One of the things that some people are wondering, because a lot of people assumed – and maybe they assumed wrong, I don’t know – was that Michigan was going to be high up on your list. They didn’t make your final six. Why?

KL: When we sat down, me and my parents felt that – and I had a good relationship with Michigan and Beilein – my parents had the same relationship. So, but the other six we had a better relationship, so I picked those.

BDN: OK. Do you feel like, out of these six that you’re going to be making your decision from, that you pretty much have all the information you need, or do you feel like there’s still more that you need to learn about one or two or all six of them?

KL: I know a lot about these programs. I just want to see the campuses.

BDN: That’s a big thing –

KL: That’s a big thing. I want to see the college atmosphere, and what’s going to be the best fit for me.

BDN: Have you been to any of the six, or some of them?

KL: I’ve been to Tennessee, Wisconsin, and a little bit of UCLA.

BDN: Are you planning on making visits to the other three then?

KL: I’m making officials to five. Wisconsin, I’m making an unofficial.

BDN: But the other five you’re going to make officials?

KL: Yes.

BDN: Have you scheduled those yet?

KL: Not yet. When I get back home, we’re going to start scheduling.

BDN: You’ve got a lot on your plate, man.

KL: Yes. (laughs)

BDN: As far as Duke goes, who’s been your main contact in terms of the coaching staff?

KL: It was Nate James, but recently all of them have been calling me. Wojo, Capel, and Nate James – the main three.

BDN: What about Coach K? Are you in contact with him directly?

KL: Yes. He calls me. He checks in every couple of weeks, gives me a phone call.

BDN: What kind of relationship do you have with the Coach?

KL: It’s a great relationship. He’s a cool guy. I know he’s busy, but he comes to my games, which I like. He stays in contact.

BDN: It seems to a lot of you guys that it really does matter them showing up and actually being there for the games?

KL: Yes. It’s very important. We want to feel important. You talk to them, they tell you all the good stuff about you. But you still want to see them at the games.

BDN: It’s got to feel good.

KL: Yes.

BDN: Now, out here, you’ve had the chance to play on the same team with Jahlil and Justise. Obviously, you know Duke is on both of their lists as well. How do you feel like you fit in on the court with those two guys?

KL: I think I fit in well. Jahlil is a great post presence. Justise can bring the ball up, he can play everything one through three. I feel like I can play the three and the four, and some of the two.

BDN: You guys have got a lot of flexibility there with that team.

KL: Yes.

BDN: Coming down to it, what do you think are going to be the biggest factors really when you have to make the call between the six?

KL: Really, the relationship I feel with the coaches. And the atmosphere of the school.

BDN: And do you feel like you have any kind of timeline for when you’re going to make the call?

KL: I’m going to make my decision before my high school season starts. It starts in November, so probably October.

BDN: That’s coming up.

KL: Yes, real soon.

BDN: Is the timing of what Jahlil and Tyus do going to have any impact on you, or are you going to make your decision when you’re ready?

KL: I’ll make my decision when I’m ready.

BDN: Thanks so much for your time Kevon. Good luck to you.

KL: Thank you very much.

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