Category Archives: Duke Basketball Recruiting News


Signing Period Gold For Duke

Tatum and Giles

The Duke Blue Devils 2015-16 basketball campaign has yet to start.  Despite that fact, it's hard not to look beyond this season if only for today.  The reason being that once again the Blue Devils find themselves with another banner recruiting class.  The consensus number one class in the nation will arrive on the Duke campus in July of 2016.  Between now and then, there will be plenty of speculation for as many around the program exclaim,  "Duke Basketball Never Stops."

Jayson Tatum was right at home with the Cameron Crazies during his recent visit.
Jayson Tatum was right at home with the Cameron Crazies during his recent visit.

Jayson Tatum 6-8, 205, Chaminade Prep, St. Louis, Missouri - Jayson Tatum announced his collegiate intentions on July 12, 2015 where he was the first player to commit to Duke  in the Class of 2016.  The St. Louis native chose Duke over Kentucky, North Carolina and St. Louis.  Tatum is as good a small forward prospect as there has been in recent years.  He can pretty much do it all from said position and he always plays with savvy and control.  It's rare to see a super star prospect allow the game to come to him, yet Tatum can do this or be an aggressive player.  Quite simply, Tatum is a can't miss prospect who will most certainly play in the NBA.  It is worth noting that Tatum has extensive USA Basketball program experience and that he is friends and a former teammate of Harry Giles III.  The chemistry between these two stand out players should be evident early on at Duke, as was last seasons class where Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winlsow were in a similar situation.  Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tatum has nothing to do with his basketball skills.  Like many Duke entries, Tatum has immense character and is faith-based in his thoughts and decisions.  While talking with Tatum during this past seasons Nike EYBL Finals it was clear to me that Tatum knew where he wanted to go to school where he seemed tired of the recruiting process.  The next day with the Duke staff in place, Tatum chose the Blue Devils on ESPNU during the championship game.  The signing of one of the nations elite players set the table for what was to come.  Tatum is silky smooth on the court and in some respects has some throw back skills that differentiates his game from others.  That allowed the young man to separate from the pack in the rankings as he progressed.

1590490Frank Jackson 6-3, 195 - Lone Peak HS, Alpine Utah - Duke has a history of recruiting solid backcourt players under Mike Kryzewski and Frank Jackson fits that mode.  Jackson gave Duke his verbal commitment on September 1, 2015 where he chose the Blue Devils over Arizona, UCLA and Utah,  Many thought early on that Jackson would remain on the west coast but the chance to play for one of the countries red-hot programs helped the versatile star come East.  Jackson has a game face.  What I mean by that is when the ball is tipped you see his usual wide smile go away while noticing a controlled intensity to his game.  Jackson is a scorer plain and simple, but he's also more than that.  Jackson handles the ball well and is capable of running the point or the shooting guard position.  Of course, Mike Krzyzewski will quickly tell you he has only players at Duke and no labels with concern to traditional posiitions.  That will work to Jackson's benefit while in Durham as will his ability to get up in his opponents face on defense.  Jackson most recently attended the USA Junior Mini Camp where he showed why he is one of the nations highest ranked prospects.  The best way to describe Jackson is that he is a smooth operator on the court where he can weave through traffic or drain the outside shot.

Javin DeLaurier left, gave Duke a verbal after his recent visit.
Javin DeLaurier left, gave Duke a verbal after his recent visit.

Javin DeLaurier 6-9, 210 Saint Annes-Bellfield HS, Shipman, Va - The third prospect to commit to Duke was Javin DeLauriuer on September the 27, 2015.  DeLaurier chose Duke over the likes of Arizona, Louisville, North Carolina and Texas to mention just a few of his many offers the young man had garnered.  DeLaurier is listed as a power forward and he recently visited Duke where he loved the atmosphere on and off the court.  There is nothing more exciting than to get a player who knows where he wants to play his college basketball and one whom selects the Blue Devils with certainty.  DeLaurier is a player who continued to get better on the Adidas circuit where he blossomed in the Spring of this past year.  A solid post presence would best described the balanced player who can score and rebound.  One of the key factors in landing DeLaurier in Durham was his relationship with Duke Assistant Coach Nate James which has earned the staff praise from the Virginia native.  Duke fans will like what they see in DeLaurier as he is a high energy player who never and I mean never takes plays off.  It is also worth noting that like other prospects in the fold, DeLaurier immediately became a recruiter of other talent soon to arrive, namely Harry Giles.

HarryGilesHarry Giles 6-9, 230 Oak Hill Academy, From Winston Salem - Giles committed to Duke on November 6, 2015 to the delight of the vast Blue Devil Nation.   With the addition of the nation's top prospect, the Duke class became the best in America.  Giles is another sure-fire future NBA player, yet he remains grounded.  Giles can be a beast on the court where he continues to grow into an impressive frame.  I suppose we should start with his recent and unfortunate injury to his ACL which will be a set back for sure.  But this is not the first time the future star has been injured and he is more than aware of the work ahead to achieve his dreams.  Giles ultimately chose Duke over Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.  He always liked Duke due to relationships with the staff that were in place since his sophomore season.  The consistency in which Duke recruited him won out in the end as did his close relationship with Jayson Tatum.  As impressive as Giles is when not on the court, his game is just flat-out awesome.  He can control a game and intimidate his opponents with an unrivaled skill set.  Duke will bring Giles along slowly but there is perhaps no better situation for him with concern to his rehabilitation.  It will be interesting to see how Duke uses Giles upon his return where he will indeed be a center piece in their future plans.

The potential cohesiveness - What Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is getting on signing day is a major influx of talent.  Duke can literally pencil in three of the young men on the front court if need be while allowing Frank Jackson to orchestrate the team.  Of course, Duke has plenty of talent already in place and with that said the future requires some serious UV blocking sun glasses.  All in all, the four prospects are a cohesive fit.

Worth noting - Duke is still recruiting Marques Bolden, a true post presence.  The staff made the Texas native a priority during the Nike EYBL Finals.  Only time will tell how things go with Bolden who is one of the top players left on the board who has yet to commit.


A Tremendous Staff Helps Duke Recruiting

Duke and Capel are part of a family atmosphere culture at Duke

There is no doubt that Coach Mike Krzyzewski brings fire to recruiting, but it also takes an assist from a cool customer.  Enter Duke Associate Head Coach Jeff Capel.  The two coaches bring fire and ice to on the recruiting trail.

While Coach Krzyzewski oozes with hot intensity with his love for the game and coaching  passion, Capel adds a cool approach which translated into solid relationships with key prospects.

"Jeff built a great relationship with Harry and that was key," Oak Hill assistant coach Cory Alexander said after today's Harry Giles to Duke announcement on ESPN.

Capel is no stranger to recruiting battles and he played a key role in landing many of the current players not to mention those departed more recently top the NBA.  In fact he beat out his college coach for the services of Blake Griffin who now stars with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Duke has now gained the service of the last two seasons consensus top rated players in the county.  They had the top recruiting class a season ago and are there again this season.

The Blue Devils have secured the services of Harry Giles and one of his closest friends in Jayson Tatum.  And the two played together with USA Basketball where current Duke guard Derryck Thornton distributing the ball to them on many occasions.

The nation saw what continuity even amongst young players could do last season where the Blue Devils claimed their fifth National Championship banner under Krzyzewski.

Also coming is a steady scoring prospect who is also a hard-nosed defender named  Frank Jackson.  He will be joined by Javin DeLaurier a top rated power forward giving Duke quite a class to work with in the future.  And the staff is not finished.

Duke is still recruiting a big time center prospect out of Texas in Marques Bolden.  The Blue Devils chief competition may come from Kansas and Kentucky but a who's who of top rated schools are pursuing the post player with tremendous potential.  It is also worth mentioning that during the recent Nike EYBL Finals, that they made Bolden a recruiting priority.

coach-Nate-300x224The Blue Devils have two other solid assistant coaches as well on the recruiting trail.  One is a former player in Nate James known for his no nonsense toughness and desire.  And then there is Jon Scheyer who is mature beyond his years now after joining the staff after and eye injury derailed his playing career.

In Scheyer, the players can relate to a guy that was just on the court a few years ago.  Meanwhile, James can share many of his numerous experiences which include bringing the team together after a mass defection of talent to the league during his final season at Duke.  Let me also mention that both of these coaches hold National Championship rings.

senior-scheyer-300x225Young men know that one of the best places to grow as a man and learn the game is under Coach Mike Krzzyewski and his talented staff in Durham.  They can point to all kinds of success while offering a top notch education to their four year players.  Grand NBA type of facilities, educational support and a family atmosphere for life awaits those who will buy into what the program is doing.

It would be hard to argue with the current success on the recruiting trail that anybody other than Duke has the best staff in the country. This luxury along with changing with the times has allowed Krzyzewski and his staff to be in the most enviable position in all of college basketball at this present time.

Any time you have staff continuity and character in your coaches, it translates well on the recruiting trail.  What fans and the on-looking many are currently seeing is the Zenith of the program.  In short, things couldn't go much better.

The good news for Duke fans and bad news for the rest of the nation is that there is no immediate end in sight.  Duke has already establish a base wish list for the season after Giles and company come to Duke.

I have never been one to talk about who might replace Mike Krzyzewski.  At this rate we will see the coach at Duke for years to come provided those around him remain supportive and healthy.  When a man does what he has great passion for, things more or less take care of themselves.

The next few years will be a fun time for the fan base and this is a testament to the Herculean effort that the Duke staff is putting in on the recruiting circuit.



A Relationship Landed Harry Giles at Duke

HarryGilesIt was a rainy, overcast day in Hampton, Virginia in the year of 2012.  Cars were parked everywhere as practically every collegiate coach in America and their assistants were streaming into the Boo Williams  Activity Center.  Inside, the first major event of the recruiting season was about to start.

The facility houses no less than eight basketball courts where the nations best players all descend in an effort to impress coaches.  On the farthest court hidden by curtains there was an under sixteen team taking the court from High Point, North Carolina known as CP-3, named after Chris Paul, the current star guard for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Warming up was a tall, long and lean young man wearing a knee brace that towered over most of the players on the court.  A youngster at the time, Harry Giles III stood out even then and for good reason.  Giles was ranked highly in the various prospect ratings, yet the gym was empty of spectators except for one.

The only coach in the gym was Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.  He sat by himself in a chair on the far end of the court with nary an assistant or any other coach around.  In the back drop, one could hear raucous cheering from the other courts that were packed with spectators for other games. The curtains that separated the courts almost made it seem as this game was in some kind of alternate universe which gave the feeling of a personal level experience.

I took a seat waiting for the crowds to filter over for the early morning game, but it never happened.  Only Mike Krzyzewski watched on for the entire game as Harry Giles was coming back from a torn MCL and ACL injury.  As I look back on the experience, it is clear to me that this was the infancy of a great relationship forming between the Duke coach and the talented, can't miss prospect.

Fast forward to Giles rising junior season and  found myself in North Augusta for the Nike Peach Jam which was then starting to alter its name toward Nike EYBL.  I was seated near Mike Krzyzewski as he watched the contest.  Surrounding him was a who's who of college basketball coaches which included every coach you can name from the top programs in the land.

The gym was packed out as usual where the ushers were only letting certain people in due to the fire code.  You could see a tall young man coming in wading through the standing room only crowd.  It was Harry Giles and the highly rated prospect commands attention when he is around for he is that talented a player.

Within seconds after Giles found a spot to stand, he pointed towards all the coaches across the way where there was not one empty seat.  He pointed out Mike Krzyzewski, uttering the words, "There's coach," to his friend.  Of all the stellar coaches in the gym which includes all on the list of what became his final four teams on decision day, he immediately recognized and acknowledged Coach K.

It was clear to me by then that quite the relationship had been formed between Harry Giles and Mike Krzyzewski.  No matter the event, Krzyzewski was always front and center for Giles games save a few circumstances a year later when Nike scheduled conflicting games with Giles and CP3's games with the St. Louis Eagles and Jayson Tatums games.   In short when other programs sometimes had their lead assistants there to watch the high school super star, Krzyzewski was all in and present early on.

I am not privy to all the details of the relationship formed between Harry Giles and Mike Krzyzewski but I can tell you that it is a special one.  And this is the main reason Giles selected Duke as his college destination today.

It all made sense in the end.  Giles will likely be one and done and nobody is working that better than Krzyzewski who sent three freshman this past season to the NBA.  And this of course was after a national championship.  Giles is also close to Jayson Tatum and the duo working together will be a sight to see for Blue Devils fans.

Let's flash back to the Nike EYBL Peach Jam this past season to see what type of young man Duke is getting in Harry Giles.  This is the second of the Nike Finals events I am speaking to with concern to Giles.

The young Winston Salem product was now the main event.  The gyms filled up to capacity with folks five deep up top hanging over rafters to catch a view.  The ushers sat up a string of seats court side for the Giles family I will now refer to as Team Giles.  With his family near by and adoring fans in droves, it was clear Harry Giles was in his element in the spot light.

Not one game in which Giles played in was there a seat to be found.  It had all come full circle for Giles who seemed to realize the moment and the hard work it took to get there.  A thunder dunk here a pull up jumper there, the crowd roared their approval as folks begged ushers and security  guards at the doors to let them squeeze in.

One would expect such adoration might bloat a young mans head.  Trust me, I have seen more than my share of prima donnas covering the AAU circuit and Duke beat over the years.  That wasn't the case with Harry Giles III.

Everybody wanted a piece of Harry.  And there he stood after the game posing with fans for photos and signing multiple autographs.  Giles just wouldn't say no to a soul on that sweltering evening in North Augusta, South Carolina. As I stood there hoping to get a few quotes and after several interruptions it became clear to me that this was his time.  With that said, I backed off giving him his space and just watched as the fans kept coming.

I was walking out of the gym when I realized that the adoration had died down after about twenty five minutes later and there was Harry Giles ready to talk.  That's the kind of guy Harry Giles is folks.   Instead of being ushered off via security, he greeted each fan with equal enthusiasm and still sought me out once the glee-fest subsided.

Giles is a special talent.  He can pretty much do all.  His body continues to mature as he grows into his frame.  But the most impressive thing to me is his ability to stay level and grounded.  He has done so throughout the hyped recruiting process.

It became official today.  Harry Giles announced his intentions of playing his basketball for Duke University just moments ago.  He is fresh off his last official visit which was granted to Duke.  During the visit he seemed at home as the Cameron Crazies called him over to stand with them.  It  was again his day and his alone just like that night in North Augusta.  He was the only recruit in the house on this evening where the sole focus was on him as his parents watched on.

It was just days after his visit when the news broke that he had torn his MCL on his opposite knee in the Oak Hill academy opener.  I felt for Harry and Team Giles as did the nation.

Tatum and Giles are teammates again.

Giles has long road of recovery ahead but he now has  a coach in Mike Krzyzewski who will be there every step of the way with his rehabilitation.  After all, he has been there all along.  He has a friend in Jayson Tatum and teammates as well to call his new extended family.  And he also has the entire Blue Devil Nation rooting for him still ecstatic from his decision to play his college ball at Duke.

"The next school year I will be attending  Duke University," said Harry Giles just seconds ago."  Giles continued, "Every time I sit down and talk to Coach K is just a special feeling, every time we talk it's always the same feeling."

The rest of this story has yet to be written.


Duke Prospect Harry Giles Suffers Injury

Big time Duke prospect Harry Giles suffered an unfortunate season ending injury when he tore his ACL in the Oak Hill season opener.  Giles went down early in the game where he suffered a partial tear in his right ACL.

Giles suffered a more severe injury before where he tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee.  The current injury may well stretch into his fist college basketball season. It is a similar situation to former Duke standout Jabari Parker who is currently making his comeback with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Giles, rated the top prospect has just now moved his decision date up to tomorrow at 12:00 noon on ESPN. He will undergo surgery at an unspecified time and will begin the long process of coming back.

There is no reason to think that Giles will not recover on time, for he has an idea of the work that lies ahead.  Duke, considered the favorite by many for his  for good reason, is partially due to his relationship with Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

During his comeback in 2013, Kryzyzewski was front and center often alone in gyms on the AAU trail.  During the Nike Peach Jam that season, Krzyzewski was the only coach in the gym as Giles started his comeback with the CP3 U-16 team.

Giles is also close friends with Jayson Tatum who gave his verbal commitment to Duke a while ago.  One has to think that Giles attraction to Duke could be heightened in that the school has some of the nations best medical facilities and rehabilitation programs.

Giles had transferred to Oak Hill Academy from High Point Wesleyan this season.  He was a stand out performer with Team USA having led them in scoring on the U-19 team.

The stellar prospect recently visited Duke where he stood with the Cameron Crazies and Oak Hill alumnus  Quinn Cook.  Giles is considered a can't miss prospect who recently trimmed his list to Duke, Kansas Kentucky and Wake Forest.



ingram 005

Brandon Ingram Picks Duke

ingram 005The top unsigned prospect left in the nation just elected to play his college basketball for Mike Krzyzewski and duke University.  Ingram, the A.P. North Carolina High School Player of the year, chose Duke over Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Carolina State and UCLA.  With his addition, Duke now has the top recruiting class in the country coming in after losing Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow to the NBA.  The addition of Ingram gives Duke eleven scholarship players for the 2015-16 season.