Duke prospects Brandon Ingram, Harry Giles and Dennis Smith Jr. have been playing well at the High School Invitational. Here are video clips of their performances to date, thanks to Blue Devil Nation friends Ball is Life.
The early November signing period will yield no surprises for Duke Basketball. That is, unless their ast target decides to go ahead and announce his decision. Blue Devil Nation has learned that not only will Chase Jeter and Luke Kennard will send their letters of intent in, but they’ll also room together.
Meanwhile, another key target in Brandon Ingram and his camp continue to play their decision close to the vest. Originally, Ingram had planned to announce decision in the Fall and that can still happen.
The Blue Devil staff has to like their early haul. In Chase Jeter, they get a versatile front court player with plenty of upside. In Luke Kennard, they get a hard nose competitor that can play multiple roles as well.
Jeter stands 6-11 and played his high school ball in Las Vegas. He committed to Duke shortly after winning the MVP of an Adidas Nations event this pat August. At that rime he mentioned being able to play for Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and contribute right away as being key factors.
The Jeter family took their time with the recruiting process, but Duke had gained a lead on his last visit to the school. Still, they wanted to make sure it was the right decision and it all played out well for Duke in the end. Jeter suitors were Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and UNLV.
When Duke first started to recruit Luke Kennard just before the 2013 Nike Peach Jam, many felt he was Kentucky’s to lose. The reason being proximity to the school and early family allegiances. But Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski made some quick in roads and developed a strong relationship from that point on and it led to his commitment to the Blue Devils.
During his visit to Duke, Kennard felt at home and more importantly comfortable. He was told he could play three positions within their system on the visit and this enticed him to cast his lot with the Blue Devils.
Like Jeter, Kennard is a versatile player. He’s also very competitive in anything he does. He gave up playing quarterback for his high school football team for the big picture of playing basketball for Krzyzewski and Duke. Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio State had all offered Kennard who will sign his Letter of Intent on Wednesday at his high school.
At last report, Duke was slated to get a visit this weekend from Brandon Ingram, a talented in state prospect from Kinston, North Carolina. Most feel Ingram is down to the three triangle are schools which include Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State.
Ingram and his camp have been quiet of late but in no way be surprised if his decision comes at any time. Ingram has originally pointed to a Fall decision and their camp has always been solid on their word with concern to past comments.
Both Jeter and Kennard as well as the prospect Ingram are all ranked in the top 26 players in the nation according to ESPN.
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When Duke offers a sophomore in high school, it’s a big deal and means he’s pretty darn good. The Blue Devils strayed form their normal policy by offering the top point guard in the Class of 2017 in Troy Brown.
The youthful point guard already stands near 6-6 and has a smooth handle and game. It’s not a problem for him to get past defenders, often times making them look foolish in the process as he slithers through the lane for a dunk.
Brown visited Duke on an unofficial visit over the weekend and he came away with a rare offer from Coach Mike Krzyzewski for s rising sophomore. . Brown holds several offers already, including one from UNLV when he was 14 years old. He is also ranked the top point guard in his class at ESPN and while he has a way to go and grow, he could end up being a kid who can play other positions.
During an interview when he was thirteen years old, Brown listed Duke as one of his five dream schools growing up, so an early visit to the Duke campus should shock nobody. Brown most recently turned a few heads at the prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy earning him the number two spot in his class by ESPN as well.
Not surprisingly, Brown is already getting involved with USA Basketball and he also attended this past years Chris Paul Camp where he claimed his goal was to show the world a tall prospect can indeed run the point. He uses length and athleticism to his advantage and will surely get better with a lot of time left before he enters collegiate basketball.
If the budding prospect wasn’t already hot enough and starting to get serious hype for his on the court exploits, he will have even more with on the top programs in the nation offering much earlier than they normally do in Duke.
Brown currently plays AAU Basketball for the Las Vegas Prospects.
Chase Jeter, the 6’11” five-star forward out of Las Vegas, committed to the Duke Blue Devils tonight. Jeter had just completed his play at the AdidasNations event in Southern California, where he earned MVP honors for his play in the third place game, where he scored 14 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and blocked four shots. He actually blocked about seven, but only got credit for four. In any event, after his postgame announcement at Long Beach City College, Blue Devil Nation was the only media outlet granted a private one-on-one interview with the newest Duke star-in-waiting. Here’s what he had to say.
BDN: First of all, I just wanted to congratulate you on your choice and your announcement.
CJ: Thank you.
BDN: How does it feel to have the decision and the announcement behind you now?
CJ: Definitely good. It feels great going into my senior year. I feel really, really comfortable with my decision and I’m just excited to be a Blue Devil.
BDN: Was it a burden for you to have to wait to make the announcement for a little longer than you originally had thought it was going to be, or not really?
CJ: Not at all. It was a personal thing and a familial thing as far as evaluating my decision and making sure that I took the time to make the right choice and give myself time to enjoy the recruiting process.
BDN: That was my next question. Did you enjoy the recruitment process? Some guys do, some guys don’t.
CJ: It definitely has its ups and downs. I was one of the earlier guys to commit, but I was just really comfortable with my decision.
BDN: You’re going to a terrific program, one full of history and which has had a tremendous amount of success over a period of decades, led by the winningest coach in college basketball history. How does it feel to be part of Duke Basketball, officially?
CJ: It’s definitely something special. The Duke guys, they play with such pride and energy, so that’s something you definitely want to go out there and represent with all your heart.
BDN: If you had to put your finger on it, what was it about Duke that ultimately made you choose that program?
CJ: The opportunity to play for Coach K and be able to play right away and have a strong presence.
BDN: Did that stand out for you as opposed to other schools?
CJ: Definitely. I feel like each school was a great choice for me. My final schools were, they were a great list, my final list of schools, but I just feel like Duke is just where I felt most comfortable and I felt it was the best place for me.
BDN: It seemed like you and your family had a terrific visit to campus in the spring and I know you bonded with Luke Kennard. I know your parents really like the Kennards, too. And you bonded with some of the other players on the team also. Was that an important aspect of your decision-making process, that weekend that you had in Durham?
CJ: Definitely, but every single visit I took was a chance for me to see who was there, what the campus environment was like, and it was a great opportunity for me.
BDN: It’s going to be a great recruiting class with you, Luke, and the transfer Sean Obi coming in, and who knows maybe they’ll add another player too. Anyone you would like to see join you and Luke in Durham out of your class?
CJ: Looking to get Brandon Ingram on board, you know he’s taking an official to UCLA this week –
BDN: And he’s going to Duke later in the week too.
CJ: Yeah, I know. So it’s gonna be interesting to see how everything works out for Brandon and we’re gonna try to get him on board.
BDN: You’re gonna work him?
CJ: Oh, definitely.
BDN: Was it tough to decide to go as far from home as you are going, or not really a big factor for you?
CJ: It was. I mean, I’ve been out on the west coast my whole life. I feel like I have a great relationship with my parents but at the end of the day, I felt like Duke was the best choice.
BDN: Last thing: Do you anticipate any kind of negative backlash or talk from the people at home, because I know there were a lot of people who wanted you to stay home and go to UNLV? Do you anticipate anything like that and if so, how are you going to deal with that?
CJ: Just ignore it, honestly. Like they say, haters aren’t my motivator. I just have to continue to do me. That’s what’s gotten me this far with the support of my family and my trainers and coaches so I just feel like I should just continue to do me. That’s all I can do.
BDN: I just wanted to congratulate you on making the decision. I hope you have a great senior season and I look forward to seeing you on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
CJ: Thanks, Tom.
We’re on the recruiting trail again this weekend and will report on Duke prospects from the Nike EYBL Session 3 in Hampton, Virginia. Stay tuned for reports on the site and message board and please be patient as we work out the kinks in a move to a new server. Thanks for following Blue Devil Nation the site and our various social media venues.
This past weekend officially kicked off the all important AAU Basketball season where the top prospects play for the various power shoe companies. While Duke is indeed a Nike school, other show companies have plenty of targets making this a summer where more than one circuit is important to their wish list. Blue Devil Nation takes a look at the current state of recruiting while giving you a look at names firmly on the radar along with a few that could be soon. We’ll add more information as we learn it on the premium message board for paying members this week. But for now, here is a breakdown and some thoughts from week one.
The Duke coaches were out in force in the opening week of the AAU season and for good reason. This was their only opportunity to get first hand views until July of this year. Several prospects impressed, while others firmly fitted their name on the short list and we take a look at the results, laced with some thoughts on where some kids might stand in the pecking order.
Brandon Ingram made an impression on the staff with his versatility. IMO, Ingram[private] has the potential to fill a role in time and to be a complement player on a teams roster. While he is still quite slender, his strength is a bit deceptive in that he is quite lean. Ingram is playing on the Adidas circuit with Stackhouse Elite (yes, Jerry Stackhouse AAU team). He showed better on the board than many though possible over the weekend where he saved his best game for last tallying a stat line of 10 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals. Ingram holds a Duke offer and the school is definitely in my opinion, at the top of his list.
Many wanted to see Chase Jeter play as well this past weekend, but the Duke offer has a nagging injury and was held out for precautionary reasons. Jeter continues to speak highly of Duke and in my opinion, he’s the Blue Devils to lose but he, like the aforementioned Ingram is an Adidas kid and with him being highly ranked and sought after there is pressure from the shoe company to hold off on a decision. Despite that, Jeter maintains it will be a July decision at the latest and he could commit sooner rather than later in that many feel he will be in Durham. An active big man with a great attitude has many suitors, but Duke was in early on this one and they’re in solid shape.
Rounding out prospects on the Adidas circuit who have interest in Duke, is Josh Sharma, a 2015 power forward from Northfield, MA. Somewhat new to the radar, Duke is evaluating his game at this time and only time will tell if they turn the heat up. Sharma is not a flashy player but more of one who feels a role and he had a good but not great weekend in the Adidas Gauntlet event held in Dallas, Texas where Mike Krzyzewski and Jeff Capel watched his game.
Adidas also features some top rated underclassman, namely, the uber talented Thon Maker. Maker, a seven foot player with an outside touch and a good handle for a big man, was his usual self and he drew the attention of Calipari, Coach K and Bill Self. This one will be a tough get in that both Kansas and Kentucky are set to go all in.
Josh Langford who is balling for the Atlanta Celtics was quite impressive. The Duke target put up superior numbers of 16.6 ppg, 4 plus boards ad 3 assists over the weekend. Many will remember the Celtics AAU team from the Bob Gibbons Days where their team was always stacked with the likes of many a pro future player. Langford did nothing to hurt his high ranking. Langford visited Duke in an unofficial capacity in March.
A player who blew up with gaudy numbers was Junior Smith, a North Carolina native playing in the Adidas circuit. He had high games of 24 and 37 and showed the anility to really find the open man while scoring. Yes, that’s attractive. He’s from Fayetteville, N.C. and is a point guard. I can hear those saying, finally another PG on the radar. Anyhow, after this weekends performance he blows up and the hype heightens. To early to tell of his interest in schools per sources, but we should be hearing a lot more here soon.
A note of interest is that I cannot remember this many Duke prospects on the Adidas circuit in some time. So, this circuit is one to watch along with the Nike EYBL this year. Another not is the Duke use to be an Adidas school before switching to Nike. I took a picture with Coach K during an Adidas local event way back in 1983 that I covet. And yes, I was holding a box of the former Adidas Superstar shoe, perhaps the first premium shoe on the sneaker market way back in the 70’s.
Anyhow, on the the Nike EYBL circuit. It didn’t take long for new Duke Assistant Jon Scheyer to get his feet wet as he was the first on the scene for Duke in Sacramento. He of course, took in Luke Kennard, a recent verbal to Duke. Kennard started slowly but warmed up as the weekend went by and played better in front of Krzyzewski, once he arrived. Kennard likes to battle. He’s competitive and that showed with his work on the glass. Yes, the boards. He showed the ability and hustle to average 5.5 rpg including a 7.5 average when Krzyzewski was on him.
Face it. The Nike circuit known as the EYBL will always be the main fruit tree for the staff and they had three coaches there by Saturday. For those wondering three of the four coaches can be out at one time on the circuit. Anyhow, enter Ivan Rabb, a talented power forward who plays for the traditionally talented Oakland Soldiers AAU team. Rabb was quite impressive but supposedly had an injury. His numbers and board work were impressive.
A lot of people, including myself to some degree were surprised by Duke’s offer to Henry Ellenson of Wisconsin Playground Elite. Well, this weekend, he proved why Krzyzewski was high on him by putting up solid numbers across the board. Try 11.8 ppg and just under 10 boards on average and you can see why teams want to plug this guy into their system. Ellenson plays within his game structure which is attractive. On e thing I have learned in ten plus years of covering the AAU circuit is that Coach K can spot talent and that it often rises to the top after he gives them a stamp of approval.
But when it comes to the Nike circuit this year, all eyes from Duke fans should focus on the Class of 2016 which holds some ridiculous talent.
Let’s start with Harry Giles. This kid has been to many a Duke game and Coach K has formed a phenominal relationship with the talented prospect. Giles still has not returned to the court and this is not unusual for a player of his skill set. He blew me away during last seasons Peach Jam and I hope he plays with the older kids this year to get a better gauge for his immense talent. Anyhow, any time you see K and Giles the in the same building, you soon see them nod and smile at one another. It took Giles a nano second to recognize Coach K when he enters and AAU event. I’ll let you read between the lines on the value of that. Anyhow, we’ll see Giles in action soon as he makes his return to the court.
And then there is Jayson Tatum. This young prospect likes Duke and Duke likes him and they are firmly on what will be his final cut in my opinion from reading the tea leaves. I have taken a hiatus from Twitter for a bit, a self imposed break. But I returned yesterday to find he re-tweeted one of my tweets speaking if Duke and their interest in him. Anyhow, four sold games from Tatum who I like more and more as I see his talent and demeanor. Kentucky, Kansas, Florida and Duke have offered and he is big on Team USA duties. Slender but talented 6-8ish wing is but a mere 16 years young.
Once Scheyer went home, James was out and he took in Diamond Stone who gave quite the impressive effort. Some have asked if Duke will continue to recruit Stone if they get Jeter and the answer is a resounding yes. Stone is just so talented and he’ll very much remain on the Duke radar. Malik Newman was also Jayhawk Invitational.
I will update with with more information as it becomes available on the members message board. [/private]