The Duke Blue Devils staff recently visited Henry Ellenson, a 6-9, 245 pound prospect from Rice Lake, Wisconsin. The Blue Devils have long showed interest in Ellenson, a true post player who will play his AAU ball for Minnesota Pump N' Run this summer. The Duke staff has been heavy on the recruiting trail during the past few weeks and they will soon visit Brandon Ingram, another prospect from North Carolina in the near future.
Coach K, along with two assistants, visited key 2015 recruit Chase Jeter on Thursday in Las Vegas. was a [private] short visit with the 6'10" Bishop Gorman HS forward, too short to even watch him work out, but nevertheless was a bonding opportunity between Chase and the staff. The Duke coaches know that they are close with Jeter, so this was far from a pressurized environment, despite the hopes of a commitment post-Luke Kennard committing earlier in the week per sources. While Arizona in particular is still in the running, along with UCLA and Oregon, Duke has only solidified its leadership position with Jeter over the last month or so. Jeter is still sticking to his previously-stated plan (see our previous interview) to commit in late April or early May, and with how comfortable he and his family are feeling with Duke, its staff, and the other players -- and the bonding Chase did with Luke Kennard over the UNC weekend -- it would be a big surprise at this point if Jeter does not become a Blue Devil.[/private]
When it comes to reporting on how national basketball recruits’ official on-campus visits have gone, the national media seems to need to trip all over each other to get the first breathless report up, even if all it says is the visit “went well.” Great information, huh? I have found that sometimes if you wait a few days, let the young man and his family get home, take a breath, and sort their feelings out, you get a much clearer view of what they may be thinking.
With Chase Jeter, the 6’10” forward out of Las Vegas (Class of 2015) who visited last weekend for the UNC game, [ even after settling back in at home with his family and having a week to think about it, he still seems to be glowing from the experience he had in [private] Durham.
It’s not that Jeter and his family did anything so unusual during the weekend. He and his mom and dad arrived on a rainy Friday morning, had lunch with Coach K and the staff, watched practice in the afternoon, and had dinner that evening with Luke Kennard and the Kennard family. On Saturday they enjoyed a campus tour, and just relaxed and hung out with the current players and some future ones before that evening’s game against the Tar Heels.
Jabari Parker was tasked with being Chase’s “shadow” for the weekend, and that can’t be bad, right? But Chase, Luke, and Myles Turner also hung out a lot with Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Rasheed Sulaimon, among others. He was really impressed by what he saw all weekend, stating that the campus and the facilities exceeded his expectations – he was surprised the campus was as big as it is.
Once at Cameron for the game, Chase was essentially blown away by what he experienced, describing it as an “insane atmosphere.” It was his first time in Cameron, and in fact his first time on campus or indeed in the state of North Carolina, and he thought the fans were awesome.
But the time Chase got to spend with the coaches was a very important part of the visit as well. Of course he was able to continue to develop his relationship with his primary recruiter – Wojo – but he also took the opportunity to get to know Coaches Capel and James a whole lot better, and to connect with Coach K in his natural habitat.
The most interesting comments Chase made in today’s interview were when he described how special being a Duke basketball player would be. Why? Because he learned about, and saw up close, “the pride and passion of having Duke across your chest.” “Duke is filled with top notch students and athletes, and everyone is just genuine people, top of the line. Elite all the way.” He stated that he has not seen anywhere like it, mainly because of the quality of the people involved at the university and within the basketball program.
Chase’s parents, Kim and Chris, felt the same way; according to Chase, they “loved” the whole experience.
So where does this leave us with young Mr. Jeter? Well, he did have a great visit to Arizona recently too, though that was an unofficial visit and the trip to Duke was an official. But Sean Miller’s program is attractive to him too, as their facilities and fans impressed him. Chase stated that Arizona and Duke are his “top two maybe” but was quick to add that many other schools remain in the mix, mentioning UCLA, Oregon, Kansas, and UNC, among others. But still, even when discussing the fact that many other schools are under consideration, he mentioned again that Duke was “awesome.”
How is he going to decide? He’s a thoughtful young man, and his parents are smart and caring people too. This is not going to be a rash decision. But Chase did mention that he’ll be watching the NCAA Tournament, and that how his suitors do in the tournament may in fact be a factor for him, because he wants to be part of a winning program.
Chase refuted the rumors that he is going to be reversing field and making a quick decision. The timeline he told me he had back in January stands – he anticipates making a decision in the spring, possibly late April or early May.
There is no way to know exactly what is going through a young man’s mind when he has this many people, this many famous coaches, this much media, coming at him all the time. But Chase Jeter is a pretty grounded (off the basketball court) kid, from a great family, who obviously feels that Duke made a very positive impression on him last weekend in Durham, and can see himself fitting in on this campus and wearing the Duke blue uniform.[/private]
Duke had several key visitors on campus for their rivalry game and win over North Carolina this past weekend and it's time to take an initial look at the possible results with some nuggets on how the visits went.
Firstly, Myles Turner, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter are listed as some of the nations top prospects and all of them were on their official visit to Duke.
Turner is the top remaining prospect from the Class of 2014, is a center/power forward who stands a lean but muscular 6-11. He's believed to have high interest in Kansas and Texas as well.
Luke Kennard is an outstanding dual athlete and shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio and Chase Jeter is a sleek forward from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both are in the loaded Class of 2015.
Also in attendance was local Kinston product and lean forward Brandon Ingram from the 2015 class and one of the heavyweights in 2016, Harry Giles, a post talent from High Point.
So, how did their visits go? Well, here we go -
The Kennard and Jeter families came [private] in on Friday and attended the Duke practice. As usual, the coaches would on occasion go over to talk with them during breaks.
Later that afternoon, the staff spent more time with the parents while the players would hang out and attend the pep rally and campus festivities.
The word is that after practice, Chase Jeter wanted to remain in Cameron to shoot around, meaning he was starting to really enjoy his trip.
The Kennard's were shown the Duke style of doing things as well and Duke Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer seems to have bonded with the Dad.
On game day, all of the aforementioned prospects joined Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow who of course, are Duke bound. While I am on these two I noted two things in my minds eye.
Firstly, Okafor has trimmed down a lot since this past AAU season as some his reshapes his body as he matures. Winslow, seems more muscular and his sturdy frame is beyond a freshman body right now. These two are definitely going to be ready to go form day one if the look test means anything.
Anyhow, back to game day and how the recruits responded. In a word, the visits went "great." In fact, I now consider Duke the leader for Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter and that's a good thing.
Kennard has long been rumored to be a Kentucky lean due to lineage in his family, but Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has made some major in roads here. This is a hard nosed kid who has that little edge when on the court and there is absolutely no reason to believe Duke is not right there if not the favorite from my vantage.
Jeter, who literally had to be chased out of the gym, enjoyed his visit immensely if facial expressions and actions mean anything. Both player had prominent cheers tossed their way from the Crazies who site directly behind me.
Before I go on, let me talk a bit about those Crazies. They are the line or tent monitors and the ones who start the cheers. And they are well versed in looking over my, er, shoulder, to see who to call out.
Another thing to mention before I proceed, is that there were a lot of celebrities in the crowd and this worked well in my opinion in helping set the tone and atmosphere of the game.
Dallas Cowboy's Head Coach Jason Garrett and their quarterback, Tony Romo attended the Duke practice on Friday and they were at the game as well. Both sat directly beside the prospects and mingled with them often and said kids seem to have really enjoy their presence.
Also in attendance was NFL commish Roger Goodella along with Barry Switzer and many others, including Duke celebs and every ESPN type you can imagine be it Dicky Vitale, Jay Bilas or Jay Williams.
And then there was the Cameron atmosphere and the old girl did not let Duke fans down when trying to make an impression. You see when some come to visit Duke, they freak out at the size, thinking it is small. But once that cozy place feels with rabid fans, it's a sight to see and a sound to hear.
Anyhow, back to the prospects. The Crazies will often cheer a prospects name followed by sit with us. They even make room before this happens to help sway their target.
They started with Kennard and Jeter and the two wore wide smiles as they came over and settled in directly behind me. There they cheered just like the Crazies did at times and it is worth noting that they all were clearly rooting for Duke while the game was going on, much more so than what I'd deem normal and my seat is straight away from the bench.
Once, Jeter even held up a colorful anti UNC sign of the kind that on many occasions gets taken away during breaks which I found funny.
Kennard was a little more reserved than Jeter, but that's the way he is on the court as well, a cool customer. Kennard would crack a smile often though and they enjoyed themselves immensely with the students.
A bit later, Myles Turner joined the fray and it was clear that he too was having a big time. The trio continued to cheer and only left when an usher urged them to with about two minutes left in the game.
Many have asked my read on Turner and it's tough to come up with one at this time in that I haven't had a lit of feedback yet. But there is no doubt he was having fun here as well and he was outgoing and seemingly appreciative of his visit. But Duke is still in it and with a player of his ilk, that is never a bad thing.
Many of the prospects would later go campus hopping where they checked out the bon fires and parties. They also got to spend time with students and talking education but it is spring break at Duke, so not quite the normal scene.
By all accounts I have received, they had a good time but stuck close to the team. The Crazies also tried their best to get Harry Giles to come over, but he smiled them off. Giles who is still recovering from an injury is a man child and I love his game. His early relationship with Krzyzewski is priceless but he'll have some teams coming hard at him.
As for Brandon Ingram, we'll have to see how things shake out. He recently visited UNC but he's been emphatic in conversations past with me that he is a Duke fan. Duke Assistant Nate James is the lead here and Duke will keep an eye on him. Ingram is soooo slender, but he has some upside, but he could be a redshirt candidate if Duke gets more serious in the future just to allow his body to catch up to his talent.
Duke also continues to recruit Diamond Stone as a top priority and big men are almost the soul focus past Kennard in his class at this time. That, of course, will change come AAU season when the coaches get out and evaluate more.
A sleeper name to watch is Alonzo Mourning's son who is in this coming years class. Duke has showed some interest in him as has Florida and Georgetown. And we all know Coach K loves and is great with kids who have NBA lineage in their blood. Trey Mourning has had some recent contact from Duke.
In a side note, the surgery I had on my hands was successful and I can type at length again and that means we'll have other updates coming.
Lastly, what a great win for momentum last night and Cameron, was again great. It was a really good night for Duke in many respects. [/private]
Duke Basketball has offered Jayson Tatum a scholarship per sources. Tatum is one of the top prospects in the class of 2016 and hails from St. Louis, Missouri.
Tatum is active with Team USA Basketball and is rated the second best at his position by ESPN.
He holds offers from Kentucky, Kansas, Ohio State and North Carolina amongst others.
Tatum has a silky smooth game and puts the ball on the floor well driving the ball to the rim. He possesses a solid basketball IQ and has the ability to continue to get better, meaning good upside.
Like many Duke prospects, he has a solid background and seems grounded in his faith. You can follow him @Im_that_dude22 here. Stay tuned for more from Blue Devil Nation.
Normally top rated prospects from Kinston flock to North Carolina, but Brandon Ingram could break that mold. Ingram is a slender, yet talented small forward prospect <!--more--> and he happened to grow up a huge Duke fans. Ingram showed well during the recent HS OT Invitational in Raleigh and he took time to chat up Blue Devil Nation during the event - [private]