Category Archives: Duke Basketball Recruiting News

Catching up with 2015 prospect Skal Labissiere

prosMake no mistake, Skal Labissiere is clearly one of the top prospects in the class of 2015 and his play continues to draw hoards of coaches on the AAU circuit.  Labissiere runs the floor like a Gazelle said one major college coach and I have to agree.  If you are looking for a smooth operator who glides up and down the court showing off his length and impressive offensive skills, then Skal is the prospect for you.  As he gains strength, his potential could be frightening in that he seems to be showing constant improvement during each event.  We spoke to Labissiere during the NBAPA Top 100 Camp recently and took time to follow up with him on what has happened since while covering the Nike EYBL Finals also known as the Peach Jam.

How many teams have called since I last saw you at the NBA Top 100 Camp?

I haven’t had that many but Duke called, Baylor, Texas, Tennessee and that’s about it.

So, how did you originally come to the United States from Haiti?  [private]

My guardian, Gerald Hamilton is a part of a non-profit organization that helps kids from other countries and help people play sports and reach their dreams.

What are your impressions on college basketball in the United States?

In Haiti. we do not watch college hoops, we watch the NBA, so I do not know much about the college game/

Did you have a favorite NBA player growing up?

Kobe and the Lakers. He’s a person I would love to meet.

If you could have dinner with any coach all time, who would it be with?

John Wooden. I have books which talks about him.

You have all the major college coaches in the gym to watch you, what are your feelings about the growing attention?

When I came to the United States I didn’t know basketball was that serious and that the college recruiting is so crazy. On the court, it is really physical and the game is fast.

Do you have an idea when you will make a decision on where you will play college basketball?

Probably my senior year. I am going to take my time.

What are the most important factors for you when choosing a school?

The system. I want to go somewhere you can run and look at what kind of guys they have there. I want to check out how things are off the court as well and play with guys who have good character.  I know I have to earn my playing time and put in the work once I get there but I just want to have a good relationship with the coach and the teammates around me.

Will you take all of your alloted official visits?

Yes sir. I will take all five official visits.

Have you taken any unofficial visits to date?

Memphis and Ole Miss

What do you like the most about basketball?

Just, you know, I just have fun playing the game.

Any idea on what you would like to study in college?

Probably something to do with business.

Thanks for your time.

Yes sir, no problem.

Jahlil Okafor talks recruiting, package deals and more

Semi others PEach 12 003One of the nations top post prospects is nearing his decision on where he will be playing his college basketball and Blue Devil Nation brings you some exclusive video interview footage from the Nike EYBL Peach Jam.  In the following two video chats Okafor updates you on the very latest in his recruitment and addresses the package deal he will be a part of with Tyus Jones and more. [private]

More to come on Blue Devil Nation Premium! [/private]

Duke offers Luke Kennard

timthumbWe posted a one on one video chat with Luke Kennard (Class of 2015, 6-5, 185 WG, Franklin, OH) helping you get to know the latest target on the Duke radar two days ago but here is a follow-up interview after Coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistant Jeff Capel took in three of his games during the Nike EYBL Peach Jam.   The southpaw Kennard has the nation’s top programs waiting in line to court him and he’s improved greatly from a season ago.

The Ohio native is a hustler on the court, playing with that little edge or perhaps I should just simply say be brings a lot of tenacity to the court with his game.  Ohio State has been on him the longest and North Carolina has offered him recently and before the ink dries in this article, he’ll probably hold an offer from Duke as well.

Kennard made an unofficial visit to North Carolina during the Duke versus UNC game, but that morning he slipped over to Duke with his high school coach.  And his parents?  They grew up Kentucky fans.  To read more about this and learn much more about Kennard who is also an accomplished quarterback on the football field where he holds a offer from Louisville, join Blue Devil Nation Premium for full site access.

You’re a two sport athlete, right?

Yes, I play quarterback in football. I have an offer in from Louisville.

So, which sport do you feel you will play in college? [private]

Probably basketball.

You just finished up your last game, a close loss but you have more or less blown up this weekend. have you been hearing from a lot of folks already?

Not tons yet, but I know some people have been in touch with my Dad and I will talk to him.  We played them (Arkansas Wings) before, we beat them before.

(About this time, father walked up and out his hand on my shoulder and said something none of us quite understood.)

I know Kentucky has been showing major interest.

Cal called. He wanted me to call him.

Cal called you while here?

Well, he called my Dad but said he wanted to talk to me.

Your parents grew up Kentucky fans. is that correct?

Yeah, they did, but right now we don’t really have a favorite team.

You had a lot of coaches on you during the last game ,.. Calipari who you said your family heard from and Krzyzewski … have you heard from Duke?

I have heard from Duke. Actually, they came to the last three games I have played. Coach Scheyer, who played at Duke has been texting me a lot. I think Coach K called by Dad yesterday. I went on an unofficial visit to UNC when thy played Duke and we snuck over that morning and saw Duke. We walked around the campus, me ans my high school coach and it’s nice over there.

Some have said Ohio State is the leader and Greg Paulus has been at all of your games here.  Is he the lead assistant for the Buckeyes?

Yep, yeah. they’ve recruited me the longest. Paulus has been watching but Jeff Bowles, he’s been texting me every day. I think he is at he Adidas tournament right now, but yeah, Coach Paulus has been talking to me a whole lot but there is no leader at this time. There is so much happening right now, it’s hard to pick a leader at this point, but Ohio stat is definitely up there,

Carolina, Duke. Florida, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan and Michigan State …

I have always dreamed of this kind of thing, so I am enjoying it and just have to keep getting better.

Have you been involved with USA Basketball yet? And if not, would you like to be?

I haven’t yet, but I would like to try.

Vegas or Orlando?

Orlando. I will go to Chicago next week, but we’ll finish up in Orlando.

Tell me a little more about your high school football career ..

We run the spread the hurry up. My freshman year i didn’t start but sophomore year I started. I played baseball until the sixth grade and stopped to focus on two sports. I always played football and my high school coaches think I should continue and will be good at thar sport as well. I have fun with it.

I understand your parents grew up Kentucky fans?

They grew up in Pinksville. They didn’t go to Kentucky but he grew up pulling for them. I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life, so my Dad has been here for a while now.

When you get around to making your final decision who will be involved in the process?

My parents and my high school coaches

Who is your high school coach?

Brian Bayless. he does a good job.

What areas of you game do you feel needs improvement?

I have been working with this guy on post moves. I think I need work there and I;ve been working on my strength too, I have gotten a lot stronger since last year.

You seem serious on the court and or you compete hard.  Once, I saw you get a little frustrated when teammates would not spread the court properly in the motion offense.

I’m very competitive. I try to talk and get teammates to the right positions so we can execute the play, so yes, I do sometime get frustrated if one is out of position but that’s a rarity and you just play through it.

You seem as enthused about playing on the defensive end as much so as the offensive end.

Yes, I try to play hard on both ends as much as I can.

Did you have a dream school growing up?

I watched Kentucky and Ohio State growing up but no dream school.

Do you try to pattern your game after any particular player?

I”ve always watched Reggie Miller play and Durrant. People tell me I look like him.

Have you always played for the King James Shooting Stars?

No. This is the first time for me.  Me, the big man and the point have been together for three or four years and then some guys from up state in Akron joined us, like VJ.

What do you think of your teammate VJ?

Well, he’s just a freshman and he played for Team USA. He could be th top player in his class.

Has playing two sports had any negative effects?

We made it pretty far in the playoffs last year so we had jump right into basketball but the two haven’t really had any negative effect one way or the other. I still get in the gym though, even during football season.

Would you call yourself a gym rat?

Absolutely. [/private]

Nike EYBL Peach Jam Friday Day Session – Duke Prospects Update

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow has a monster day. Rick Crank for BDN

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC - The Nike EYBL Peach Jam is the premiere event of summer when it comes to AAU basketball in that the games count and a champion will be crowned on Sunday.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is here with his assistant Jeff Capel in tow taking in some of the nations best prospects and Blue Devil Nation is here as well to let you know how the key prospects are playing.

Here is a recap of the morning and afternoon sessions from a Duke angle –

Grayson Allen continues [private]  to be played sparingly for Each One Teach One (E1T1) but a trained eye can see he’s not getting the looks or ball when needed to be successful at a high level.

Allen went 3 for 3 from the field today and 2 of 2 from the free throw stripe where Coach Krzyzewski took in part of his game. Allen loves to drive the open lane for a tomahawk dunk and he’s done so three times while I have watched. But the bottom line is he is not on a team where he is a good fit and established players are freezing him out.

I, for one, think Allen is going to be just fine when he arrives in Durham and I can tell you that Coach K loves him and for good reason which I will elaborate more on this coming week.

Mac Irvin was playing at the same time as Allen and this meant Capel was there for the whole game and Krzyzewski for the majority of it. In fact, he split time watching two games, strategically standing in the end zone for both courts and a new prospect name could have hit the radar … more to come on that.

Jahlil Okafor helped lead the Mac Irwin Fire to an 88-79 win over the Texas Titans (Matt Jones former AAU team). The big Okafor tallied 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting from the field and he is one of the few players who has played better or stronger as the tournament grind wears on..

A worthy side notes is the fact that the Duke center prospect dished out 5 assists to go with his 5 rebounds.

Krzyzewski remained in the end zone for the 10:30 games as well and he did so to watch the most coveted PG in the country in Tyus Jones. Howard Pulley came into the game without a win but Jones scored 21 points and dished out 9 assists to lead his team to a 90-78 win over Travelers Basketball.

Today, everybody and their brother is all over the fact he will attend the same school as Okafor and I think this happens. I feel great about the Blue Devils position here and the fact that Krzyzewski has such a strong relationship with Jones.

The Malik Newman show continued where the sleek young prospect scored 26 points shooting the ball much better than he did last evening. But once again, his Jackson Tigers team, which is really weak, lost.

Texas Elite drew no Duke views today but Elijah Thomas went 3 of 7 ending the game with 8 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes of play. Thomas, who fouled out last evening was once again saddled with foul trouble where he had 4 total and his team was absolutely crushed by Team Takeover by an 82-44 score.

Not to be out done by Jahlil Okafors’ fine performance, Justise Winslow had a monster game where he scored 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. Winslow also pulled down 7 rebounds and had 6 assists for a wonderful days work.

Winslow is a well-rounded player who still lists ten schools and he said today UCLA and others were trying to enter the picture. I will have an interview up with Winslow shortly.

Houston Hoops dropped Boo Williams 78-62 where Thon Maker had 15 points and 7 rebounds for the loser. I spoke to Maker as well, so we have some interviews when I can find time to transcribe them.

Finally, Coach Krzyzewski took a look at Luke Kennard who dropped 20 point in his teams win. The youngster plays a hard nose style of basketball with that little edge of intensity. Quite simply, he likes to compete.

I will go into my thought on players a bit later, but for now, I have to prep for the evening session and then later find some rest to close out Saturdays games before taking the road trip back to Durham.

Discuss this and more on the BDN Premium message board with fellow members.

Sidebar – Coach K stood beside and chatted up Kentuckys’ John Calipari.  I sat with Johnny Dawkins for one game catching up on old times and had a chance to talk to Chris Collins as well.  Also, welcomed Mike Brey to the ACC and had a nice talk with him as well.  For the record, Duke will play the Irish once on the road this season.  Stanley  Johnson had a good game today where he dropped 34 and 14. [/private]

Luke Kennard is a name to watch

kinnardNorth Augusta, SC - Keep the name Luke Kennard in mind for you will be hearing more of the 2015 SG from Franklin, Ohio in the coming days.  Kennard is a major target for the Ohio State Buckeyes and he was recently offered by North Carolina and yes, it looks as if Duke will get involved as well.  Coach Mike Kryzewski joined Tom Izzo, Roy Williams and many other coaches just moments ago for his game and Blue Devil Nation caught up to the rising star and obtained this one on one interview with Kennard last evening.  So join BDN Premium and get to know a new prospect on the radar. [private]

More to come!  Discuss this article as a member on the BDN Premium message board. [/private]

Q & A with Duke Prospect Kavon Looney

kavon-looneyThere are a select few players out there whom Duke is recruiting who are not on the Nike EYBL Circuit, and Milwaukee native Kavon Looney (Class of 2014, 6-7)  is one of those prospects.  I was finally able to see Looney live during the recent NBAPA Top 100 Camp, and all the raves I have heard about his play were deserved.  What I saw in Looney is a kid who hustled non-stop and was very active, always seeming to be around the ball.  Within the first five minutes of sitting down to view him. he blocked successive shots on one defensive possession and hustled to take care of any garbage or putbacks.  I usually like to watch five full games of any prospect before trying to break down his game, but it didn’t take that many views of Looney for me to realize why Duke is so high on him.  The Blue Devils are certainly in the mix for Looney and it is clear that there is mutual admiration here per his comments, but this race is a hotly-contested one.  Looney confirmed to Blue Devil Nation that he would indeed narrow his list of schools just after the July 4th holiday, and there is little reason to think Duke will not make that cut.  There is little not to like about this young man’s game, especially his desire and hustle.  With that said, premium members can read the full interview below, and I will talk more about Looney and further break down his game on the BDN Premium message boards if there are any questions.


How would you describe your game in your own words?

I play hard and I am versatile and I try to be tough and smart out there.

I’m hearing you are ready to cut your list to five schools.  When will that decision actually take place?

Yes, I will cut my list to five on July 5th.

Who will play important roles in your decision-making process?

My parents and [private] my AAU Coach will have influence on my decision. They’ve been in the process from the start and will be there until the end.

Where or when did you learn the game of hoops?

My Dad and my brother when I was about six or seven. We’d go down to the park and play and I would watch him. And then, since the third grade, I have been with the same AAU team.

Which schools have been the most active or aggressive in recruiting you to date?

I would say about five or six. Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Duke and Tennessee and Georgetown is starting to pick it up again.

Did you have a dream school growing up?

I really didn’t follow college basketball during the season a lot but I would watch the tournament, so I really didn’t have a dream school growing up.

Did you have a player you liked one where you would try to  emulate their style on the court growing up?

My favorite player is Kobe and I like the Lakers, so I he got injured.

Will you be taking all five of the official visits you are allotted before making a decision?

Yes, I do plan on taking all five official visits before making a decision.

What do you think of Duke?

Duke is a great school with great tradition. They’ve got a legendary coach and a great brand for school and basketball, so I am showing a lot of interest in Duke.

What are your plans for the rest of summer?

I am not sure, but I am going to the LeBron James Skills Academy and I will go to Vegas.

Do you currently have a timeline for making a decision?

Yes, I want to do it before the high school season which could be around November or something like that.

What is the most important factor that have influence on your pending decision?

I would say communication and trust. The coach who I have the best relationship with is probably where I will end up going. [/private]