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]
After watching his team unexpectedly lose to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski wasted little time in hitting the recruiting trail with a fervor. Not only did Duke struggle in the paint defensively in the NCAA's, they did so to some degree all season long.
Obviously, Duke addressed those issues and they did so quickly as their staff hit the trail running. Not even a coaching change, where they lost a long time Krzyzewski assistant in Steve Wojciechowski could halt their focus.
As had been mentioned, Duke would not only look at the current rising high school basketball players, but they'd look for a transfer provided he was a fit for the school and with that said, enter Sean Obi.
Not many Duke fans knew who Obi was and unless you followed Rice in Conference USA, you may not have realized that the 6-9 behemoth was named the leagues freshman of the year which is obviously, quite an honor.
Obi was everything Duke wanted. He was adept in the class room, a load in the paint and he showed potential and the ability to battle on the boards in both high school and at Rice.
During this past season, Obi, a native of Nigeria, averaged 11.4 points and led Conference USA in rebounding at 9.3 per game, so there is no doubt he can play.
Obi visited the campus over this past weekend and he obviously enjoyed himself which was evident on his social media accounts. Obi wasted little time showing his pleasure with his journey after the visit and later tweeted out that he would be attending Duke.
With the addition of Obi, Duke gets a proven post player who can come in and complete in practice against prized freshman Jahlil Okafor. Going up against one another in practice will benefit both of these young men, so we have dual winners in many ways, or perhaps, I should say three winners in that Duke immediately benefits from his addition as well.
Obi will also be able to team with Marshall Plumlee moving forward and many expect the third of the Plumlee clan to break out in his final two seasons. Obi, will of course, have to sit out the coming season, but will have three years of eligibility left.
Like many of the Duke prospects, Obi impressed off the court as well and that made him both a rare, and highly desirable transfer for Duke. And when Krzyzewski goes this route, there has been proven success, like Roshown McCloud and recently Rodney Hood,
While Obi had many suitors and other visits planned, he fell for Duke and did so quickly. That helps the program in many ways for they are wrapping up this seasons incoming class quickly with USA Basketball duties beckoning for Krzyzewski in mid July.
In fact, he also will compliment one of the last two main targets in the Class of 2015, that being Chase Jeter, a player considered to really like the Blue Devils. Jeter is expected to make a decision soon, but Blue Devil Nation learned it could go a little longer into the summer or near July before he makes a pick.
With that said, here is a great video from when Obi was in high school which tells the tale of his past better than any article can. So take a look at it and know that this new marriage seems to be quite the fit for both Obi and Duke University. Talk about this article in on of our social media outlets or as a member of Blue Devil Nation. Get to know Sean Obi
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]