Blue Devil Nation chatted up Duke freshmen Wendell Carter recently and here is how that conversation went.
A lot of changes since I last saw you on the Nike circuit. You've cut your hair. Are you going to keep it short now?
I don't know, I don't know. We'll see how it's feeling. I might row it back out in a little bit.
What has been your biggest adjustment so far?
Time management. We are out here and basically on our own now. We are required to get to practice and class on time. You don;t have your parents to reinforce what you have to do, so time management has been my biggest adjustment.
I am looking at a rebuilt body.
How did that come about?
A great coaching staff, weight lifting and my trainer has us on a great eating plan. So just taking care of your body and doing a lot of work in the weight room.
What do you think your role will be this season? I mean nobody has likely ever played with this many big men who can all play.
We are all kind of looking for our role right now. Me, Marvin and Marques and Antonio are all looking at what we can do to better fit the team. It is kind of like a gray area where we are trying to figure it all out, but we are really great friends off the court, so I think we should be fine.
(Grayson Allen walked by and gave Carter a solid whack on his rear about this time. To his credit, Carter just played it off as a smiling Allen walked away.)
What do you think about that?
That's just Grayson.
What has he been like as a leader so far this year?
He's been a really great leader and somebody I can talk to on or off the court. He is just easy to relate to and has a great sense of humor, but he knows when it is time to lock in and when it is time to have fun.
Who is your go to guy among the assistant coaches?
Umm, shoot... if I had to pick one I guess it would be Jeff Capel. I mean he recruited me and we had the greatest relationship out of all the coaching staff. So, that is someone I can go to when I have problems.
What are the coaches emphasizing?
The biggest thing they are telling me is I've got to run. The game is a lot faster than it was in high school. It is more so like you just have to go out there and play and not over think the game because the ball is going to find the right person.
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The nation's top rated prospect in the Class of 2018, R.J. Barrett, has announced his decision date. Barrett will choose his collegiate destination on November the 10th of this year,
Much like current Duke player, Marvin Bagley, Barrett reclassified from his original 2019 class and still remained the top rated player. Barrett led his Canadian National team to a Gold Medal over Team USA this summer and is a can't miss prospect.
His decision is slated to happen in his home country of Canada with friends and family. Barrett will be able to sign a letter of intent for his decision date falls within the November national signing period which goes from the 8th until the 15th.
Barrett can score in multiple ways on the court and is a versatile athlete. He is a game changer for whichever team lands his services.
Duke most recently had an in home official visit with Barrett. Most consider the Blue Devils a favorite to land the outstanding talent with Kentucky just behind. Oregon is also recruiting the 6-7 Barrett.
Barrett visited Duke for his official visit last month and reports say that visit went well. There is always a possibility he could move the date of his decision but it will likely come on a signing day show if it remains as is.
If the Blue Devils were to gain his services, he would join point guard Tre Jones and WF Cameron Reddish to make up a dynamic trio in Durham.
Duke is also considering other top rated players in the class and will entertain a bevy of prospect for the upcoming Countdown to Craziness.
Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have been getting their share of top rated stars by getting them to the NBA in short order. Duke had three first round draft picks a season ago and will have more this season where mass defections are expected.
For more on Barrett, check out Blue Devil Nation Premium where we discuss recruiting in more detail.
Duke freshmen point guard, Trevon Duval, is in a race to get better before the season starts. The athletically talented young man will be given the keys to drive the team from day one. Duval is learning how to play with a lot of talent around him and to be a better distributor to his teammates.
So, what is up so far this year? I know you are glad to be here and are looking forward to playing against somebody other than Duke players.
It's fun being here on the Duke campus and playing with all these great players, And yeah, you're right, it does get tiring playing against just your teammates, so I am very excited for the season.
There is a lot of pressure for a freshmen -- having the ball in your hands from day one, Krzyzewski says he likes what he sees right now, but that he will like what he sees down the road a bit even better, Talk about how you will go about handling that.
I am kind of starting off new as a freshman this year. As time goes on I am going to get better. I am learning a lot of from Coach (K), Grayson (Allen) and a lot of the older players, so in a couple of weeks from now I am going to be a lot better and smarter with the ball.
I followed you in high school, so I know you're a very explosive player. And you are playing on a team with a lot of explosive guys. What is it going to be like to play point guard with that many weapons and guys who can all throw down dunks?
It's going to be a lot of fun. It is going to be a lot of fun with a lot of highlight reels and a lot of fastbreaks. We are very long and athletic and that is going to get a lot of stops on defense and lead to a lot of highlights.
Trevon, how would you describe your game in your own words, if you were scouting yourself?
I would say play maker, especially on this team -- a play maker for everyone, get everybody shots and make everyone around me better. Taking and making my shots when I can.
Obviously, you are going to be playing a lot with Grayson Allen and Gary Trent. What has it been like playing with those guys?
I love playing with both of them, honestly. They make the game a lot easier for me. Whenever I drive, they help me out for there is an easy kick and it is pretty much automatic for both of them. So, playing with them, I will hopefully get a lot of assists.
The Duke Basketball team held their media day this afternoon. I was fortunate enough to talk to incoming freshmen, Marvin Bagley III one on one as the event started. I would be later followed by ESPN the magazine who is doing an article on him in the near future. Shortly thereafter, the media throng descended upon him
So the Q & A ahead will not be what you are seeing in the various videos which will come out in the next couple of days.
So, how has life been since you've been on campus?
It's been great. Meeting new people and seeing more and more of the school I didn't see before. I am just enjoying taking it all in one day at a time and I am having fun while doing it.
What other players have impressed you the most on this team?
Everybody. Everybody is working together. We're still trying to figure out each other but I am impressed with how hard we've been playing. We still have a way to go but it is coming together for us, so I'm really excited at how good we can be.
What has been the biggest adjustment for you so far?
The speed. The speed of the game. It's a lot different from high school basketball. With me just getting in and learning different plays and things, I have to learn it on the fly and fast. So that is one thing I'm adjusting to, but I am doing a good job, I think, so I just have to keep it going.
I guess it has been kind of cool having family around with your Dad being from Durham?
Oh yeah. It's been real good seeing them and family is always important to me.
What has Coach K's message been to you so far?
Just play together. Take what we do individually and try to mold it into one team. It is not I, it is we. He just wants us to keep playing hard and together and make the game easier.
You guys are itching to play against somebody other than one another, right?
(Emphatic laugh) Yeah. We are definitely ready.
Who do you go up most against in practice?
We are switching up all the time, but I usually go up against Wendell (Carter), Marques, JRob...I may even guard a smaller guy, so we are always switching it up a little bit and that is what makes the game so fun and exciting.
What assistant coaches have been working with you the most?
Coach Nate (James), Coach (Jeff) Capel. They have been doing stuff with me before practice and watching some film after and stuff. I am working on my mid range game and a lot of different stuff.
You will likely drift out to the three-point line I assume, or do you think that will happen?
I mean I'm just going to take what the game gives me. I work on that stuff, I work on my threes and everything else. So, if I get the chance in the game to take that shot, I will take it. They just told me to do what I do, play hard and just play the game and don't think. So, whenever I get a shot I will take it.
Have you ever played on a team with this many big guys? I mean that has to be sort of a luxury. Will it be hard for you guys to figure each other out?
Yeah, it is my first time actually playing with multiple big guys. So it is an adjustment for me personally. I am going to be out on the wing a lot now and just being able to switch it up more. That is one thing I am excited about -- expanding my game to the wing and becoming an all around player. To be able to have enough big guys to allow me to do that is amazing.
Will you get out in the passing lanes more, trying to use your length?
Yeah, just playing the game. Getting a jump on the ball and getting hands on the ball...just trying to play basketball and get steals and go the other way and get some easy buckets.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
(Slight pause for thought) I am just looking forward to my first game. My first game ever in Cameron is exciting for me. I think about that every day. Just being able to go out there and finally play against somebody else and play together. I am really looking forward to that.
How do you guys get along off the court. Are you guys pretty tight?
Oh yeah. Off the court, everybody are brothers. As people say we are the brotherhood. Off the court we hang out and laugh with each other and play NBA 2-K.
Just being able to be a college student you learn. You see a lot of different things being in college.
You played with Chris Paul. Some people assume you can just waltz in here and everything is easy for you. What has been the hardest thing for you?
Just practices. We practice all the time and really hard. It is way different from high school but it is at a very different speed everyday. So, you just have to drink a lot of water and make sure your body is right.
You got the Slam magazine cover recently. Is that kind of cool? How does than make you feel, overall?
It's a blessing being able to see my face on a magazine. I am lost for words, but at the end of the day I can't let it get to me. There are bigger things I am trying to accomplish and I understand that. My focus is on coming out here and doing whatever I can to help this team win.
One last thing. Your Dad has always been able to keep you grounded. He has had this whole thing mapped out. He won;t let you let, you, how can I say this -- get a big head. I think a lot of people are surprised when they talk to you how down to earth you are and the focus you have on the big picture.
It's all bigger than this -- bigger than basketball. Basketball is going to end some day, so I just have to stay humble and while I can, play this game.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media today. The vast majority of the questions and answers were directed at the latest happenings in college basketball. That being the situation with shoe camps and assistant coaches caught in scandals.
Since you will be reading about that pretty much everywhere within a few hours, I will concentrate on the few things he said about this years team.
"We have had a few practices that have gone well. The whole fall and summer we have been pretty much injury free. We made a lot of changes in how we were going to condition and test and that has gone real well and we're in good shape. The only kid who has had a little bit of a problem is Javin (DeLaurier) who had a little bit of an issue with his hamstring on Saturday.
We will keep him out. We will practice today, tomorrow and Thursday and then there is Fall Break for our school and we will have off until next Tuesday evening. We will keep Javin out until then. He's been a big surprise, he has had a great off-season.
I'm pleased with out team -- we are not a team yet. We are a much different team than last year because we are big. We are very big and athletic. We normally have this plethora of shooters, but probably, well, we don't have that many. We will not be the outside shooting force we have in previous years. But hopefully we will be an outstanding rebounding team and defensive team while playing up and down the court.
Our freshman just need to communicate with one another. They get along with each other off the court, not that they do not on the court. But communication ...reinforcing the roles of others is a very difficult thing to teach a young player. There mind (as a freshmen) is more inward than outward. So the more we can adjust that the more communication we will have.
I am in good shape, I am 7 weeks out from my knee replacement. I am not where I am going to be but I am really good. I have done two rehabs a day for two weeks.
On his Defense with a Big Team
"One of the things we are doing right now is trying to learn about our guys. Instead of putting them into an old system, it takes time to figure our guys out. Obviously, if we went real big, it lends itself if we play zone. If you had Bolden, Wendell and Bagley in and we will at certain times or starting. "
"What does that do? How do you play them offensively. We are still going to play man but we can do some zone and that is a very big zone. Whether you play them with Trevon and Grayson or Grayson and Gary, I think this will be a unique process of seeing what we can do. I think this will very much be a developing team and when I say that it is not a cop-out. Are we suppose to win right away? So, be it. But who we are right...and who we can be...I think we will keep getting better as the season goes on."
On being so young
It means that players who have played little and are sophomores need to be empowered to express the culture. Because, they know it but do not have the credibility of playing time but do have the credibility of being here. And out managers and staff will be a part of that. Team building things we did in the off-season help with that. There could be some team slippage x's and o's wise or culture wise. The fabric of a junior-senior season team is hard to replicate and we have to adapt and figure out how to win and keep up our standards.
On Grayson Allen
"One, you can only vote for a senior, K says laughing. He deserves the opportunity to lead. Often times the best leader is the one who has gone through the most experiences. I think it a tremendous opportunity for him and the guys. He's in great shape (knocks on wood - really) and he is playing lights out basketball right now."
He's as good an athlete as we have. To get back to this...it does not mean that every kid who leaves high school has to go pro straight away to get there. I think Javin will eventually be a pro. It is just the process of becoming that will take longer. He is long, 6-9, 230 and he is a really good athlete who has become a really good rebounder. He eats up the court when he runs and he can defend multiple positions. We could have him out on the perimeter or he could be one of our bigs. He has earned it. I don't want to say we have five starters but he is in that group that can play significant minutes this season.
Duke has a visit from 5-Star shooting guard Joey Baker this weekend and he left campus with an offer. The 2019 rising star plays high school hoops for Trinity Christian Academy in Fayetteville, N.C.
Baker is already a productive player at his age, meaning he will only get better as he matures. At 6-7 he can shoot over smaller defenders via the pull up jumper or he can launch the three point shot with the best of them.
He understands spacing at an early age and how to maintain good motion on the offensive end. He is considered the best player in the state of North Carolina in his class and is a consensus 5 star rated player in national rankings.