Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke Hoops Signs Talented Class


DURHAM, N.C. –
 Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski has announced the signing of six future Blue Devils during the NCAA's early-signing period. The class is ranked No. 2 according to ESPN, which would give Duke's signing classes a top-two ranking in each of the last seven seasons.

Jaemyn BrakefieldHenry Coleman III, Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, D.J. Steward and Mark Williams will enter the Duke program for the 2020-21 season. Duke's previous top-ranked classes in the ESPN 100 came in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, while the 2016 and 2019 classes were ranked No. 2.

Jaemyn Brakefield – 6-8 – 215 – Forward – Jackson, Miss. – Huntington Prep (W.Va.)

  • A five-star power forward
  • Ranked as the No. 23 overall player in ESPN 100's rankings for the class of 2020
  • Ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of West Virginia and the No. 5 player at his position in the ESPN 100
  • Played for Team Phenom University in the EYBL with fellow Duke signee Jalen Johnson and averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists last summer with two double-doubles
  • Committed to Duke on October 4, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over Louisville, Michigan and Auburn, among others

Henry Coleman III – 6-7 – 210 – Forward – Richmond, Va. – Trinity Episcopal School

  • A four-star power forward
  • Ranked as the No. 42 player overall in ESPN 100's rankings for the class of 2020
  • Also ranked as the No. 5 player in the state of Virginia and the No. 8 at his position in the ESPN 100
  • Averaged 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds this past summer on the Nike EYBL circuit for Team Loaded
  • Is senior class president at Trinity Episcopal School
  • Committed to Duke on September 27, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over Michigan, NC State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State, among others

Jalen Johnson – 6-8 – 215 – Forward – Glendale, Wisc. – IMG Academy (Fla.)

  • A five-star small forward
  • Ranked as the No. 4 overall player in ESPN 100's rankings for the class of 2020
  • Ranked No. 1 in the state of Florida and No. 1 at his position in the ESPN 100
  • Led Nicolet HS in Glendale, Wisc., to a state championship last season before transferring to IMG Academy for his senior campaign
  • Played for Team Phenom University in the EYBL with fellow Duke signee Jaemyn Brakefield and averaged 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists last summer with five double-doubles
  • Committed to Duke on July 4, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin, among others

Jeremy Roach – 6-2 – 180 – Guard – Leesburg, Va. – Paul VI HS

  • A five-star point guard
  • Ranked as the No. 15 player overall in ESPN 100's ranking for the class of 2020
  • Also ranked second in the state of Virginia and ranked third overall at his position in the ESPN 100
  • Missed his junior season of high school (ACL)
  • Played for Team Takeover in the Nike EYBL and averaged 6.6 points and 3.1 assists in the summer of 2018
  • Has won a pair of gold medals with USA Basketball – at the 2017 FIBA Americas U-16 and the 2018 FIBA U-17 World Cup
  • Was the starting point guard for the U-17 team and averaged 6.4 points and 2.7 assists
  • The first five-star player in the class of 2020 to announce his commitment, committing to Duke on May 8, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over Kentucky, North Carolina and Villanova, among others

D.J. Steward – 6-3 – 175 – Guard – Chicago, Ill. – Whitney Young HS

  • A five-star combo guard
  • Ranked as the No. 26 player overall in ESPN 100's ranking for the class of 2020
  • Also ranked second in the state of Illinois and ranked seventh overall at his position in the ESPN 100
  • Averaged 24.1 points and shot 41 percent from three-point range in the summer of 2019 for Team MeanStreets on the Nike EYBL circuit
  • Attended the same high school as former Blue Devil Jahlil Okafor
  • Committed to Duke on September 18, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over North Carolina, Louisville, Indiana and Texas, among others

Mark Williams – 7-0 – 230 – Center – Norfolk, Va. – IMG Academy (Fla.)

  • A four-star center
  • Ranked as the No. 30 overall player in ESPN 100's rankings for the class of 202
  • Ranked No. 4 in the state of Florida and as the No. 5 center in the ESPN 100
  • Played three years at Norfolk Academy before transferring to IMG Academy for his senior season
  • On the Nike EYBL circuit, played for Team Boo Williams and averaged 14.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, while shooting 64 percent from the field
  • Improved his numbers to 23.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 76 percent shooting at the Peach Jam
  • His older sister, Elizabeth, played for Duke from 2011-15 and now plays for the WNBA's Atlanta Dream
  • Committed to Duke on November 2, 2019
  • Chose the Blue Devils over UCLA and Michigan, among others.

Random Duke Hoops Thoughts – Empire Edition

A few notes on Duke Hoops going into the 2K Empire Classic.

Vernon Carey Efficiency

Vernon Carey Jr is connecting on 62% of his shots this early season. He scored a career-high of 20 points in the Blue Devils win over Georgia State. More importantly, Carey has recorded back to back double-doubles. Carey is still learning to play inside, but the versatile young big man is capable of taking his game to another level if recent success in the paint continues.

Cal -- Better Than Advertised

The Golden Bears were picked towards the bottom of the Pac-12 this season but Cal comes into the Duke game 4-0. First year coach Mark Fox already has the program going in the right direction and they own an early win over UNLV. The Bears are led by a tough sophomore shooting guard in Matt Bradley (20.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Duke holds a 1-2 all time mark versus the Bears. One of the more deflating Duke upset losses in history came against the Jason Kidd led Cal team in the NCAA Tournament.

2K Empire Classic Past

Duke is no stranger to this event where the Blue Devils are 10-2. The only two losses the first two games against Stanford and Connecticut in 1999. There were a lot of questions after the 0-2 start but Duke rebounded to go 29-5 on the season. The Blue Devils are 10-0 since that time in what was called the Coaches vs Cancer Classic when the tournament started.

Duke Labeled a 19 Point Favorite

The Blue Devils have been tabbed a 19.5 favorite in tonight's game with Cal which tips at 9:00 on ESPN 2.

If Duke Wins

If the Blue Devils defeat Cal tonight, they would then face the winner of Georgetown (3-1) and #22 Texas (4-0). Some familiar names on the two possible opponents are Omer Yurtseven who transferred from N.C. State and is leading the Hoyas in scoring and rebounding. Texas leading scorer is Matt Coleman III whom Duke kicked the wheels on for a good time on the recruiting front. Texas is a 6.5 favorite over Georgetown coached. Shaka Smart who coaches the Longhorns once led Virginia Commonwealth to an upset win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament.

Duke is ranked #1

The Duke Blue Devils have moved into the top spot in the new poll. This marks the 20th season a Mike Krzyzewski coached team has been ranked in the top spot.

The next closest coach to that mark in history is John Wooden of UCLA with 12.

Since the 1997-98 season, Duke No. 1 in the A.P. poll 88 weeks which is 49 more times than their closest competitor, rival North Carolina.

When Krzyzewski hits the court in New York for the 2K Empire Classic this Thursday evening, he will have coached the nation's top-rated team for the 251st time in his Duke career.

1 - Duke

2 - Louisville

3 - Michigan State

4 - Kansas

5 - North Carolina.

The Duke Offense is Coming Along

One of the concerns for this season's edition of Duke Basketball was where would the offense come from. Last year, it was clear that Duke was led by two of the NBA's top three draft picks in Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski while running an immensely successful program is quick to tell you that he handles each team differently. That means there is no preferred system from yeat to year.

At some point in the pre-season, the hall of fame coach will gather his assistant coaches and come up with a game plan for their rostered players.

It is obvious that this year's team does not have two alpha dogs which will lead the team in scoring. The plan this year is for Duke to get all of their rostered players prepared to score the ball.

So far, the aforementioned plan is working. Duke has only played three games but it has become clear that a different player could lead the team in scoring on a given night.

Matthew Hurt came off the bench for the first time to lead the team in scoring with a current career-high of 19 points in the win over Central Arkansas.

In the win over Colorado State, Cassius Stanley led the way with 19 points. And in the opening night win over Kansas Tre Jones led the way with 15 points. The sample size after three games points to early success in creating a new offense

The Blue Devils have had four, five and then six players in double-figure scoring during the 3-0 start. Surprisingly, to date, Duke has had little trouble finding points on the offensive end.

Krzyzewski said in the pre-season that he would play more players as well. Many scoffed at that comment in that he has in the past gotten down to a core group of players he trusts.

But many who did not believe what they were hearing had not covered some of the early years Krzyzewski coached Duke teams. And while playing time may lead to a shortened bench at crunch times in close games to come, it is clear that there is not enough separation by players to not continue to see Duke using more players than some are accustomed to seeing.

In a sense, this new trend will not allow for opponents to focus on any one player. And that is a positive as the team gets more accustomed to one another.

And if you have not figured it out by now, it is clear that Duke has no set starters past Tre Jones and that we will see a lot more combinations in the coming days before ACC play begins in earnest.

Duke is still very much a work in progress, but Krzyzewski focussed a lot of effort on his team's defense knowing the offense would come as the season progressed.

The defense has been good thus far and some of that comes from playing more players. It means, legs remain fresh and his players can go all out when playing. But more importantly, it allows for the offense to develop its identity.

While there is still plenty of work to do for this team to become all it can be, Krzyzewski has had a good start to his staff's vision. But make no mistake, there will be challenges and more adjustments along the way.

Duke is a very young team with some veterans helping the young guys along. With a win over Georgia State this Friday as the 2K Empire Classic continues, Duke will likely be the new number one rated team in the polls. That will open a whole new can of worms and teaching opportunities for the staff in how to handle the hype which comes with the honor.

Duke Rolls Past Central Arkansas

The Duke Blue Devils moved to 3-0 on the season with a 105-54 victory over Central Arkansas in the opening game of the 201 2K Empire Classic.

Duke jumped out to a 21-5 lead at the 12:40 mark of the first half where Duke freshman Matthew Hurt drained two three points to help lead the surge. Hurt ended the game with a career-high 19 points.

That lead grew after the Bears called a timeout to 25-5 as the Duke defense suffocated their opponent to 18% from the field at that point. It would not get much better for Central Arkansas which fell to 1-3 on the season.

By the half, Duke on a near-perfect display of basketball where they took a 57-20 lead.

Duke point guard Tre Jones took a hard fall at the 7:57 mark and went to the Duke bench with just over seven minutes left in the half and did not return. Jones posted 7 points and 2 assists and sat due to the lopsided Duke lead and precaution.

After the game, Krzyzewski said Jones was joking about and should be ready to go for Friday's game.

The Blue Devils came out a tad sluggish in the second half and one could see Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yell, "Come on," to try and keep his team's intensity up. In fact, a timeout was called where the hall of fame coach showed his team how they were running up and down the court in an attention-getting manner.

Duke was up 67-30 when that happened and it was clear that Krzyzewski was looking for intensity while teaching a young team how to close games out.

Cassius Stanley continued his torrid play early in the season scoring the next 5 points. Stanley would finish the game with 13 points.

Duke was so dominant in the first half it was hard to keep the intensity going. But the Blue Devils responded to Krzyzewski encouraging them to close the game out which led to the 51 point win.

Vernon Carey recorded his first double-double in a Duke uniform with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Duke placed six players in double figures and held their opponent to 36% shooting. The Blue Devils also 14 steals and 26 points off turnovers.

Duke will return to the court for a 7:00 tip off with Georgia State this Friday. A Duke win would likely lead to another #1 ranking with the Kentucky loss earlier in the evening to Evansville.

Cassius Stanley Can Ball

Perhaps the number given to Cassius Stanley's was a hint that he could play. The California freshman who led Duke in scoring with 19 points against Colorado State dons number two for the Blue Devils.

A quick look at Blue Devils past shows that some good players have worn #2 over the years. A season ago the number belonged to Cam Reddish and Gary Trent Jr. before that. You can trace the number back to two national champions in Quinn Cook and Nolan Smith as well.

Whether the number assigned to Stanley has anything to do with his ability or not, after just two games he's shown he is more than capable of handling a starting nod on the 2019-20 Blue Devils.

The Los Angeles native has had immediate success on the court this season. Stanley was wonderfully efficient in the Duke win over Colorado State. The self-proclaimed LeBron James and Lakers fan, went 8-11 from the field for his 19 points,

But Stanley is more than just instant offense. A quick look at the box score shows he grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds and added a blocked shot for good measure in 25 minutes of play.

His play was noticed by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who lauded his newcomer during his post game press conference. The long-time Duke leader called Stanley's two opening games outstanding -- high praise indeed.

Duke won a defensive slug-fest against Kansas and Stanley scored 13 points in that game on 5 of 6 shooting. He also played 30 minutes, the second-most on the team.

You can already see that Krzyzewski wants Stanley on the court. And the reason for that is his efficiency. One of the most telling stats was the fact Stanley committed 4 turnovers against Kansas only to cut that down to zero in the win over the Rams.

Stanley has the potential to be a solid on-ball defender as well. He gets his hands on the ball and has stayed with his man in the 2-0 Duke start to the season.

It's also clear that Stanley likes to run the court and his two baskets against Kansas on the break were game-changing. Despite the early success, Stanley is still learning the Duke system and getting better as a player.

We have yet to see the finished product with concern to Stanley. But it is clear that he will play a vital roll on this year's team. The one thing which is evident early on is that Cassius Stanley can ball. And that is great news for this year's Duke team.