Duke sophomore Grayson Allen was named ACC Player of the Week during the very first week of the season. While we are just two games into the season, Allen is building off his National Championship game a season ago. Here are some facts on Grayson James Allen -
Allen's 54 points in the opening two games is one point shy of the all time highest Duke mark which was set by Johnny Dawkins.
Allen set his career high scoring mark against Byant where he tallied 28 points.
Allen set a career high mark in assists with six against Bryant.
Allen roomed with Luke Kennard over the summer but he now lives with Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee.
Allen was named ACC Player of the Week for the first time during the first week of the season.
Allen was picked to the 2nd Team Pre Season All Atlantic Coast Conference Team.
Allen has knocked down an impressive 17 of 18 free throw attempts to start the season.
Allen leads the Duke team in assists to date with 4.0 per contest.
Allen wore size 17 athletic shoes while in high school.
Allen sought out Duke to take a look at him on the recruiting trail while at the Peach State Classic.
The event was held at the same time as the Nike EYBL Peach Jam. While Duke coaches were unable to get over the to the event that week, assistant coach Nate James watched him shortly thereafter.
James passed on what he saw to Mike Krzyzewski and after he had a look.
Duke set up an in home visit where Coach Krzyzewski, current Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski and Jeff Capel visited the Allen home in Jacksonville, Florida.
Allen told Blue Devil Nation during the NBA Top 100 Camp that he prayed after the visit, "I just had a feeling Duke was where I wanted to go and after thinking and praying on it, I made the call," stated Allen.
Allen soared in the recruiting rankings after he committed to Duke.
Allen went on to win the McDonald's All American Dunk Contest.
The Duke Blue Devils opened their regular season with a 92-74 win over Siena on Friday night. Grayson Allen led Duke with 26 points to go with 5 rebounds. Allen sparked Duke in critical moments with dunks which shook the rafters of Cameron as the Blue Devils move to 1-0.
On how he thinks his team performed ...
I think we did pretty good for our first official game of the season with a young team, There is a lot we can improve on but we did pretty good. Tomorrow we'll review film and move on to Bryant.
On whether he was trying to attack the basket more aggressively -
Definitely. That's something I am always attempting to do -- attack, I was getting some opens to the rim tonight. Other nights there might be more kick outs.
On whether he knew how big dunks could lift his teammates and get Cameron Indoor Stadium rocking -
Definitely. You can feel the energy but at the same time (smiling) I can't expect to do something like that all the time. So I will need to find other ways to find energy and bring Cameron to life.
On his slow start in the exhibition game opener and if he'd talked to Coach Krzyzewski before breaking out in the opener ...
Yeah, I played really poorly in the first exhibition game and I had a talk with coach (Krzyzewski) about it and move on from it. Coach is always talking to us about moving on to the next play.
When asked if he was putting pressure on himself with so much pre season attention ...
I wouldn't say that. I don't feel any pressure from outside. For me I would expect myself to have improvements from last year coming into the season and other people expect that too,
On the reason he started slow ...
I wasn't having as much fun. I wasn't talking and I need to be doing all those things. I was just too serious and trying too hard. This is a game I love so I don't have to worry about coming out here trying too hard.
The college basketball season is upon us. The Duke Blue Devils get things underway with back to back games starting Friday with Siena and ending with Bryant on Saturday evening. Due to the close proximity of these games, we take a look at both contests.
A season ago, Siena was picked pre season 2nd in the MAAC but injuries derailed high hopes and they finished in the bottom four of their league. This season the Saints are once again picked 2nd in the MACC, the reason being that Brett Bisping and Imah Silas are healthy. Unlike the Blue Devils two exhibition opponents, the Saints front line will present a challenge. Led by the aforementioned Bisping, Imah Silas and the now eligible Javion Ogunyemi, the Saints are quite formidable up front. The Siena backcourt will be led by Marquis Wright who will be leaned upon to get the ball in the paint to a talented trio. Ryan Oliver will likely get the start at the shooting guard spot for the Saints against Duke.
What to expect
The Siena front court can challenge Duke in the paint and likely will at times on Friday evening. However, unless the Saint get some open looks from three point line and knock them down, they will have little hope of derailing the Blue Devils. Look for Duke to try to pressure the Saints in this contest while trying to get their running game going which should not allow the Saints to sit back in a tight zone. Getting some points off the break will be key for Duke as will solid rebounding to make this happen. Duke wins this game for sure in my opinion but the players will likely see that the regular season is a far cry from the previous two exhibition games in terms of competitiveness.
Duke will have little time to move on to their next opponent this weekend as they take on Bryant in a Saturday evening in a game scheduled to tip off at 8:00. The Bulldogs are picked 3rd in the NEC, due to a nucleus of three players. They will be led by All Conference performer Dan Garvin who helped lead his team to a 12-6 league mark a season ago. Bosko Kostur and Shane McGlaughlin will also be key contributors and they both have solid game experience. Expect het Bulldogs to lean heavily on the three aforementioned players in that they lost two double figure scorers off last years team.
What to expect
I expect Duke to employ a similar strategy as they do against Siena. The team will look to get out and run for a reason as I will mention shortly. Expect Duke to come away with a 2-0 record when the dust clears having played a lot of players and combinations. The staff is still very much learning this years team and Bryant will be a dress rehearsal before Duke takes on Kentucky on Tuesday evening. Let me be clear in saying that both Siena and Bryant are solid teams in their leagues and each could wake the Blue Devils up to early season weaknesses.
Looming Giant ...
Make no mistake that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski will not allow his team to look ahead. But the rest of the world cannot help to do so in that the game with Kentucky in Chicago looms. Duke is very young and they will be tested with three games in five days to start the season. Krzyzewski will use the two openers to teach various lessons and may well orchestrate certain situations to see how his team reacts. I think Duke will get out and run at times in the first two games in that Kentucky will press the Blue Devils with their line up. Anyhow, enough on that game for now.
The bottom line ...
Duke will learn more about themselves as a team by the end of Saturday evening. Make no mistake in thinking that Duke doesn't schedule teams who can challenge for their league each season. This is not Mike Krzyzeski's first rodeo and he knows how to make sure his team is tested.
The Duke-Siena game starts at 7:00 and will be televised by ESPNU. The Bryant game is slated for ESPN3 and is the only game Duke plays on that network all season long. ESPN3 presents a challenge to watch for some fans. That, coupled with the fact that this game will be after the Duke-Pitt football game in Wallace Wade will likely make this game a tougher ticket. Of course all Duke home games in Cameron have been sold out since a game with Boston Colelge in the pre season NIT many moons ago. Coach Mike Krzyzewski enters the season with an NCAA record 1018 career wins. Duke has been ranked 479 weeks in the Top Ten under his watch. Should Duke Senior Captain Amile Jefferson earn All ACC Academic honors this season, he will be the first player to do so all four years. Duke has won 30 or more games in four of the past five seasons which is one incredible achievement.
The maturation of a player in the Duke Basketball program is always an ongoing process. One of the freshman who will be brought along in the system this season is Chase Jeter. He most recently had a solid exhibition game in his last outing where he was an efficient 5 of 5 from the field while garnering 11 rebounds.
After his performance, Jeter did what is sure to make the staff happy in that he first pointed to his teammates. "I can only attribute my play to my teammates. They get after me each day in practice so it's all about the well-being of the team for me," stated the newcomer from California.
With the absence of Amile Jefferson who had an ankle injury, Jeter had a chance to step up on the front line. It's a well-known fact around Duke Basketball that Mike Krzyzewski challenges his players to play big and that has been the case for Jeter when questioned on the tradition. "Yes, he challenges us to be big and that happened today in practice. We played 1-3-1 zone and guys have to play big and long.
Krzyzewski almost always shortens his bench as the season progresses and when asked if he thought he might be in that rotation Jeter answered, "You know, the thing with this team is everybody has such an important role. Guys have to be ready to get on the floor no matter what happens."
Jeter was ready in the Blue Devils most recent exhibition game win but there is still plenty to learn ahead for the talented freshman. It would seem he has the opportunity of steadying his role should he build off his last performance.
As for Chase Jeter's adjustment to Duke all seems fine. "This place is home, man. Coming out of high school I was ready to move on and start my life. North Carolina is a great place for me and Duke is a great place for me. I love it here", said Jeter.
West coast kids often face an adjustment but the Jeter family has already been able to see their son in action, "It's definitely tough at times with the schedule we have but my parents have already been able to come see me multiple times. It's great for them to come out here and show their support. I love my family and they do a great job," Jeter stated.
Jeter now has an extended family in Duke and this always helps a freshman with the as he adjusts to campus life and the academic and scheduling rigors at Duke. Like most newcomers. the speed of the game is one of the first hills to climb and that holds true with Jeter as well. "I am finally starting to adjust to the speed of the game now. being able to play fast, run transition and block guys out puts you in a better position to succeed on the floor."
There was one sequence in the game where Jeter stole the ball, turned his body and rammed home a dunk in one continuous motion. "That was just hustle, man. That's the thing we do. That's the thing we stress to bring the hustle and enthusiasm every game," said Jeter.
With the tutelage of fellow front court players in seniors Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee look for Jeter to continue to improve. One thing is certain after talking to Jeter, that being he is putting in the work to be ready when his opportunities come.
The Duke Blue Devils 2015-16 basketball campaign has yet to start. Despite that fact, it's hard not to look beyond this season if only for today. The reason being that once again the Blue Devils find themselves with another banner recruiting class. The consensus number one class in the nation will arrive on the Duke campus in July of 2016. Between now and then, there will be plenty of speculation for as many around the program exclaim, "Duke Basketball Never Stops."
Jayson Tatum 6-8, 205, Chaminade Prep, St. Louis, Missouri - Jayson Tatum announced his collegiate intentions on July 12, 2015 where he was the first player to commit to Duke in the Class of 2016. The St. Louis native chose Duke over Kentucky, North Carolina and St. Louis. Tatum is as good a small forward prospect as there has been in recent years. He can pretty much do it all from said position and he always plays with savvy and control. It's rare to see a super star prospect allow the game to come to him, yet Tatum can do this or be an aggressive player. Quite simply, Tatum is a can't miss prospect who will most certainly play in the NBA. It is worth noting that Tatum has extensive USA Basketball program experience and that he is friends and a former teammate of Harry Giles III. The chemistry between these two stand out players should be evident early on at Duke, as was last seasons class where Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winlsow were in a similar situation. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tatum has nothing to do with his basketball skills. Like many Duke entries, Tatum has immense character and is faith-based in his thoughts and decisions. While talking with Tatum during this past seasons Nike EYBL Finals it was clear to me that Tatum knew where he wanted to go to school where he seemed tired of the recruiting process. The next day with the Duke staff in place, Tatum chose the Blue Devils on ESPNU during the championship game. The signing of one of the nations elite players set the table for what was to come. Tatum is silky smooth on the court and in some respects has some throw back skills that differentiates his game from others. That allowed the young man to separate from the pack in the rankings as he progressed.
Frank Jackson 6-3, 195 - Lone Peak HS, Alpine Utah - Duke has a history of recruiting solid backcourt players under Mike Kryzewski and Frank Jackson fits that mode. Jackson gave Duke his verbal commitment on September 1, 2015 where he chose the Blue Devils over Arizona, UCLA and Utah, Many thought early on that Jackson would remain on the west coast but the chance to play for one of the countries red-hot programs helped the versatile star come East. Jackson has a game face. What I mean by that is when the ball is tipped you see his usual wide smile go away while noticing a controlled intensity to his game. Jackson is a scorer plain and simple, but he's also more than that. Jackson handles the ball well and is capable of running the point or the shooting guard position. Of course, Mike Krzyzewski will quickly tell you he has only players at Duke and no labels with concern to traditional posiitions. That will work to Jackson's benefit while in Durham as will his ability to get up in his opponents face on defense. Jackson most recently attended the USA Junior Mini Camp where he showed why he is one of the nations highest ranked prospects. The best way to describe Jackson is that he is a smooth operator on the court where he can weave through traffic or drain the outside shot.
Javin DeLaurier 6-9, 210 Saint Annes-Bellfield HS, Shipman, Va - The third prospect to commit to Duke was Javin DeLauriuer on September the 27, 2015. DeLaurier chose Duke over the likes of Arizona, Louisville, North Carolina and Texas to mention just a few of his many offers the young man had garnered. DeLaurier is listed as a power forward and he recently visited Duke where he loved the atmosphere on and off the court. There is nothing more exciting than to get a player who knows where he wants to play his college basketball and one whom selects the Blue Devils with certainty. DeLaurier is a player who continued to get better on the Adidas circuit where he blossomed in the Spring of this past year. A solid post presence would best described the balanced player who can score and rebound. One of the key factors in landing DeLaurier in Durham was his relationship with Duke Assistant Coach Nate James which has earned the staff praise from the Virginia native. Duke fans will like what they see in DeLaurier as he is a high energy player who never and I mean never takes plays off. It is also worth noting that like other prospects in the fold, DeLaurier immediately became a recruiter of other talent soon to arrive, namely Harry Giles.
Harry Giles 6-9, 230 Oak Hill Academy, From Winston Salem - Giles committed to Duke on November 6, 2015 to the delight of the vast Blue Devil Nation. With the addition of the nation's top prospect, the Duke class became the best in America. Giles is another sure-fire future NBA player, yet he remains grounded. Giles can be a beast on the court where he continues to grow into an impressive frame. I suppose we should start with his recent and unfortunate injury to his ACL which will be a set back for sure. But this is not the first time the future star has been injured and he is more than aware of the work ahead to achieve his dreams. Giles ultimately chose Duke over Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. He always liked Duke due to relationships with the staff that were in place since his sophomore season. The consistency in which Duke recruited him won out in the end as did his close relationship with Jayson Tatum. As impressive as Giles is when not on the court, his game is just flat-out awesome. He can control a game and intimidate his opponents with an unrivaled skill set. Duke will bring Giles along slowly but there is perhaps no better situation for him with concern to his rehabilitation. It will be interesting to see how Duke uses Giles upon his return where he will indeed be a center piece in their future plans.
The potential cohesiveness - What Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is getting on signing day is a major influx of talent. Duke can literally pencil in three of the young men on the front court if need be while allowing Frank Jackson to orchestrate the team. Of course, Duke has plenty of talent already in place and with that said the future requires some serious UV blocking sun glasses. All in all, the four prospects are a cohesive fit.
Worth noting - Duke is still recruiting Marques Bolden, a true post presence. The staff made the Texas native a priority during the Nike EYBL Finals. Only time will tell how things go with Bolden who is one of the top players left on the board who has yet to commit.
There is no doubt that Coach Mike Krzyzewski brings fire to recruiting, but it also takes an assist from a cool customer. Enter Duke Associate Head Coach Jeff Capel. The two coaches bring fire and ice to on the recruiting trail.
While Coach Krzyzewski oozes with hot intensity with his love for the game and coaching passion, Capel adds a cool approach which translated into solid relationships with key prospects.
"Jeff built a great relationship with Harry and that was key," Oak Hill assistant coach Cory Alexander said after today's Harry Giles to Duke announcement on ESPN.
Capel is no stranger to recruiting battles and he played a key role in landing many of the current players not to mention those departed more recently top the NBA. In fact he beat out his college coach for the services of Blake Griffin who now stars with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Duke has now gained the service of the last two seasons consensus top rated players in the county. They had the top recruiting class a season ago and are there again this season.
The Blue Devils have secured the services of Harry Giles and one of his closest friends in Jayson Tatum. And the two played together with USA Basketball where current Duke guard Derryck Thornton distributing the ball to them on many occasions.
The nation saw what continuity even amongst young players could do last season where the Blue Devils claimed their fifth National Championship banner under Krzyzewski.
Also coming is a steady scoring prospect who is also a hard-nosed defender named Frank Jackson. He will be joined by Javin DeLaurier a top rated power forward giving Duke quite a class to work with in the future. And the staff is not finished.
Duke is still recruiting a big time center prospect out of Texas in Marques Bolden. The Blue Devils chief competition may come from Kansas and Kentucky but a who's who of top rated schools are pursuing the post player with tremendous potential. It is also worth mentioning that during the recent Nike EYBL Finals, that they made Bolden a recruiting priority.
The Blue Devils have two other solid assistant coaches as well on the recruiting trail. One is a former player in Nate James known for his no nonsense toughness and desire. And then there is Jon Scheyer who is mature beyond his years now after joining the staff after and eye injury derailed his playing career.
In Scheyer, the players can relate to a guy that was just on the court a few years ago. Meanwhile, James can share many of his numerous experiences which include bringing the team together after a mass defection of talent to the league during his final season at Duke. Let me also mention that both of these coaches hold National Championship rings.
Young men know that one of the best places to grow as a man and learn the game is under Coach Mike Krzzyewski and his talented staff in Durham. They can point to all kinds of success while offering a top notch education to their four year players. Grand NBA type of facilities, educational support and a family atmosphere for life awaits those who will buy into what the program is doing.
It would be hard to argue with the current success on the recruiting trail that anybody other than Duke has the best staff in the country. This luxury along with changing with the times has allowed Krzyzewski and his staff to be in the most enviable position in all of college basketball at this present time.
Any time you have staff continuity and character in your coaches, it translates well on the recruiting trail. What fans and the on-looking many are currently seeing is the Zenith of the program. In short, things couldn't go much better.
The good news for Duke fans and bad news for the rest of the nation is that there is no immediate end in sight. Duke has already establish a base wish list for the season after Giles and company come to Duke.
I have never been one to talk about who might replace Mike Krzyzewski. At this rate we will see the coach at Duke for years to come provided those around him remain supportive and healthy. When a man does what he has great passion for, things more or less take care of themselves.
The next few years will be a fun time for the fan base and this is a testament to the Herculean effort that the Duke staff is putting in on the recruiting circuit.