Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke Guard Matt Jones Talks Off Season Work

 

SONY DSCLike most freshman, Matt Jones had both good and trying moments during his freshman season at Duke.  The Texan native showed flashes of a bright future a season ago, playing good defense, but also hit that so-called freshman wall as the year wore on.  Jones has been working out ever since the Blue Devils unexpected early NCAA exit and he hopes that work and added maturity advances his game to where he is a key contributor on a team which should have a deep and strong backcourt.  Blue Devil nation recently caught up to Jones for a brief chat -

What have you been doing since the season ended?

I was able to go home and spend some time with family and get some familiar faces around me and get my mind right for the upcoming season.

What will you be doing this summer? Any camps or things planned?

I am actually going to go back home and be around my family where I will be working out with my trainer Jerome and get my body right.

Who is Jerome and how does he come into play here?

He’s my shooting coach. He talks to me about basketball related stuff and off the court things as well.

Coach Krzyzewski recently addressed the media. One of the things he mentioned was the fact that you and Semi Ojeleye are older players now and that you could both contribute.

Last year my maturity definitely got to me. I was, like he said a problem of the freshman wall but overall, I’m at a good place now with basketball and my mentality to the game. I’ve been doing it now for a year and I’ and more aware m now a sophomore of what goes on and things like that, so as for going into next year, I am prepared.

You came into school early a season ago and it seemed as if you really concentrated on your defense in order to play early. I know Coach K has said in the past that you had a good defensive coach who taught the fundamentals. Anyhow, am I right in that?

I always felt I could play defense. And yes, going back to high school my coach relayed the message to play “D.” So coming in, it wasn’t so much something I worked on, it’s just something I’ve always done.

Talk about what you feel you role could be on this years team. I know the coaches are still going over that and evaluating the roster, but have they shared anything with you there?

I feel like I can be a leader, but role wise I just want to be a good player and do what they ask of me.

You were a friend  and teammate of Julius Randle who will be in the upcoming NBA draft. Have to him since his decision?

Yeah, I hung out with him a little bit at home before I got back here, so we are definitely close and I am just happy for him that he can pursue his dreams.

So, you sort of needed a fresh break?  Was that the reason you went home?

Yes sir, to see familiar faces. I will head back home this coming Monday after the Academy and I will return on the 27th and when I come back it will be time to go to work.

What do you think about new assistant Jon Scheyer and Capel who K said would take on a huge role this year?

Well, Capel recruited me so there is a bond there. And Scheyer? He was somebody I could go to and talk to last year with my immaturity issue and he’s ben through it, so he was able to help me keep my spirit up

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announcementThis is just to let you all know that we are making a major move today. Our servers will be moving to a new web host, which we expect to bring you much improved performance and reliability.  We are also implementing new membership software, which should provide a smoother integration with Paypal for processing and posting payments.

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Duke Basketball Recruiting Update – AAU season begins

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]

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Future ACC Slate Announced for Duke Basketball

NC State v DukeWe will be three seasons into the new ACC 18 game schedule this coming year and today the league announced two years of future schedules.

Before we go further here is the slate for the coming season -

Duke 2014-15
Home/Road: North Carolina, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Notre Dame
Home: Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Boston College
Road: Florida State, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville

Louisville joins the league this year and Duke will travel to play the Cards with no return date, much like a season ago when Pitt entered the league.

The Blue Devils will also visit Virginia without a return date to balance out their single home game in the series this year. And they also travel to Florida State for a single game.

The three aforementioned games is a tough draw in that Louisville and Virginia are expected to be upper division teams while the Noles return a solid nucleus while adding help from the junior college ranks, making them one of the more sure picks for the upper division in my view.

As always, Duke takes on it’s most storied rival against North Carolina and once again we have dual games with Syracuse, which is not only one of the leagues best new match ups, but the nations.

The Blue Devils will also play Notre Dame home and home for the first time this season and Wake is the other school they have a home and home schedule with.

Also announced was the 2015-16 slate which is as follows -

Duke 2015-16

Home/Road: North Carolina , Wake Forest , NC State, Louisville

Home: Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Notre Dame

Road: Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Boston College

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Landing Sean Obi, a Big Deal for Duke

obiAfter 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