Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke Assistant Coach Nate James talks of his camp and the coming basketball season

A.P. Duke Assistant Coach Nate James flushes a dunk during his playing days at Duke
A.P. Duke Assistant Coach Nate James flushes a dunk during his playing days at Duke

I had the opportunity to interview Nate James for the third year in a row to talk about his  basketball camp and, this year, about his first season as a coach.  James spoke of the challenges that lie ahead, his role on the team, a soon-to-be child, and more.  Nate strolled in still in tip-top shape, making it obvious that he still pumps iron.  James has always been known for his toughness and I took the opportunity to slip in a question designed to get his "Dogg" juices flowing.

If you are willing to sponsor a kid for his camp, you can do so through our site by contacting me at Admin@bluedevilnation.net or contact James directly in the link Nate James/Chris Carrawell Basketball Camp.

BDN greatly appreciates those who helped send the kids I work with in Roxboro, North Carolina, to last year's camp.  Be sure to mention that BDN sent you if you decide to send your kids there.  Enjoy the interview -

This is Mark Watson of Blue Devil Nation and I am sitting here with Duke Assistant Men's Basketball Coach, Nate James.  Nate, you have a camp coming up and we worked with you last year to send some kids, thanks to donations from readers of the Blue Devil Nation.  I am thankful that people stepped up to send Corey and Ridge (pictured in article) and those guys had  a good time.  Why don't you tell us about the James-Carrawell Camp.

It's a camp we've been doing at the Durham Academy the past four years and it's been a great thing for us and the community.  It's a way for us to give back to the community and the City of Durham and surrounding areas.  This is our home away from home.  Of course, I am from Maryland and Carrawell is from St. Louis, but I've been in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area for so long that I wanted to do this camp to give back to the kids.

If somebody wanted to send in some money for a scholarship, how would they do that?  I will gladly take donations through my site as we did last year, but if they didn't want to do that and instead go directly to you, how would they do that?

We have a website  - Nate James-Chris Carawell Basketball Camp - and you will find more information and the address.  Any amount is welcome, for every little bit helps the kids.  You can also contact us by phone and whatever you want to do, you can.  The last few years we've had a lot of people sponsoring some kids and it's been a big-time help and we are grateful for the support.  It's $200.00 per camper and if a kid can't afford the amount that goes to work with them,  be it a full or partial scholarship.  It's not just if a parent can;t afford it, it goes deeper than that.  It has to be a good kid, they have to be doing well in school, they have to be deserving and we have a program where they have to submit essays to really earn that scholarship.  It's been a good thing and we have had a lot of feedback and guarantee that your child will have a good time.

Let's talk about your first season as an assistant coach with Duke...

You really learn a lot and you are learning under the best coach in the business and tutored by the best associate head coaches in the business.  When I first came in I didn't know what my role would be, but Coach K tells us to follow our instincts and do what you do best and I know the game so I was able to lock in with a couple of the guys and teach them the game and what I know.  It was a terrific season for us.  I don't want to say we overachieved, but we won a lot of ball games and did a lot of things people didn't think we could do.

Duke obviously lost two very athletic and talented players in Elliot Williams and new Charlotte Bobcat, Gerald Henderson.  What are your thoughts on the team this upcoming season?  I mean, I know you guys never despair and Coach K always works on what he has and builds upon that.  Can you give me your thoughts on the coming season?

Obviously, when you lose two of your best athletes and your best player in Gerald Henderson going in the lottery at 12th, which is a good thing because he stays close to home and we can check some of his games out, but whenever you lose two good players it's tough.  Losing Elliot Williams due to some family issues where he wanted to go back home is tough.  We had hoped he would come in and fill some of that void Gerald left, but I spoke to the team and told them that it reminded me of the season everybody left for the NBA and people didn't think we were going to be very good.  Shane, Chris Carawell and myself took advantage of that possibility.  I took that as a chance to let the world know who I was, going from a 4 ppg scorer to 12 or 13 that year.  A lot for the players for this year's team ... I told them this is an opportunity to come in and let the world know who you are.  If you didn't get as much playing time as you wanted last year or your scoring average wasn't what you wanted it to be, you can now step up.  I think a lot of our players can step up and we look at this as a challenge just like that year we were predicted not to do so well and we ended  up winning the ACC regular season and tournament championship.

A lot of people forget that Nate James was the three point shooting contest winner at the McDonald's All American game.  What happened to that shot? [in jest]

What happened to my shot? [competitive nature came out]

Yeah, did Coach K say, "I'm not going to let Nate take the three at Duke?"

[Nate was like, "what are you talking about," with forehead crinkled and a serious look on his face]  I took a lot of threes.  That was my thing, you watch the film, you are going to see me shoot a lot of threes in that corner, we ran that patented LA offense.  With Jason coming off that top screen with Shane Battier and he'd either penetrate or kick it up top and if the draw wasn't there he would hit me in the corner, so it was definitely there.

Okay, I'm just kidding with you and wanted to see the juices flow. [smiling]

[smiling] Yeah, yeah.  Hey, thinking back on it I should have shot a lot more.  Anyway, I try to pass that on to the other guys.  We are going to need Kyle and Jon to shoot a lot of threes and our big guys need  to step up.  I think it's going to be a great season and a great opportunity for all those guys and we'll win a lot of ball games.

I know you can't talk about recruiting, but the future looks bright and you've been a part of that.  You will be out on the trail this week, right?

Yes, I will be leaving July 6th to hit the recruiting trail.  I will hit the LeBron James Camp up where I will get a chance to see who we are recruiting, but I won't be on the road too long this year.  My wife and I are expecting  a child, so I definitely cannot miss that  because that would be the end of Nate James. [smiling]  But I'm excited about everything that is going on this summer ... my camp, the recruiting trail, the birth of my first child.  It's been a great June and it's carrying over into July.

Congratulations from the Blue Devil Nation on the soon to be birth.  Boy or a girl?

A boy. [obvious glee of accomplishment on his face]

Okay, Nate junior!  So, will he be wearing the royal blue one day?

Well, I told my wife I won't push the game on him but if that is something he wants to pursue, I am going to give him all the tools he needs to be successful - only if he wants to play.  But if he does, I know he's going to be a bad boy, I already know. [wide grin].  His Dad wasn't a slouch and he's got the James name so he will not be a slouch either.  It's an exciting thing as anybody with kids knows out there.  I'm already a proud father-to-be and looking forward to seeing him in a couple of weeks.

Now [pause], how long before he's call the little dogg? [Nate's nickname in college was Nate "Dogg"]

[laughs] Well, we are still trying to figure out what we'll call him.  You know, I'm a junior so my family always called me little Nate and my wife is not a big fan of the third.  So, any suggestions out there, send them my way.

The hard nosed Nate James!  Thanks for your time and best of luck in all that you do.

Thanks.

BDN will have an article up later this week on two of the campers BDN supporters sent to the camp last season.

Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly show off their skill set in the N.C. Pro Am

Mason Plumlee, Kyle Singler and Miles Plumlee - copyright BDN Photo
Mason Plumlee, Kyle Singler and Miles Plumlee - copyright BDN Photo

The 2009 NC Pro Am kicked off tonight at North Carolina Central and Duke was represented by the Plumlee brothers, Kyle Singler and Ryan Kelly.  Players from all over the state compete in the event.  Those players could be in high school, college, retired or the pro's.  For instance, the Charlotte Bobcat's Sean May played tonight and Jerry Stackhouse and others will hit the floor before the event is over.

Ryan Kelly played in the first game and his team squeaked out a win in double overtime.  Kelly ended the night with 14 points.  Kelly set a lot of high picks, but he seldom got the ball back on the roll.  He had one key block to help send the game to overtime.  There was one sequence where Kelly had his shot blocked but recovered the ball to put in a jump shot.  On the next possession, Kelly threw down a dunk.

In a bit of irony, Mason Plumlee faced off against brother Miles Plumlee and his teammate Kyle Singler.  Much like last year, the refs seemed to have quick whistles on the Dukies, with all three collecting nine combined fouls in the first nine minutes of the game.  Most of those calls came late or from perceived contact.

Ryan Kelly - BDN Photo
Ryan Kelly - BDN Photo

The refs let the teams play in the second half and that made for an entertaining game where the lead exchanged hands several times.  Singler was his usual steady self in that he did pretty much everything on his way to 14 points.  As our premium members know, Singler will now head to the LeBron James Skills Academy to finish out the week.

His teammate Miles Plumlee scored 6 points and showed a good handle with the ball.  Both Singler and [Miles] Plumlee had a bushel of rebounds in the contest.  They were also assisted by ex-UNC star Jawad Williams who scored 18 second half points, but despite their efforts, they came up short.

On the other hand, Mason Plumlee showed that he will be a force this season by leading his winning team in scoring with 16 points, several of those coming on solid dunks.  There was one play where a driving guard bounced the ball high and Mason ran behind him on that break to catch it for a dunk which drew a good crowd response.  He later threw down another reverse dunk as the PA announcer said, "Mason Plumlee has arrived and is in the house."  But the dunk which brought the most oohs from the fans was when he went down the baseline and crammed an authoritative power dunk on his brother.

The action will continue and if you are in the Triangle area, admission is absolutely free.  Here is the web site for more details -Link to NC Pro Am

We'll discuss the Duke players more thoroughly on the BDNP Message Board.

BDN’s informative General Update #44 – The skinny on the recruiting front and more

Kyrie Irving vs Brandon Knight
Kyrie Irving vs Brandon Knight

In a recent poll with our members, our General Update was by far our most popular offering.  Join Blue Devil Nation Premium today and see what the buzz is about.  Our members overwhelmingly stated that Blue Devil Nation Premium was better than other subscription services.  If you've been on the fence, it's time to jump in for our coverage on the AAU trail is about to explode.

Duke has put the full court press on Kyrie Irving of late and they [private] hope that their August camp will be the start to putting the nails in the coffin.  Let me take a second to remind you that all of the information this update  is sensitive and by contract cannot be shared with e-mail groups, other message boards or reprinted in any way.  Irving is not likely to pull the trigger early, but BDN Premium has learned that his Dad and uncle will make the trip as well.

The Blue Devils feel confident that they will close the deal with Harrison Barnes in due time.  Do not look for other teams to get involved any further for in my opinion, Duke is the favorite with Kansas the only other alternative.  Barnes will not participate in any more AAU events after the Peach Jam.

Duke will still look for a sixth player to add to the class and that will be a forward unlike the ones currently on the roster.  Duke is also still highly interested in Ray McCallum.

Duke is still seeking to get involved with Fab Mello, but at this time they are not on his current list.  Mello will receive an invite to the Elite camp.  BDN will attempt to get a Q & A with Mello in the near future.

The Blue Devils are also hoping to close the deal on Quincy Miller soon rather than later.  Miller soared in the rankings after Duke offered.  Of course, anyone who looks at early rankings in the class of 2011, may be disappointed as time goes on for not even the gurus have had that many views of the kids.  In fact, it's alarming to see how some of the rankings come about and some certainly do a better job of it than others.  Anyhow, Miller is a Duke type of kid and getting a verbal from him by the end of summer would allow Duke to concentrate their efforts on the team.

The Men's staff is about to hit the road big time.  They will have a high profile at all of the events with Krzyzewski attending LeBron James, Peach Jam and the Vegas tournaments.  I am pretty sure he'll end up in Orlando if there are enough kids of interest and an early look at the south Florida events shows that they have more talent than in past years.  We are talking of the Showcase and AAU Nationals. Duke Assistant Coach,  Nate James and his wife are expecting a baby in mid July, so he will not attend the Peach Jam nor the Vegas events.

Many of you have asked about Duke possibly filling a lost in 2009.  There is a possibility, but only if certain prospects seek them out.  Duke will likely close out the class as it stands now, but a final move is a possibility.

Our own Andrew Slater will be covering the LeBron James Skills Academy this week and I will be at the Peach Jam later this month.  You can count on coverage from Las Vegas as well.  In short, BDN Premium will continue to show you that this is "the" place for the best basketball recruiting coverage.  Kyle Singler will be attending the James Academy and Coach Krzyzewski, Wojo and Nate will attend this event.  They'll also take in the Adidas Take Five where Chris Collins will replace James.  Nate will then spend one day at the Reebok event.

Speaking of Nate "Dogg" James, I had a one-on-one interview with him which will go up this weekend.  There will be little rest for the coaches as Krzyzewski, Wojo and Collins will then head to a loaded Peach Jam event in Augusta.

On the football front, Coach Cutcliffe welcomed the incoming freshman class yesterday and they were put through the now infamous running drills.  According to Thaddeus Lewis all the freshman did well and took it, so to speak.  He said that Desmond Scott had been looking good and that he would get some playing time from day one.  When talking of his strength, Thad said that he had the best hands of any back coming out of the backfield.

BDN will continue to cover the football preseason as it has in the past.  IOW, we'll regularly attend any function made available to us and will update you on the practices leading into the opener with Richmond.  We have long been dedicated to football and hope to expand our coverage with some key additions.  In an effort to put a brighter light on the program, BDN will keep 90% of it's football information free.

You may have noticed thatt GoDuke has gone to a new cleaner look and that they are more user friendly. BDN has had some changes in the works as well.  We are redoing our front page and will be going to a new message board which is synchronized with the site, meaning you do not need to register for both.  The changes should help streamline your experience.

Also, I will be addressing the survey questions on our message board and we appreciate the responses, complaints and props.  I am happy to announce that members were overwhelmingly happy with the site with almost all who participated saying BDNP was better than other subscription sites which cover recruiting.  We will strive to keep this site ahead of the curve and when I say that, I am mainly talking about information and not so much technology.  Information was by far the one area in the survey which members pointed to time and time again.

Our site should be a good counterpart to GoDuke and free sites like DBR.  We are not in competition with Duke's official site.  In fact, we support them.  BDN tries to fill the gaps in between and we'll always come up with new ideas along the way.  That said, I want to thank members for their patience during the past year where I have battled some health issues and the site has found it's footing in the direction after a sudden move.

Changes will start to appear sooner rather than later.  Jim Sumner will have his first article up next week and we hope to continue to work with writers you have come to know.  BDN will expand the free content in that we plan on bringing you the news that you used to see in newspapers on a daily basis.  We are the new or modern day beat writers in an ever changing media world and will strive be professional in our coverage.

I have put aside another project in an effort to make Blue Devil Nation the best it can be and I look forward to hearing your responses as this takes place.  After all, it is the members and readers who make up the Blue Devil Nation for we are all in this together.

Addendum - Duke has offered Roscoe Smith.  I meant to include this but kind of forgot about it.  Nate James is the lead recruiter for Smith.  Duke has  invited him the their Elite Camp.[/private]

Kryzyzewski dispels rumors and talks of the future – general recap of his annual summer press conference

copyright Associated Press
copyright Associated Press

Durham, N.C. - Every summer, college coaches around the country meet with the media, and today it was Coach Mike Krzyzewski's turn.  Krzyzewski is heading into his 30th season as the Duke Men's Basketball Coach and he covered a myriad of subjects, from his involvement with Team USA to the fact that he'll finish his coaching career at Duke.

Krzyzewski wasted no time in dispelling rumors that he would entertain coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.  In fact, he made it clear that he would finish out his career at Duke University.  "I will never leave Duke until I finish coaching.  I'm not leaving Duke, said Krzyzewski.  Furthermore, he wanted to end any future speculation and stated his case emphatically.  He went on to say that he didn't want his players to ever think he was entertaining other jobs.

Just prior to ending that rumor, he addressed the Elliot Williams transfer by stating that the decision was what was best for his family.  He refused to go into any more detail and made it clear that he didn't want to discuss it further.  While some will certainly speculate that there had to be more to it, Krzyzewski was simply trying to move on and concentrate on his 2009-10 team.

Naturally, the question of two guards came up and if you have been following the program you should have known the answer coming.  Krzyzewski once again used the question as an opportunity to state that Duke did not look at players as guards, forwards, etc.  Instead, they look at players as players and they have never called kids traditional positions during his tenure.

Of course, questions still came about who would handle the ball and Kryzyewzski asked the reporter who handled the ball last season at Duke.  His point was that Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith return.  "We had less turnovers when Scheyer took over than we did all year," said Krzyzewski.

Again, if you have followed the program over the years, you realize that Kryzyzewski chooses to look at the positives even if there is a lack of depth in the back court.  He also mentioned that Jordan Davidson would be back from off-season back surgery and that he knew the system and he could steal a couple of minutes.

Krzyzewski also lauded the play of Liberty transfer Seth Curry and mentioned how he would help in practice playing the role of the other team's scorer.

When incoming freshmen Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly came up, Krzyzewski said that both would see significant time in their first season.  He said that Plumlee and Kelly were both highly skilled and easy to play with.  He discussed several of his players, but oddly, nobody really asked about Kyle Singler.

When asked if he'd coach Team USA again, Kryzyzewski pointed to July 21st as the date that the coach would be announced.  He made it clear that he would always be involved with USA Basketball in some way.

And if you need some board chatter, try this one on: "We never stop recruiting," replied Krzyzewski when asked if they were still looking at the 2009 class.

Below is a portion of the event on audio.  We'll discuss the press conference in more detail on our message boards and give you our extended thoughts on the event.

BDN’s NBAPA Top 100 Camp Prospect Analysis

Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

Kyrie Irving -  Irving started off really slow at this event, but warmed up nicely in the last three games.  He was outplayed by Brandon Knight and had two match ups with Josh Selby which were a draw.   Still, there were many reasons for his sluggish play.  First off, he is accustomed to playing with lesser talent and being the go to man.  Yeah, I know that all of the kids at the NBAPA were go to guys, but he had a hard time adjusting to not getting the ball where he wanted it.  He did not team well with Tyler Lamb. [private] In fact, Lamb, a shooting guard often tried to receive the in bounds pass when Irving was the true point in the game.  When Lamb did get the ball, well, that was that for he was going to shoot.  Irving showed he needs work on the consistency of his outside shot, but he is more than capable of remedying this.  It should also be noted that he played in many east coast AAU events last year.  What I'm getting at is he did not know some of the guys at the event, so it took him a bit to find his comfort zone.

Tyler Thornton - Tyler constantly talks to his teammates and plays a really smart floor game.  His defense is solid, but he does have trouble keeping up with speedsters like Joe Jackson.  He continues to work on his outside shot and is more than capable of running the point.  He became more aggressive as the camp went on and that served him well.  Needs to cut down on the occasional drives where he takes it into the teeth of the defense.  He will likely surprise a few with his play once he is at the point for a team that plays as a team.

Josh Hairston - Hairston is adjusting to the hype and as we reported here, he'll transfer to Montrose and that will help in that the competition is better.  Hairston has been forced to play out of position and by floating outside working on his jumper, his inside game has suffered and slightly regressed.  Hairston is a victim of being labeled a Dukie and prospects come at him hard, but he must learn to match their intensity being more physical on the boards and around the glass.  He'll be fine, but getting his inside game back in shape will help his confidence which has been slightly shaken of late.

Ray McCallum - Ray was no match for the speed of Joe Jackson in that he had trouble turning the corner on him.  Still, McCallum is a pure point guard that generally does not hurt his team.  It is clear that he is a notch below Knight and Irving, but he is steady and never shaken when beat.  IOW, he bounces back quickly.  He was not particularly aggressive on the offensive end at the NBAPA and had trouble getting his shot off when taking it down the lane if he didn't have an outlet.  He is quick with the ball and an adept ball handler, but he did struggle with the likes of Knight and Jackson.  I think a little more upper body strength would help his game tremendously.

Joe Jackson - He had a great camp and proved himself the fastest of all the PG prospects.  He would on occasion look for his shot instead of teammates, but could not be stopped when going into the lane.  He plays good on ball defense and despite being wiry and slender he is unusually strong with his movements.  Needs work on his outside shot, but is a scoring point that will give teams major head aches when he is on his game.  You had to see Jackson play throughout the whole tournament to appreciate him.  I have seen where some watched these kids the first two days and formed an opinion from that instead of the entire body of their games.

Tarik Black - As advertised with a solid body and loves to work in the paint.  Did a great job against the much bigger Fab Mello and has two key baskets to help his team win the championship game.  Not a great spot up shooter nor can he put the ball on the floor like some c, but he is more than efficient with his overall game and his presence is strong when in the game.  Much more advanced than Tsafack at this stage, but he is learning the game of hoops as well in that he starting balling at a late age.

Brandon Knight - Knight is freakishly good, but his team did not win a single game.  I am not sure what that says, but he has all the tools which make coaches drool.  He is by far the best PG prospect in his class and there is a significant drop off to get to the next tier.  Some people say he is selfish, but there is nothing he supposedly does wrong that cannot be fixed.  Outside shot is spotty, but he is a blaze of motion with the ball and takes it to the rack with tremendous authority.  Knight is very confident and is college ready right now.

Dominique Ferguson - He started slowly, but he woke up in the final two games.  I feel he needs to be more aggressive on defense and down low.  Still, the package is there and he has long arms and a body that is perfect for development.  If he learns to play with an attitude of aggression, watch out.

Harrison Barnes - Started slowly by his standards and looked tired.  His teammates did not get him the ball a lot, yet he still came away a stat stuffer by tournaments end.  He struggled mightily on the front end of one and ones and was double teamed a lot.  He is not a super presence when taking it into traffic, but he gets the shot off.  Good inside/out play and gave maximum effort.  Very smooth in all aspects of his game and plays with a quiet confidence at all times.  He is not a rah-rah guy, keeping his emotion in check much like Trajan Langdon did in his days at Duke.

Andre Dawkins - Andre got saddled on one of the weaker teams and he didn't like losing.  He continued to show improvement on both ends of the court.  This is a kid just now discovering his athleticism and what he can do with it.  Dawkins scored on most anybody and played hard even when his team was down and out.  He resurrected his team for a late playoff run.  Still needs more work on his handle and creating his shot off the dribble.

Fab Mello - Mello didn't disappoint.  In fact, he played better against the best than he seems to in AAU tournaments against lesser competition.  His size and ability to run the floor is impressive, but he is clueless on how to use his body with positioning.  If he masters that, watch out for he will be a beast.  Needs polish on his offensive game, but has all the tools to be the real deal.  Struggles mightily with communication and seems to create more pressure than there really is. [/private]

Duke prosepct Kyrie Irving chats with Blue Devil Nation

Kyrie Irving - c/r Blue Devil Nation
Kyrie Irving - c/r Blue Devil Nation

Duke basketball prospect Kyrie Irving gives part I of an interview to BDN Premium.  Hear Kyrie for yourself  [private], but for those who do not like the audio interviews, we will try to find a way to transcribe them.  During the second part, Irving spoke of his Uncle wearing an IU shirt recently and that it meant nothing.  He seemed to have wanted to emphasize that point.

[/private]