Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Jason Williams Audio Interview – Williams shares his thoughts on Duke Basketball, working for ESPN and more

JWill and Nate discuss talent during the Coach K Academy Camp in Durham, N.C.
JWill and Nate discuss talent during the Coach K Academy Camp in Durham, N.C.

I had the opportunity to speak with former Duke All American and College Player of the Year Jason Williams yesterday afternoon.  Jason is participating as a coach in the annual Coach K Academy where he'll test his x's and o's skills against former Duke Basketball greats. 

We are making this interview available to give you an idea of the audio you'll find in Blue Devil Nation Premium featuring current, former players and prospects.  Jason talked of the event, broadcasting and much more. 

So, sit back and enjoy the latest from Jason Williams on BDN audio.  Also, be sure to listen to what Coach K had to say in our previous feature.

Coach K addresses the media during the opening of the Coach K Academy (Audio interview)

Coach K allows participants to feel the Duke experience during his annual Coach K Academy
Coach K allows participants to feel the Duke experience during his annual Coach K Academy

Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media this afternoon during the opening day of the Coach K Academy.  The event features a chance for men thirty-five years of age and older to participate in a fantasy camp which oozes with the Duke environment.  We'll have a bit more on the camp later, but for now, enjoy this audio Q & A session with Krzyzewski.  BDN Premium members will get to hear several interviews with former players in the coming days.

LaQuinton Ross talks recruiting and hearing from Duke

Ross gets a lot of attention when he has the ball - BDN Photo
Ross gets a lot of attention when he has the ball - BDN Photo

If one spends enough time evaluating talent on the AAU scene, they quickly learn that it takes more than one event to judge a player's skills.  All too often, a kid will blow up in a game or an event and get crowned the next Kobe Bryant.  Others will struggle or not live up to expectations, making it easy for the observer to label them overrated. 

Had I not been around the circuit a few times, I would have stated that LaQuinton Ross is vastly overrated.  Ross (6-8, 180, Jackson, MS) came into the Tournament of Champions event in almost everybody's top five players in the class of 2011, but he failed to live up to the hype when I first saw him.  I thought to myself, perhaps the reason for my disappointment has something to do with him playing for a very talented AAU team.   I then did a little digging and was told he as coming off an injury, which hindered his ability to move as he normally would. 

In my second view, Ross showed flashes of why he has earned high rankings by the scouts, but he still was far from his A-game.  Don't get me wrong, he stands out as an outstanding player, but just didn't seem to be one of the nation's top five players.  That's why I always wait to give my true analysis of a player after multiple views.  My general rule is that I must see a prospect play in a minimum of five games and that has to be over two separate events.  This rule has proven to help me get a real feel for a player.  One must consider that intangibles are always at work.  A kid may be hurt, or he has been going through some of life's issues.  I like to see a young man play tired to see if he forces himself through it.  I like to see a kid go up against an wide variety of match ups and AAU styles.  I could go on but you get the picture and you can bet that I will see Ross play a few more times before making a true assessment. 

It is worth noting that Duke has already made contact and visited Ross's school to see him play as you will hear in this audio interview - (Join BDN Premium and get full access and benefits from our site) [private]

Enjoy the interview.

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The Right Stuff

kelly-iv2Incoming freshman Ryan Kelly arrives at Duke with very good credentials. Most recently, he won the three point shooting contest at the 2009 McDonald’s All-American game. Being a 6′10″ forward with the ability to stretch defenses with a reliable jumper is definitely a plus. As a high school senior, Kelly led Ravenscroft to the NCISAA Championship game where the Ravens lost to Mason Plumlee and Christ School. Kelly scored 14 points in the game and was named to the All-State team. Last summer, as a member of the U18 National Team, Kelly started all five games averaging 8.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in helping the USA win the Silver Medal in Formosa, Argentina.

Timing could be perfect for Kelly as Duke will be short on guards this coming season forcing Coach Krzyzewski to play a larger line-up. Common speculation is Kyle Singler will be spending significant time at small forward, which will open the opportunity for Ryan Kelly to earn playing time in the power forward slot. Due to his perimeter skills, it is possible Kelly could see some minutes at small forward.

Kelly is often compared to former Blue Devil great Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy averaged 9.1 points in 24 minutes per game as a freshman. Similar stats from Kelly would go a long way in boosting front court scoring for Duke. Over the past three seasons, front court scoring has been one dimensional for the Blue Devils. In 2007, Josh McRoberts averaged 13 ppg with Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek contributing 4 ppg and 3.1 ppg respectively. In 2008, Kyle Singler averaged 13.3 ppg with Thomas and Zoubek chipping in 4.3 and 3.8. It was the same in 2009 as Singler averaged 16.5 with Thomas and Zoubek adding 5.3 and 4.1.

In 2009-10, Ryan Kelly represents a potential legitimate second scoring option in the front court alongside Kyle Singler. In a past BDN article, Tom Konchalski, editor of High School Basketball Insider Report, described Kelly, “Ryan has so much more fluidity to his game…He’s got nearly a perfect skill set for a guy 6 9…He’s a step out four man, who has very good skills.” In a BDN interview last December, Mark Watson asked Ryan if the Duke staff had told Kelly to work on any part of his game. Kelly responded, “Yeah…continue to work on my defense. They want me to be able to guard smaller players out front.”

That response provides a nice segue to discussing defense. Duke is known for their pressure man-to-man defense and to earn playing time players must be able to defend “Duke style.” While Kelly has impressive offensive skills, the question on informed minds is can Kelly play ACC level defense as a freshman? Is he strong enough to defend power forwards? Does he possess the lateral quickness to defend on the wing?

The answers to those questions will determine how much time Ryan Kelly spends on the court this coming season. The Blue Devils need front court scoring and Ryan Kelly has the potential to score points, but it will be his defensive abilities that earn him the opportunity to show the Cameron Crazies he has the right stuff.

Marshall Plumlee holds early offers but will take his time in the recruiting process

Marshall Plumlee will be the tallest of the bunch when he enters college - BDN Photo
Marshall Plumlee will be the tallest of the bunch when he enters college - BDN Photo

Marshall Plumlee took to the floor in Cameron Indoor Stadium during last weeks TOC in front of his parents and brothers Mason and Miles.  His two brothers are already at Duke and Marshall will prepare for the upcoming season with Christ School by developing his skills on the AAU trail.   BDN talked with Marshall after his teams victory which you can hear in the following audio [private] blog.  Coming in July, Blue Devil Nation 2.0.

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Recruiting Focus – Demarco Cox is a load down low

Cox calls for the ball during the TOC
Cox calls for the ball during the TOC

Demarco Cox (Yazoo City, MS) is quite a load at 6-8 and 300 pounds.  He holds offers from Alabama in football but says his first love is basketball.  BDN chats with Cox about his recruitment in this audio interview.  We'll have our take on his game on the premium message boards [private] shortly.

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