Blue Devil Nation Premium went one on one with Duke junior Mason Plumlee and we spoke of the big game with Virginia which tips pff at 9:05 on Thursday, his future plans and more in our latest offering to BDN members. As the interview ends you can feel the fury of the team walking to the locker room after a hard practice in the backdrop. [private]
Next up - Marshall Plumlee opens up about his redshirt year and how he's handling it. [/private]
Rasheed Sulaimon bounced back to lead Strake Jesuit past Wheeler by a score of 70-63. Sulaimon led his team in scoring with 26 points and after the contest BDN Premium caught up to him for a 1 on 1 interview where he speaks of talking with Coach K and many other things, including his upccoming diary for Blue Devil Nation members. We're sure you will enjoy this video interview where you'll see what a stand up young man Sulaimon is. It's a great time to join BDN Premium! [private]
If deployed properly, basketball can be used as a passport to take one beyond the station that one is born into. It can open up doors to a young person unlike few things in life. Adults will fly you around the country, give you meals in restaurants, help you with your school work, and offer you advice, among other things. At a lot of camps and clinics, a speaker will say the aphorism, "Use basketball. Don't let basketball use you."
Chris McCullough is a nearly 6'9" driven young man from the Bronx, who played for Team Scan 15 U this AAU season. He's currently using basketball to attend Salisbury School, a $47,000 boarding school in Southwestern Connecticut that seeks to educate three hundred well-rounded young men. Salisbury, which is located in a bucolic town of the same name that is roughly a little over two hours away from the Bronx, offers state-of-the-art facilities and a very competitive basketball league, NEPSAC. Chris has used this opportunity to develop his game (erupted onto the national scene after an ever improving freshman season), his mind (currently taking Latin as a foreign language), and his body (hitting the expansive weight room and playing WR/FS on the school's 2-0 football team). This upcoming season, they will return a good portion of the talent from last year's squad [McCullough, 6'1" Ryan Frazier (Bucknell) and 6'6" Samuel Dingba] and add in several solid players, including Myles Jones, a three-sport athlete and an All-American lacrosse player from New York who's completing a postgraduate year at Salisbury before heading to Duke, Glenn Baral from Northern California, and a 2013 transfer from Proctor, Michael Geanellis.
McCullough came to Salisbury through his play with the Boys Club of New York, when he was a standout in their tryouts. Since then, Chris has blossomed into a 6'8" hybrid forward with a wingspan of over seven feet. Last season, as a freshman, he earned third-team Class A All-NEPSAC and helped lead Salisbury to the Class A Final, where, on a team with multiple Division I players, he stepped up with a team-high fourteen points against Choate.
This summer, while playing for Team SCAN 15U, McCullough was a force on both ends, using his athleticism and fluidity to attack lumbering bigs, while leveraging his length, size, and improving perimeter shot against smaller wings. His length helped cause havoc in the passing lanes and in blocking shots near the basket. Chris helped SCAN win the Hall of Fame Invitational in Massachusetts and finish as the runner up in both the Providence Jam Fest and the Fab 48 in the desert of Las Vegas.
SCAN, which began in the late 1970s, operates as an outreach program for families in the South Bronx and East Harlem, providing a wide variety of services including after-school help, camps, educational and vocational training, and counseling to nearly four hundred families in order to achieve long-term success and development. Chris' AAU coach, Coach "Munch" Williams, was part of the SCAN program, eventually attended Wesleyan University, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, and now helps run the Mullaly Academy in the Bronx.
Although he's got several more years to decide on a college, McCullough has visited several schools including St. John's, Seton Hall, Arizona, UConn, and Syracuse. The sophomore already holds offers from most of the Big East, Florida, Arizona, Iowa State, and Temple, amongst others.
The ambitious young man, Chris McCullough, spoke briefly with Blue Devil Nation.
Can you touch on your decision to go to Salisbury? What have you gotten out of the experience so far? Also, what are the facilities and competition like? Salisbury's been great as far as providing academics and basketball. We've got some new players coming in and we should be a really good team. We should be able to win a Championship this year and next year. That needs to be our goal.
How will your role change from last year to this year? I think it'll be bigger because I've tried to work on my skills a lot since last season ended. I've been just trying to grind.
[private] What do you think that your strengths and weaknesses are right now? My weakness is my outside shot... a little bit.
And what do you feel is the strength of your game right now? Oh, I don't really have one.
Obviously, your versatility is a factor. What position do you think that you'll end up playing long-term? I think I'll play the three.
Will distance be a factor for you, whenever you do decide? Oh, no. Not at all.
What are some things that you're ideally looking for in a program? In college? Yeah, I'm sorry. I know it's so far away. No, no, that's alright. It's a gotta be a good school with a feeling that we're gonna be a part of something bigger and I'd like a chance to start. So playing time will be a factor? Oh, yes.
Can you talk about the rise of New England basketball and some of the competition that you face on a regular basis? Oh, yeah, I play against good schools and players. The point guard at Hotchkiss is heading to Marquette Derrick Wilson. Yeah.
What are your goals for this high school season, collectively and individually? Just one goal. Win a championship.
In terms of AAU ball this year, how would you assess your play? I feel I've grown a lot and faced a lot of great players. You feel that you've had a good run though? Oh, yeah, yeah.
How do you feel when you play in front of college coaches? What do you feel inside? Excited. I feel excited.
What schools are after you and what offers do your have? My offers are Syracuse, Saint John's, Providence, Rutgers, Iowa State, Temple, and a few others. Those are the ones that I definitely know of.
Now, in asking around, there was a belief that St. John's is your "dream school." Is that accurate? Oh, no, not at all. I'm wide open.
Is there a player that you try to model your game after? Just Kevin Durant.
Who will you seek guidance from whenever you do decide on a college? I'm not sure.
Who's the toughest player that you've gone against so far? Wayne Selden. The little guard…he's tough.
You do both, but do you feel more comfortable with your back to the basket or facing up? Definitely facing up.
What's your favorite part of the court to catch the ball? The free throw line.
Academically, I assume you're totally fine. Is that correct? Oh, yeah, yeah. That's been no problem.
What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court? That I'm a good kid.
Are any ACC schools recruiting you at this time? Virginia. Virginia's the only one so far.
Just out of curiosity, what do you know about the Duke program or university? Not much, I just know they're a great program and I like to watch them play when they're on TV.
Alright, Chris and Coach, thank you very much for your time and good luck in the future. Definitely, thanks. Any time.[/private]
Just yesterday, Coach Mike Krzyzewski visited 6-9 Tony Parker, one of the Blue Devils long time targets. Krzyzewski has been pro active with Parker for better than a year now and he's leaving no doubt that he is and has been a prime target, Parker has some of the best hands you'll see on a big man and he of course, eats up a lot of space in the paint. He has the opportunity to follow in the foot steps of similar past Duke alumni in Carlos Boozer, Shelden Williams and Elton Brand, all of whom are still balling in the NBA.
Today, Krzyzewski and company continue their trek when he will drop in on Brewster Academies Mitch McGary. The young budding star is another player the Blue Devils staff covets and one whom they are making sure knows their desire to see him rocking rims in Cameron Indoor Stadium. While some are saying that McGary is a Michigan lean, he said himself in the recent Jason Jordan's ESPN Blog that he didn't really know where he wanted to go yet. We tend to believe him and why not? McGary is not a kid that has been deceptive in his recruiting process to date and he is a young man with several schools making a hard play at him.
The Blue Devils will not be finished with the McGary visit. Three other key prospects are on the agenda. [private] Duke will also drop in on Nerlens Noel, the human fly swatter of a defender that is close to reclassifying. Had the Blue Devils been aware of that possibility, which maybe they were late like everyone else, you would have seen them more active. Coach Wojo visited Noel last week and Coach K will take a look at him today. Noel is the best defender I've seem come down the pike in quite a while, altering games and or should I say shots all by himself, getting into the heads of his opponent.
On Wednesday, Coach K will head west to see the nations top rated prospect in Shabazz Muhammad. I have told you all along that the Blue Devils would hang in this one until the end and that has payed off. Duke has a legitimate chance of landing Muhammad at the midnight hour and this is because of the relationship that has developed between Krzyzewski and the star prospect. UCLA is right there two and I personally feel it might come down to these two schools. Still, never count out Kentucky for they have time and time again sold kids on their, pardon the pun, one year program. Muhammad is a one and done kind of player and all involved know that. UCLA once selling him that he could be "the man," in Hollywood, now has to alter that a little bit with Kyle Anderson in the fold. Most feel Muhammad would like to play with Anderson but there are a few who feel he might not. Only time will tell on this one and be patient for this one will go on until the very last minute.
The Blue Devils will drop in on Julius Randle as well, a kid that they feel can like Parker, take on the role of a paint eater. Randle is a stud bull in the paint, unafraid of any comer. During the summer circuit, he more often than not took it to older opponents as a Texas Titan where he plays with Matt Jones, another Duke prospect coming to Countdown to Craziness. It's pretty awesome that Randle and Jabari Parker are seriously considering Duke and as I have said before, I feel Duke is in good shape with Parker and for that matter Randle.
Just a reminder to members - (This message in no way applies to all, for we have some great members here) We have had some problems with people taking information from here and putting it in free forums. Firstly, there are some things sensitive enough that the staff itself doesn't want it out in public forums and if it gets there it can hinder their work. Second, you entered a binding contract when signing up agreeing that you would not cut and paste or share our information in other forums. We want to take you at your word and hope it means something when you check the box. We don't allow others premium info in our forum in that it is about ethics for us. If you are one that has been guilty of the above, if we catch you, we will take action which could be a simple ban from this site or more if necessary. It shouldn't come to down to that. We don't expect you to not share info with your brother or something, we just ask that you be considerate in understanding that we work hard to bring you news and it keeps this site alive. The more that gets out there, the less I will say. That's just the way it is for we are about the health of Duke first and the money second. But it takes money for us to hit the trail like we do, so members are vital to our efforts. We have never claimed to know it all, but we do feel we are ahead of the curve more often than not with our offerings. I mean nobody has an Andrew Slater out there and you have to admit he's good at what he does, the best in my book. And Patrick has made this the place to be for football coverage and we expect that side of the site to continue to grow as people come to realize how hands on we are with the program. We have dreams of making this site even better and these are dreams I fully expect to come true, so stick with us and you'll be glad you did. On a positive closing note - - thanks for your support in that we truly appreciate you following Team BDN. We love serving Duke fans and hope to continue to do so forever. [/private]
The Duke Basketball staff is on the road as you learned in out latest recruiting update and BDN has confirmed that an official offer was made to Jahlil Okafor, a 6-9 sophomore center who plays for Whiney Young High School in Chicago, Illinois.
Blue Devil Nation Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater gives you the low down on Jahlil Okafor below and if you like what you read, you will love how informed Blue Devil Nation Premium is. What are you waiting for? Join in on the fun as a member now!
“For of those to whom much is given, much is required”
-President John F. Kennedy
Jahlil Okafor is a 6’10″ rising sophomore from the North Side of Chicago. In the Gold Medal game of the 16U FIBA Americas, the fifteen year-old was perfect from the floor and finished with eighteen points and fourteen rebounds against Argentina. This was the culmination of months of preparation. Okafor had spent countless hours refining his low-post skills and shedding some baby fat in order to be able to both make the final cut and ultimately contribute to the USA 16s team.
Although one of the youngest members of the team, Jahlil wound up finishing second on the team in rebounds (9.2 rpg) and third in points (14.6 ppg), while leading the team in shooting, both free throw (82.6%) and field goal (71%). His Mac Irvin teammate and friend, FIBA Americas MVP Jabari Parker, was on hand to celebrate the moment with him on the court in Mexico.
Okafor had a solid freshman year on the varsity team at Whitney Young, a magnet school that is the alma mater of First Lady Michelle Obama, the NBA veteran Quentin Richardson, and the directors of the Matrix, the Wachowski brothers. Jahlil was reportedly offered a scholarship to DePaul as an eighth grader at Rosemont Elementary School by their former interim coach, Tracy Webster. Since then, Okafor, a passionate Bulls fan, has received college scholarship offers from high-major programs across the country.
In late May, the decision was made to advance the fifteen year-old Jahlil to Mac Irvin’s 17U team in order to give more of a post presence for Nike’s EYBL wing in Los Angeles. Like a duck taking to water, he was a natural in his game against the physical 6’8″ senior Elijah Macon and All-Ohio Red. His advanced footwork, size, and developing low-post game have helped him hold his own against significantly older players at the LeBron James Skills Academy and the Peach Jam.
After losing his mother in the third grade, the focused and gregarious big man has been raised by his father Chukwudi “Chuck” Okafor and helped out by his aunt, Dr. Chinyere Okafor-Conley, an assistant principal at Penn Elementary School in Chicago. Education is a major point of emphasis in the family and was the primary factor in Jahlil’s decision to select the academically challenging school, Whitney Young.