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The Duke Basketball Season is Upon Us

Well, the Duke Basketball season is upon us and what a way to open things up.  The Blue Devils will face off with the Kentucky Wildcats tomorrow evening in Indianapolis, IN in a matchup of college hoops heavyweights.  So, what are my thoughts going into the game?

Win or lose, it will be a learning experience

Mike Krzyzewski has one of the youngest teams he's ever coached.  While this group is immensely talented, they still start four new freshmen,  This game will be a measuring stick for the program for Krzyzewski has in no way implemented his full hand yet with concern to how this team will look in March.  This is by no means a must-win game for either team.  It is instead, a game for college basketball fans around the world to celebrate the tip-off to another season.  And, yes, the winner will stay atop the polls for sure, but the loser will not fall too far in the rankings.

What are the potential weaknesses for Duke this season?

If you watched the ESPN special eight-part series on Duke Basketball, you will see Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressing his team.  One of the things thee things he mentioned was that players needed to be better three-point shooters via their approach.  Duke does not have a lot of known three-point artists on this years team, so many of the players are getting accustomed to adding the shot to their resume,  This, in turn, will reflect on two other areas of play in rebounding the ball and knocking down free throws.  Duke is not as big up front and could go small, so that means all players will need to hit the boards and they could struggle against teams like Kentucky which have big, fully grown men in their frontcourt.  As for free throw shooting, Duke should get to the line often, so struggling in any of the three aforementioned areas could haunt them at some point of the season,

What are the potential strengths

The defense will be improved where Krzyzewski has shown he will go man to man much more often.  Duke is long and athletic and can get in passing lanes while pressuring the ball.   This team will run.  When the breaks are there, Duke will be off and running.  Duke will also benefit from knowing their roles and or chemistry this season.   asked veteran players in the locker room about this and they said this team is together on and off the court.  I suppose we have to mention how ridiculously good the freshman class is as well.  R.J. Barrett is an alpha dogs, alpha dog.  Zion Williamson is a pleasure to watch skywalk, Cam Reddish knocking down threes is nice too.  And all three can pass the ball as can true PG Tre Jones.  Duke will benefit greatly from having a more traditional point this season in their positionless scheme.

How can Duke beat Kentucky

It will not be easy for Duke to beat Kentucky in that the Wildcats are a solid nine players deep and they have some grown men in their lineup.  You just cannot concentrate on any one player for there is a danger at each position on the court.   One thing which Duke needs to do is stay out of foul trouble early and the whole game for that matter.  Duke loses a lot of talent when they go to their bench, but there are players capable of quality minutes there and they need to step up against the Cats.  If those two things happen, Duke will be tight their in what should be a tense and close game before the final buzzer sounds.

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Early season test will prepare Duke for the ACC and March

Duke has a very challenging early season schedule which includes tomorrow evenings opener against Kentucky.  The Blue Devils will face stiff competition in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational where they can run into highly ranked Auburn and Gonzaga, not to mention Arizona.  Even the opener against San Diego State is tough.  Duke will take on one of the most underrated teams in the nation when they face Indiana in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge and mark my words, the Hoosiers will have move up the polls by then.  These games along with a brutal ACC schedule and a late-season contest with St. Johns, where Mike Cragg now resides as the AD will have them a seasoned bunch before March Madness.

Who do I think will be good in the ACC this season?

The league is loaded.  I voted for Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Syracuse in no particular order in the top four and have Virginia Tech, Florida State close behind.  N.C. State will be better than some think, never sleep on Miami.  Clemson will be solid and Notre Dame has an interesting roster.    I went a little outside the box and voted Tyus Battle preseason ACC POY and R.J. Barrett as the top freshman.  I also place both Barrett and Zion Williamson on the first team.  It is a safe bet that Duke will have no less than three newcomers on the ACC All-Freshman team at seasons end.

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What is Al Featherstons take?

Al thinks this years team can reach the Final Four but that a lot has to go right.  He felt Marques Bolden contributing solid minutes is a major key to success as is bench development of the seventh man in crunch time.  I watched all of the games in Canada with Al before he passed on this morning and he was excited to see what the team would look like with Cam Reddish and Tre Jones in the lineup.  He scanned over the last exhibitions games box score fervently before saying, they're going to be pretty damn good.  I will miss talking Duke history with Al and was honored he valued my opinion.  I had hoped he'd make it through what may be a special season.

BDN Premium Special Still Available

We are still offering a special rate for new or former Blue Devil Nation premium subscribers of 60 bucks for one year.  I will be talking recruiting happenings later this week while offering up behind the scenes tidbits.

 

Wendell Moore Jr. Picks Duke

Wendell Moore picked Duke University in Cox Mill Auditorium just moments ago.

One of the nations top prospects, Wendell Moore Jr. has decided he will play basketball for Duke University.  His announcement came in front of his hometown Cox Mill fans.  Moore picked the Blue Devils over in state and ACC rivals North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest.

Moore is a tough and physical wing player who some consider a power guard.  He is a top-notch defender who can guard multiple positions and he possesses a 6-11 wingspan while standing close to 6-6, 210 pounds.

Moore helped lead his Cox Mill team to back to back state titles and has just returned from a stint with USA Basketball.  He is expected to become the Cabarrus County’s all-time leading scorer during his senior season with the Chargers where he's 19 points shy of the record.

The newest Duke commitment was born in Richmond, Virginia but currently hails from Charlotte, N.C.  He played his AAU ball for CP3 in the Nike EYBL.  A season ago he averaged 25.4 points per game in high school and added 7.3 rebounds per contest.

Moore was named as the 2017-18 North Carolina basketball coaches player of the year.  He was first-team all state in various publications including USA Today.

The Charlotte native has also won two gold medals while playing for USA Basketball in 2017 and 2018.  He started all seven games where his USA team went undefeated this past summer in Santa Fe, Argentina.

Moore grew up a LeBron James fan and is the son of Marie and Wendell Moore Sr.  He is the first commitment in the 2019 class for Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils.

You can follow Wendell on social media -

For more on Moore and Duke Basketball recruiting. join Blue Devil Nation Premium during our 60.00 for the one-year special offer in the link above.  Where will Duke go from here?  We'll talk about that and more.

 

 

Wendell Moore Has Set a Decision Date

Key Duke Basketball prospect Wendell Moore Jr. announced his final four schools this afternoon and will choose his collegiate hoops destination this coming Monday.

Moore is a five-star prospect from Concord, N.C. and a player the Blue Devils staff has coveted for a long time.    Chris Carrawell has been the lead assistant recruiter for the Blue Devils and Mike Kryzyzewski has been heavily involved.

The Cox Mill product would likely start for the Blue Devils where they expect to lose up to four players to the NBA Draft.

Moore is 6-5, 215 and can play multiple positions.  He is also being heavily recruited by N.C. State and has North Carolina and Wake Forest on his list.

For more information on Moore, join Blue Devil Nation Premium during our special offer of 60.00 for one year's coverage.   You can find our analysis on the situation there.

 

Duke Basketball Recruiting Update – Sorting It Out

Photo -SUN SENTINEL - Vernon Carey

A lot of the recruiting world was in mild shock when Bryan Antoine picked Villanova over Duke yesterday.  Actually, I am not that surprised for recruiting is an inexact science when trying to read the tea leaves of the information which is available.

This one started to turn a little while back in that the Wildcats put on a full court press on Team Antoine.  And let's face it, they have won two of the last three titles, so this is a hot school.

The surprise, however, is that Antoine did not even take his Duke visit.  Hey, I thought he was a Duke lean, but there had been scuttlebutt coming from the Wildcats for the past two weeks where they were appeasing him by saying he could be close to his entire family.

Not to alarm you, but another player who is getting the full court press from Duke who is considered a strong lean, Isiah Stewart is also getting a monster push from Villanova and they have closed the gap to where his recruitment is in doubt.

I have already heard that Antoine and other Nova recruits are on him hard to play with them, so this is one to watch closely.  There are also rumors saying that negative recruiting is going on where some are saying Mike Krzyzewski will not be at Duke much longer and could ride into the sunset if his team won it all this coming season.

I cannot confirm or deny the rumors, but it is not a stretch to think some version of negative recruiting is going on.  It has also been mentioned, mainly on Duke sites; that missing Jeff Capel is playing a role in recruiting.  While this is true in some cases, Duke still has guys who Coach K trusts and they have Coach K.  But Capel was one to speak his mind and relate to players which will serve him well at Pitt.

I do not completely buy that missing Capel is the cause of a slow recruiting start.  I see it more as what players are available who grew up liking Duke to be lacking a tad this season.  This means the staff has to sell them on what is best for their basketball future for their hearts do not necessarily make them want to automatically come to Duke.

There is actually more to the negative recruiting I am hearing but I am just not comfortable in speaking to unsubstantiated facts.

Let's face it, Duke cannot always pick and choose who it gets on campus and there will be off years.  And it is also good to keep in perspective that the Blue Devils are riding high with a direct pipeline to the NBA of late.

That is why they hope the rest of the kids they're recruiting wait.  The staff wants them to see this years team on campus and the success their alumni has on the NBS this coming season where they will have a record number of players on rosters,.

While there are not the sure things like in the past with concern to prospects, the Blue Devils are not dead in the water yet.  They are still in the mix with some of the nations top rated players but each one presents a difficult challenge.

With the loss of Antoine, the Blue Devils will likely go all in on Josiah James now.  They need some wings and he can play multiple guard spots.  They could use an early commitment from James about now or any other player but we will likely have to sweat it out for a bit longer.  James will visit the Duke campus on the 21st of this month and he will do so at the same time as Wendell Moore.

Not getting kids on campus like in the case of Antoine, could alter their plans.  The bottom line is the staff felt it would get a visit before his decision and they were confident in what they had to offer.

I would imagine with the loss of Antoine, the phone calls will increase and that has to happen when you have a limited crop of kids left on the wish list.

In short, the phones and texts are going out and the staff is showing kids proper interest.  They had an idea before we did that Antoine was being tugged to stay near home.

Also, let me interject here that we live in a world where Antoine can go to Villanova and Zion Williamson can pick Duke and nobody saw it coming.  This is worth remembering when worried if Duke will get anybody as many are falling victim to.

Some seem to think Vernon Carey will be a tough get and I think he will, but Duke will need to get in his grill with reports that Villanova wants Stewart to round out their class.  And I hate to say this, but the word is that Stewart is open to doing just that. Official visits to Kentucky on October 17, Duke October 19, Miami October 26, and  UNC November 2.

Duke has to get one of Carey or Stewart in that they will only have Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden up front next season.  And who is to say they will be here for sure?

Isaiah Stewart

I think Duke is strong with Isiah Stewart, but this one is not over and they have to close.  There is a pile of unsubstantiated rumors going on with concern to where he leans, but it appears he will take his visits before doing anything, which means we'll sweat it out a bit,  I sometimes cringe when people call kids a lock, but the truth of the matter is Duke let Armando Bacot go to UNC thinking this kid was in the bag.  I think the thought process here was looking who we turned away from in favor of you but we will have to wait and see what that means to Stewart and Duke has yet to get any player out of the City Rocks AAU system.

Matthew Hurt on his visit to Duke. Pictured right.

The Blue Devils have gone all in on Matthew Hurt but so has every school on his list.  He played for Bill Self with USA Basketball and he gets more calls than the hottest girl in school.  Still, the word is that Mike Krzyzewski is building a good relationship with the standout player and he will have to stay on him hard and sweat it out should Duke win this one.  As you saw in our earlier update, Duke will be in-home with him this Sunday as will Kansas and Kentucky.  Whoo!  UNC and Minnesota will visit shortly thereafter.  I think Duke will have a better feel about where they stand after this visit and that Hurt will begin to make official visit plans.  I think the three visitors on Sunday have the upper hand in this one and that it will be a race until the end.   Some reports have him going to Kentucky's Big Blue Madness already but I have not confirmed that as of yet.

And it now looks like Duke will have to sweat it out with the aforementioned Carey and Stewart as well.  But hold on before you jump off a bridge.  Keep in mind that Duke will be able to offer immediate playing time and exposure and a tested method of getting players drafted in the lottery. That is why I may be a little worried in that there is no player in the fold just yet, but I also see the openings Duke will have to offer.

Cole Anthony

Many have said that Cole Anthony will only come if Tre Jones goes pro.  Well, if Jones goes pro, then Duke probably just won the title in the same way his brother left early.  In short, just let this one play out for a lot can happen.  It is a win-win here.  If Jones goes pro, it gives Duke a chance to offer Anthony the ball.  If Jones stays, we are still okay,

That brings us to Wendell Moore.   I think Duke will get Moore but his camp is taking it slow and going through the motions.  I just feel Duke has too much to offer for him to be swayed over to N.C. State or North Carolina.  And the main thing Duke offers is playing time for a player like him.  They are telling him he can be their Justise Winslow and he visits campus at the end of the month.

Jon Scheyer and Joey Baker

May I also remind you that Duke likely sees Joey Baker as a part of the incoming class as well.  I am not sure if he will redshirt, but his impact is a year away, save some spot up shooting.

I know some players recently decided to stay in the 2020 class as in R.J. Hampton.  But situations change things.  And we have a summer to go with Hampton and other 2020 targets who may come out a year early and we are in good with some kids capable of that feat.

Mannion has made the transition from Italy to USA Basketball.

As for Nico Mannion, he too is getting a major push from Villanova and Duke is in contact.  We will know this coming week if Duke will turn it up with his recruitment in that no official visit has been set up of late.  It is time to make a move if they really like the kid and if they do not, they feel comfortable with Jones and other options including waiting it out with Anthony.

Duke may also get into the transfer market in that it is now like recruiting.  In fact, I would be shocked if they didn't should they fall short a body or two on the recruiting front.  It will have to be the right fit, but I can see this scenario playing out sooner rather than later.

The bottom line is Mike Krzyzewski will find a way to adjust to the situation presented.  He will fill his roster, so no need to get overly worried as some are in the Blue Devil Nation.

We'll get into the upcoming visits next update and there will be a clearer picture with more information at that time.  In the interim, I will check in with sources to see where we stand with the prospects as things progress.  Until then,  remember, do not believe everything you hear and crystal balls do not always work as they should.

Lastly, the word is that Tre Jones and Cam Reddish are doing more in workouts and that they will be ready to go once camp starts in less than three weeks.  Alex O'Connell will be held out of contact drills for a bit but will be ready to go as well.

I am also working on my take on the Canadian and a preview for the season.  Those of you remember last seasons 3200-word take and another one is coming.

We don't have the most active message board for our members seem to be readers.  But you can ask questions there and get further updates and analogies.  One more side note, the staff is in regular contact with Brandon Boston and Jalen Johnson and will be adding more names to their wishlist as time goes on for 2020.

 

 

Catching Up to Duke Prospect Vernon Carey

Photo -SUN SENTINEL - Vernon Carey

One of the best sure-fire big man prospects in the nation is Vernon Carey.  The scary thing is that the young man is just starting to reach his potential.

Carey is considered a can't miss one and done prospect and he has the nations blue blood programs listed in his final five schools.

Duke has stayed in touch with the Florida prospect where he regularly talks to Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke assistant coaches.

While some believe Duke to be the leader for his services, other schools continue to push hard as well.

The Blue Devils will be in dire need of big men next season with the expected departure of Marques Bolden.  They continue to give maximum effort with concern to Carey and would like to team him with another bug man.

The last time I spoke to you was in Raleigh during the John Wall Invitational.  Talk about how your game has changed since that time.

I am just trying to be more aggressive over the high school season and then to this summer.  Just working on my game every week.

What do you do during the week and who do you train with?  

I do it with one of the NBA trainers, Stan Remy and I workout with Dwayne Wade and Brandon Knight.

Wow, that is impressive.  You have that down home Florida thing going on.

Yeah.

So, your final five per twitter is Duke,  Kentucky North Carolina, Miami (FL), and Michigan State.  Can you touch on who has been the most active of late in your recruitment?

Miami, they text me everyday and say I can bring a legacy to Miami.  Coach Nate James and Mike Krzyzewski (knows how to pronounce it) texts me everyday to and says that I am a guy who can help lead the Duke program.

How did Duke say that they can use you in their system?

Yeah, like one and done guys like Marvin Bagley and those guys who played this year and are going to the NBA.

You see the success of teams like Duke and Kentucky with one and dones...

Ahem.

Is that an attractive situation for you?

It is.

When you get down to making a decision, is there any timeline on that or is it still early?

It's early, but I am trying to do it before high school season next year.  I would like to make a decision by then, but I am not sure yet.

Vernon, being a highly rated player like you are guys will come after you hard.  Who are some of the toughest competitors you have face on the circuit?

Guys like Keion Brooks  (Mich. St. may lead IU and Kentucky) and really everybody.  They're all coming at me hard.

Do you have an unofficial visits planned?

Maybe Miami, but just because they are close to home.

Just how far are you from the Miami campus?

Maybe thirty or forty minutes.

Yeah, that is close.  Is that an advantage for them?

Some, but I will go where I feel like there is the best fit.

Who do you like in the NBA playoffs?

The Cav's.  (Interview was done before the first game)

Do you pattern your game after any particular NBA guys?

I would say DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.  I like to watch them and how they play.

What do you hope to accomplish during your coming high school season?

Hopefully win a state championship and compete and win a national championship

Will you be attending the same high school, University School this season?

Yes.

Okay.  Thanks for your time and good luck the rest of the summer and the upcoming Peach Jam.