Tag Archives: Blue Devil Nation

Checking in with Duke prospect Justise Winslow

 

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow has a monster day. Rick Crank for BDN

No player in the country has been playing better basketball than Justise Winslow of late and the hot prospect definitely benefitted from his recent play with Team USA.  During the Nike Peach Jam, Winslow showed off his skills set and now sports  as complete a game as any prospect on the Nike EYBL circuit.  In short, Winslow has very few weaknesses.

The Texan can take you off the dribble, post up smaller and larger players, crash the boards, step back for a smooth mid range jump shot or nail the three on offense alone. And did I mention he brings the ball up court like a point guard and can hit the open man with his passes.  And Winslow can defend as well, having the ability to guard up to four positions if needed.

It doesn’t take long to appreciate Winslows on the court exploits, but he’s just as impressive off the court where he fires back answers that are clear and concise to reporters, many of whom seem in awe at how articulate his retorts can be.  Winslow after all, goes to one of the top schools in Houston and as you will see in the following interview, he is a competitor in the class room just as he is on the hardwood.

I’ve seen Winslow play in well over twenty games on the AAU circuit and what you look for over the years is for a player improve and Winslow is flat-out playing his best basketball ever and in my eyes is a top ten player in his class.  Which ever team gains his services at the collegiate level will get a solid citizen and as good a wing as one could want.

Check out the latest on Justise Winslow with our interview where we discuss the schools on his list, his timeline, Team USA Basketball and more.

 

I know Arizona, Duke and other schools have been on you hard, but what it your current list of schools? [private]

Well, right now I’m still at ten schools and there are no leaders or anything like that. North Carolina, Duke Florida, Texas A & M, Baylor, Houston, Arizona and Stanford. And there are some new schools trying to talk to me like UCLA, Indiana and Michigan.

Yeah, I don’t know when I will sign for sure but want to do so by November. I just want to make sure I am signed by then.

Coming back from playing with Team USA overseas has to be tough on the body.  You didn’t have long to prep for the Peach Jam.

Yeah, it was tough and that’s why I sat out the first game of the Peach Jam. I learned a lot by the experience and I’m just looking to take all the knowledge gained and just look forward to try to display it out here and be the best I can be. It was tough adjusting to the time zone again but that’s no excuse. I’ve got to know my body and do what’s best for it. So, yes, it was tough and I’m adjusting.

Can you talk of  your experience?

It’s just a big difference playing with those guys because most of them have been to college other than the three of us, so the speed of the game and they’re just stronger and bigger I got a lot out of the practices and the coaches helped me understand the game and how to defend ball screens off the ball. It was a great time.

At this point in the process are you starting to feel the pressure knowing a decision is looming? You have all these coaches looking at you and probably texting you before you get off the court. Are you feeling the pressure.

I was feeling the pressure at first but my family told ,e to just forget about it and play basketball. One day it will come to me where I want to go to school and ,y family told me not to force it but just go out and be a kid and have fun.

Who will play important roles in your final decision. Your parents? I know you’re close to your brother as well …

Yeah. Just my immediate family. My coaches will play a little part, but mainly my family.

I know you’ve been asked of a package deal with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor …

I don’t know how big of a factor, but it is a factor and being able to go to school with those guys and make that program elite. I want to go to school with them but all three of us have to do what is best for our families. If it happens that all three of us go to school together, that would be the best. So, I’m really excited and if it does hold up, I will be very happy.

And which teams were all three of you considering from your list?

I think Baylor, Duke, Kansas. I think that’s it.

What is it like playing in front of all the major college coaches?

Umm. You know it’s kind of exciting at first but you just have to be yourself. You can’t go out there and just try to please those coaches but be yourself.

What are your plans moving forward?

I may take time off and the last event will be Orlando for me.

Will you take some time off in the near future?

Yes, definitely a time. I wish I had more time to spend with my family and relax at home but my team needed me, so I thought taking off the first game in North August was the best thing I could do for my body. In August or September I will keep working on my game and will take some time then for my family.

I know your family is big on education.  Have you thought about what you might take in school?

I like math and physics so numbers are my thing. So, maybe something in business or engineering. My family is really big on academics and I go to one of the top schools in Houston. So, I pride myself on that … being a competitor on the court and in the class room I think I do a lot of things good and some things great, but I think my versatility and all around game is what upgrades me from other guys.  [/private]

 

Nike EYBL Peach Jam Friday Day Session – Duke Prospects Update

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow has a monster day. Rick Crank for BDN

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC - The Nike EYBL Peach Jam is the premiere event of summer when it comes to AAU basketball in that the games count and a champion will be crowned on Sunday.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is here with his assistant Jeff Capel in tow taking in some of the nations best prospects and Blue Devil Nation is here as well to let you know how the key prospects are playing.

Here is a recap of the morning and afternoon sessions from a Duke angle -

Grayson Allen continues [private]  to be played sparingly for Each One Teach One (E1T1) but a trained eye can see he’s not getting the looks or ball when needed to be successful at a high level.

Allen went 3 for 3 from the field today and 2 of 2 from the free throw stripe where Coach Krzyzewski took in part of his game. Allen loves to drive the open lane for a tomahawk dunk and he’s done so three times while I have watched. But the bottom line is he is not on a team where he is a good fit and established players are freezing him out.

I, for one, think Allen is going to be just fine when he arrives in Durham and I can tell you that Coach K loves him and for good reason which I will elaborate more on this coming week.

Mac Irvin was playing at the same time as Allen and this meant Capel was there for the whole game and Krzyzewski for the majority of it. In fact, he split time watching two games, strategically standing in the end zone for both courts and a new prospect name could have hit the radar … more to come on that.

Jahlil Okafor helped lead the Mac Irwin Fire to an 88-79 win over the Texas Titans (Matt Jones former AAU team). The big Okafor tallied 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting from the field and he is one of the few players who has played better or stronger as the tournament grind wears on..

A worthy side notes is the fact that the Duke center prospect dished out 5 assists to go with his 5 rebounds.

Krzyzewski remained in the end zone for the 10:30 games as well and he did so to watch the most coveted PG in the country in Tyus Jones. Howard Pulley came into the game without a win but Jones scored 21 points and dished out 9 assists to lead his team to a 90-78 win over Travelers Basketball.

Today, everybody and their brother is all over the fact he will attend the same school as Okafor and I think this happens. I feel great about the Blue Devils position here and the fact that Krzyzewski has such a strong relationship with Jones.

The Malik Newman show continued where the sleek young prospect scored 26 points shooting the ball much better than he did last evening. But once again, his Jackson Tigers team, which is really weak, lost.

Texas Elite drew no Duke views today but Elijah Thomas went 3 of 7 ending the game with 8 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes of play. Thomas, who fouled out last evening was once again saddled with foul trouble where he had 4 total and his team was absolutely crushed by Team Takeover by an 82-44 score.

Not to be out done by Jahlil Okafors’ fine performance, Justise Winslow had a monster game where he scored 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. Winslow also pulled down 7 rebounds and had 6 assists for a wonderful days work.

Winslow is a well-rounded player who still lists ten schools and he said today UCLA and others were trying to enter the picture. I will have an interview up with Winslow shortly.

Houston Hoops dropped Boo Williams 78-62 where Thon Maker had 15 points and 7 rebounds for the loser. I spoke to Maker as well, so we have some interviews when I can find time to transcribe them.

Finally, Coach Krzyzewski took a look at Luke Kennard who dropped 20 point in his teams win. The youngster plays a hard nose style of basketball with that little edge of intensity. Quite simply, he likes to compete.

I will go into my thought on players a bit later, but for now, I have to prep for the evening session and then later find some rest to close out Saturdays games before taking the road trip back to Durham.

Discuss this and more on the BDN Premium message board with fellow members.

Sidebar – Coach K stood beside and chatted up Kentuckys’ John Calipari.  I sat with Johnny Dawkins for one game catching up on old times and had a chance to talk to Chris Collins as well.  Also, welcomed Mike Brey to the ACC and had a nice talk with him as well.  For the record, Duke will play the Irish once on the road this season.  Stanley  Johnson had a good game today where he dropped 34 and 14. [/private]

Q & A with Duke Prospect Kavon Looney

kavon-looneyThere are a select few players out there whom Duke is recruiting who are not on the Nike EYBL Circuit, and Milwaukee native Kavon Looney (Class of 2014, 6-7)  is one of those prospects.  I was finally able to see Looney live during the recent NBAPA Top 100 Camp, and all the raves I have heard about his play were deserved.  What I saw in Looney is a kid who hustled non-stop and was very active, always seeming to be around the ball.  Within the first five minutes of sitting down to view him. he blocked successive shots on one defensive possession and hustled to take care of any garbage or putbacks.  I usually like to watch five full games of any prospect before trying to break down his game, but it didn’t take that many views of Looney for me to realize why Duke is so high on him.  The Blue Devils are certainly in the mix for Looney and it is clear that there is mutual admiration here per his comments, but this race is a hotly-contested one.  Looney confirmed to Blue Devil Nation that he would indeed narrow his list of schools just after the July 4th holiday, and there is little reason to think Duke will not make that cut.  There is little not to like about this young man’s game, especially his desire and hustle.  With that said, premium members can read the full interview below, and I will talk more about Looney and further break down his game on the BDN Premium message boards if there are any questions.

 

How would you describe your game in your own words?

I play hard and I am versatile and I try to be tough and smart out there.

I’m hearing you are ready to cut your list to five schools.  When will that decision actually take place?

Yes, I will cut my list to five on July 5th.

Who will play important roles in your decision-making process?

My parents and [private] my AAU Coach will have influence on my decision. They’ve been in the process from the start and will be there until the end.

Where or when did you learn the game of hoops?

My Dad and my brother when I was about six or seven. We’d go down to the park and play and I would watch him. And then, since the third grade, I have been with the same AAU team.

Which schools have been the most active or aggressive in recruiting you to date?

I would say about five or six. Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Duke and Tennessee and Georgetown is starting to pick it up again.

Did you have a dream school growing up?

I really didn’t follow college basketball during the season a lot but I would watch the tournament, so I really didn’t have a dream school growing up.

Did you have a player you liked one where you would try to  emulate their style on the court growing up?

My favorite player is Kobe and I like the Lakers, so I he got injured.

Will you be taking all five of the official visits you are allotted before making a decision?

Yes, I do plan on taking all five official visits before making a decision.

What do you think of Duke?

Duke is a great school with great tradition. They’ve got a legendary coach and a great brand for school and basketball, so I am showing a lot of interest in Duke.

What are your plans for the rest of summer?

I am not sure, but I am going to the LeBron James Skills Academy and I will go to Vegas.

Do you currently have a timeline for making a decision?

Yes, I want to do it before the high school season which could be around November or something like that.

What is the most important factor that have influence on your pending decision?

I would say communication and trust. The coach who I have the best relationship with is probably where I will end up going. [/private]

 

Rasheed Sulaimon Talks USA Basketball

sheed usaCOLORADO SPRINGS, CO—On the surface, it may seem odd to put the words “sophomore” and “veteran” in the same sentence. For Duke sophomore to-be Rasheed Sulaimon, though, he’ll step into a leadership role this upcoming season after a promising rookie campaign in Durham.

An All-ACC freshman last year, the 6-foot-3 and 180-pound shooting guard averaged 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while starting most of the season in his first year as a Blue Devil.

As the squad’s best creator off the bounce last season, ‘Sheed—a favorite amongst the fan base—even carried the senior-laden Blue Devils in a few huge games, notably in big wins over Ohio State (17 points), Maryland (25 points) and Creighton (21 points).

Sulaimon arrived in Colorado Springs with eyes set on making the U.S. National U-19 team and bringing home a gold medal, while continuing to enhance his game as he gears up his second collegiate season. He’s accomplished the former and has done so against elite competition on a daily basis in practice. Fellow team members Elfrid Payton of Louisiana Lafayette, Houston prep standout Justise Winslow, Florida’s Michael Frazier, Washington-bound Nigel Williams Gross and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart—who spurned the opportunity to be a potential top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to return to Stillwater for his sophomore year—have all pushed Sulaimon immensely during training camp.

Getting into the paint and hitting mid-range and long-range jumpers consistently, Sulaimon was among the most assertive individuals on the floor in Colorado. After winning the gold medal with the U.S. U-18 team last summer, ‘Sheed has been one of the most vocal during practices, so it’s no surprise he made the final, 12-man roster.

Off the court, Sulaimon has been rooming with fellow U-19 teammates Jahlil Okafor and Winslow—two coveted Blue Devil recruiting targets in the class of 2014—making this U.S. experience all that more critical on the Duke front.

Sunday evening, the rising sophomore took time to reflect on his experience with the U.S. National Team and his performance, as well as his thoughts on what looks to be a vastly different Blue Devil team for the 2013-14 college basketball season.

Question: First off, I see that you have your left wrist all taped up today. What exactly happened?

Answer: “Yeah, just Duke basketball. I was diving for a loose ball yesterday and kind of hurt my wrist, got a little floor burn and got a big blister. I’ll be alright, though.

Question: So, it’s nothing to severe then?

Answer: “No, nothing too severe. It should be fine.”

Question: What has this U.S. basketball experience been like for you going against the best of the best in an entirely different setting like this? How does this help you grow as a player?

Answer: Well, first and foremost it’s just an honor to be here. Great coaches and top guys that I’m competing against everyday. It’s been great so far. Like I said, it’s been very competitive. I’ve been learning a lot of new terminology, and we’re already strategizing for our game plans in Prague. So, everybody is getting read and there’s been great energy here so far.”

Question: Walk me through your summer. Where have you been and what all have you been up to?

Answer: “I went home for a little bit, and I’ve just been working out each and everyday twice a day.  I went back to Duke for the K Academy and then came back home. Now, I’m here. If I don’t make it here, I’ll go to Kevin Durant Camp, but as you can see hopefully I make this team.”

Question: So, you’ll be back at Duke for the second summer school session? And the whole team will be together from that point on, correct?

Answer: “Definitely. As soon as I get back, I’m going straight back to Duke. No time off.”

Question: You have been rooming with your buddy Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor—two guys Duke is heavily involved with—here in Colorado Springs. What’s the dynamic been like between you and those two guys?

Answer: “Those guys are very mature for their age. They are great players and more importantly they are great guys. I’ve enjoyed my time with them. We have formed a bond even though it’s just been a short amount of time here. Hopefully we can continue to develop a great relationship, and hopefully we can be future teammates as well.”

Question: So have you been doing any sort of recruiting on this trip?

Answer: “You know not really. They already have great respect for Duke, the program and Coach K. I’ve been through the recruiting process and sometime it can get a little bit annoying. But I’m here for them and if they have questions I answer them. More importantly, I’m their friend and I’m just trying to be a great teammate.”

Question: What all has the Duke coaching staff said to you in terms of what they want you to work on this summer? And what kind of role do they envision for you next year?

Answer: “Definitely I just have to get better in every aspect of the game. I have to get stronger, get quicker. I’ve really been working on my ball handling skills. And I think my role will be even greater next year, especially with the loss of the three seniors and captains. Just stepping into that leadership role, I’ve been there and I know what to expect now. I’ve got to help the younger guys and help everyone be on the same page because as soon as we get back [in July] we’re working for a championship.”

Question: Next year’s squad is going to look a lot different than year’s past. Lots of athletes, lots of wings, lots of versatility. What are your thoughts on the style of play Duke fans are going to see with you, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and the rest of the team?

Answer: “Like you said, we are going to be a completely different ball club and completely different outlook than last year. We are going to be really athletic, versatile. I think our style of play is going to be a lot faster paced. We are going to press a lot, get up and down the court and space the court. We have a lot of talented players and talented scorers. We are going to be a very hard team to guard, and we’ll just space the floor and give people the opportunity to create for themselves and others.”

Question: Three promising freshman set to arrive in Durham here shortly: Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye. What is your relationship like with those guys?

Answer: “I’ve known Matt Jones for a pretty long time. He’s a Texas kid as well, so I’ve always been pretty close with him. Jabari, me and him met each other about three years ago on the AAU circuit, and we’ve always had a great relationship. He’s a great kid. And Semi is the only guy I need to get to know more. He seemed like a great person on the couple visits he took to Duke. I’m just excited. Everyone is looking forward to the season. And like I said, we have the opportunity to be a special team and have a special year.”

Question: In today’s culture of college basketball, sophomores are a lot of the time veterans. Do you plan to kind of take these freshmen under your wing this upcoming season?

Answer: “Definitely. And that’s a challenge that Coach K wants me to take. Like I said, I’ve gone through a year of this and just like guys took me under their wing last year, now it’s my turn. I’m next in line. I have to step up in that leadership role quickly here and be a leader to those guys.” 

Question: Back to the U-19 team, what are your thoughts on the style of play implemented by VCU head coach Shaka Smart and Florida head coach Billy Donovan? 

Answer: “It’s fun. It’s relentless, but I like it and I think it fits our team well with us being so athletic at every position.”

Question: Talk to me about some of the individual matchups you’ve had here at this training camp. Marcus Smart, another Texas guy, and some of the others. Who has challenged you the most here?

Answer: “Everybody here can play. Damyean Dotson [Oregon], a fellow Houstonian, Michael Frazier [Florida], Marcus Smart [Oklahoma State] and even Elfrid Payton [Louisiana Lafayette]. All these guys bring something different to the table. They can shoot, they can dribble. Marcus is strong. I’m seeing every kind of guard that I’m going to see here. I’m pretty sure the competition that we’re having going against each other everyday is as good as anything I see in the season.”

2015 Prospect Tyler Dorsey Hears From Duke

Tyler Dorsey

One of the better prospects on the west coast is 6-3 shooting guard Tyler Dorsey out of Bellflower, California.  He’s rated in many of the services top ten players in the class of 2015 and the top guard by many in his class.  In fact one of my AAU circuit friends and a well respected talent evaluator from the west coast, Dinos Tragonis, said the Dorsey would be a good fit with Duke and the way they use their lead guards in a chat we had.  Dorseys Dad was a multi sport athlete, so there is some lineage at work here.  “He’s a confident player and aggressive on both ends of the court.  I see him as a college two guard and an NBA point,” said Tragonis.  Dorsey was often seen this past weekend with the ball in his hands, meaning he was running the point as often as he was what many refer to as the shooting or two guard spot.  It was clear to me that he was still getting accustomed to the point but he certainly is what I would term a hybrid guard and hybrids have become all the rage in the college game of late with their ability to cause match up problems for the opposing team.  If you have followed the Blue Devils over the years, you realize that Coach Mike Krzyzewski does not always play traditional positions but more match ups., so I can see Tragonis point.  It was about a decade ago now that I broke a Tragonis Belmont Shores product to Duke named DeMarcus Nelson who was the epitome of a hybrid guard.  What I am saying is that Tragonis knows what kind of players the Blue Devils are looking for in that he’s had a long relationship with the staff.  “Dorsey can be as good a distributor as a scorer if he has good players around him,” said Tragonis and it was shortly after that when I noticed Dorseys knowledge of the game as he tried to direct teammates with a constant chatter to the right position on the court.  And like many good players, you could see the frustration on his face when guys were not spacing properly or when they would not carry through on the court to loosen up the passing lanes.  Anyhow, Dorsey is a young man to keep and eye on and now that he is on the radar, check out the latest on him in our interview below where he speaks of Duke contact and more.

 

Now that the contact period is open for contact with collegiate coaches again, have you heard from Duke?

They [private]  texted me early this morning. I as going to call them back during the break. They just wanted to see how I was doing at the camp saying they had heard good things and to call them when I got a chance. I forgot it was the 15th and woke up and found all these text messages on my phone. It’s going to start picking up. I will be more pro active seeking better relationships with the coaches.

Who was the first school to offer you?

Louisville was the first school to offer but no new teams in the fray.

When will you trim your list in a serious fashion?

Right now, I’m open to any team in the country and just starting to weigh my options.

Do you have an early idea on when you may ultimately make a decision of what school you will attend?

Maybe during my junior season or at the end of the summer.

Do any schools currently stand out in the process?

Arizona is standing out and USC and UCLA are the home schools and I am just trying to figure out if I want to stay at home. UConn, Louisville and Gonzaga stand out as well.

What are some of the most important factors for you when it comes to choosing a school?

It just depends on how the coach wants to play me and how he can get me to the next level mainly.

When you make your decision, who will be involved or council you on the process?

It will be a family decision with my parents.

Any visits coming up?

I have two visits to Arizona and Arizona State coming up maybe a week after the NBA camp, but no set dates yet.

Did you like the fact that Duke contacted you?

It’s kind of a big deal but the name of the school doesn’t mean as much to me as a relationship with the coach and getting to that next level while looking at who they’re bringing in.

Despite the Blue Devils contact, it is clear that there is work to be done if they continue to show keen interest. We should know in the coming month or so when Coach Krzyzewski can get out and get a view whether Duke is to become a serious player for the young prospects services. [/private]

SONY DSC

Devin Robinson hears from Duke

SONY DSCOne might think that Duke has settled in on core prospects in the Class of 2014, but they’ve started to send out feelers to other kids who may find their way onto the radar. One of those prospects is Devin Robinson, a lean 6-7, 180 pound wing from Church View, Virginia.

Robinson most recently got a call from Duke assistant. Nate James and while it remains to be seen if the Blue Devils get heavily into the mix, his play during the recent NBAPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville certainly justifies a look.

I got a chance to see him play in three games and came away impressed with his overall skill set. While his handle is somewhat of a work in progress Robinson was active in all other areas of the game.

He’s got a good stroke on offense and is an adept leaper who seems to be in the mix or near the ball more often than not. Robinson has a slender build but he seemed to be wiry strong, but he will need to bulk up a bit.

Robinson plays for the Virginia Squires on the AAU circuit, so it is not as easy to get a view of him a it is main line Nike prospects.

I think what we have here is a possible [private] back up option should Duke fail to land the coveted Justise Winslow. Oddly, one respected talent scout said he could see him fitting in the Duke system better than Winslow in a conversation I had, but the two are somewhat different on the court with their style of play and for my money Winslow is still the man.

I would have no issue if Duke makes a run at Robinson after watching him play and he said his recruitment is still open and when asked directly, he stated he would be open for Duke to get in the mix.

Look for Coach K to take a look at Robinson and a lot of other prospects in the coming month and until that time, check out the video interview below for a read on a new name on the Duke radar.

More to come from BDN Premium!  I will start work on transcribing interviews from tape tonight. [/private]