Tag Archives: Blue Devil Nation

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]

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]

Big Man Prospect Payton Dastrup Shows Keen Interest in Duke

dastrupRising senior Payton Dastrup has had a bevy of high-major hoop programs calling him over the past year. But on Tuesday the 6-foot-10 and 230-pound big man’s camp finally heard from a program he’s had a strong affinity for: Duke.

“Coach K is legend, maybe one of the best if not the best coach in history,” the Mesa, Ariz. native said [private] two weeks ago over the phone. “He’s sitting on the top. Overall, the Duke coaching staff and the program is definitely high on my list.”

A polished post prospect with an ability to stretch defenses from the four spot, Dastrup saw his recruitment explode after a stellar series of performances last spring on the AAU circuit, which he has since built off of to push his scholarship offer count to 21 at the moment. Describing himself a “rebounding machine,” the devout Mormon—who runs with the Los Angeles-based California Supreme squad on the Nike EYBL—holds scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Virginia, USC, and Arizona, while he continues to garner increasing interest from Kansas, Ohio State, Georgetown and Indiana, among many others. Jayhawk head coach Bill Self attended all of his games in Los Angeles during the first session of the Nike EYBL session.

Despite the heavy interest from a multitude of programs, Dastrup has not narrowed his list of schools down yet.

While healthy, Dastrup has averaged 12.7 points on 54 percent shooting from the field and 7.8 rebounds per game in his first year on the uber competitive Nike EYBL circuit.

Back in April, Dastrup—the No. 38 overall player and No. 7 power forward in the class of 2014 by ESPN—had a golden opportunity to showcase his game to Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was perched front and center to watch coveted point guard target Tyus Jones of Howard Pulley take on Dastrup and California Supreme in Hampton, Va. during the second session of the Nike EYBL. A dislocated ankle injury, however, kept Dastrup on the sidelines for that entire weekend, an experience that was agonizing.

“It was frustrating. I took it the best I could,” Dastrup said in regards to the injury and being forced to sit out. “I had to help be my team’s support system. On the bench I was the loudest.”

Closing on its primary big-man targets has been difficult lately for the Blue Devils. Tony Parker, Mitch McGary, Austin Nichols, Marcus Lee and Tarik Black are some of the more deflating misses experienced lately. On the surface, Dastrup fits the Blue Devil profile at position that is at a premium. He excels in the classroom and possesses ideal size and athleticism to be a valuable asset in a high-major frontcourt, not to mention his upstanding character and a grounded personality.

A large driver in his humbleness, faith plays an integral role in Dastrup’s recruitment. As a deeply committed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dastrup is gravitated to the Blue Devil program due to is its receptiveness to Mormon players, in addition to it being one of the premiere academic and athletic intuitions in the country. Krzyzewski coached Matt Christensen, a fellow member of the Mormon Church, in the 1990s. Beginning in July, Krzyzewski and his staff will instruct incoming freshman and devout Mormon Jabari Parker, who is the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2013 according to ESPN.

The Mormon and hoops connection has led to a friendship between Dastrup and Parker.

“I consider us friends. We have texted. We have talked on the phone a little bit, sharing some of the similarities in the recruiting process,” Dastrup said. “We have gotten to know each other pretty well. He’s an unbelievably humble guy. I have kind of patterned myself a little bit after him I guess you could say. Our relationship has definitely grown over the years.”

Unlike Parker, who is not expected to serve on a Mormon mission trip, Dastrup plans to do a two-year mission immediately following his high school graduation, which will delay his arrival on a college campus until the fall of 2016. The hiatus from the hardwood, however, will give a program a mature, 20-year old big man with four years of eligibility remaining. With no social media or use of phones for two years, Dastrup wants to sign with program that has a very stable coaching situation before he departs for his mission.

“The things I’m looking for the most [in a school] is to be able to come in as a freshman and either contribute as a starter or a significant role player,” he said. “Also, having a solid relationship with specifically the head coach, but also the entire coaching staff and being assured that the whole staff is committed to that program and not wanting to take a job somewhere else. Academics are really high with me too.”

The Duke coaching staff has offered 2014 elite big man Jahlil Okafor, a projected one-and-done player. Hybrid forwards Kevon Looney, who is more of a big wing, and Trey Lyles—another potential one-and-done prospect who seems to be a long shot to end up in Durham—also hold offers from Krzyzewski. So, there looks to be room for more 2014 Duke frontcourt offers to be extended as the staff gets a better feel for the big men in the class.

With the spotlight now brighter and Duke in the picture, Dastrup will compete in this weekend’s NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

And luckily for Dastrup, California Supreme eked its way into the Peach Jam thanks to a 53-51 win in the final game of the Minneapolis EYBL session, giving him a chance to prove himself in front of the Duke coaching staff during the most intense live evaluation period of the summer. [/private]

2015 LA Backcourt Star Tyler Dorsey Talks Recruiting

Tyler Dorsey 2Tyler Dorsey is an exciting 2015 combo guard prospect now playing at traditional power St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA, just a few quick freeway rides from his home in Pasadena.  Duke has initiated contact with the young combo guard, but it is still very early in his recruiting process.  Dorsey's game is smooth.  And he seems to have a very good sense for the flow of the game and that allows him to anticipate the game and stay a step ahead of his opponent.  He's grown a couple of inches so now has excellent size for the point guard position, which is where he would like to play.  It remains to be seen if Duke will show major interest, but Dorsey has landed on many schools radar and has a growing list of suitors.  He is a friendly and outgoing young man, as comes through in the following interview from the Pangos All-American Camp this past weekend.

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More to come.

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