Blue Devil Nation chatted up Duke freshmen Wendell Carter recently and here is how that conversation went.
A lot of changes since I last saw you on the Nike circuit. You've cut your hair. Are you going to keep it short now?
I don't know, I don't know. We'll see how it's feeling. I might row it back out in a little bit.
What has been your biggest adjustment so far?
Time management. We are out here and basically on our own now. We are required to get to practice and class on time. You don;t have your parents to reinforce what you have to do, so time management has been my biggest adjustment.
I am looking at a rebuilt body.
How did that come about?
A great coaching staff, weight lifting and my trainer has us on a great eating plan. So just taking care of your body and doing a lot of work in the weight room.
What do you think your role will be this season? I mean nobody has likely ever played with this many big men who can all play.
We are all kind of looking for our role right now. Me, Marvin and Marques and Antonio are all looking at what we can do to better fit the team. It is kind of like a gray area where we are trying to figure it all out, but we are really great friends off the court, so I think we should be fine.
(Grayson Allen walked by and gave Carter a solid whack on his rear about this time. To his credit, Carter just played it off as a smiling Allen walked away.)
What do you think about that?
That's just Grayson.
What has he been like as a leader so far this year?
He's been a really great leader and somebody I can talk to on or off the court. He is just easy to relate to and has a great sense of humor, but he knows when it is time to lock in and when it is time to have fun.
Who is your go to guy among the assistant coaches?
Umm, shoot... if I had to pick one I guess it would be Jeff Capel. I mean he recruited me and we had the greatest relationship out of all the coaching staff. So, that is someone I can go to when I have problems.
What are the coaches emphasizing?
The biggest thing they are telling me is I've got to run. The game is a lot faster than it was in high school. It is more so like you just have to go out there and play and not over think the game because the ball is going to find the right person.
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The nation's top rated prospect in the Class of 2018, R.J. Barrett, has announced his decision date. Barrett will choose his collegiate destination on November the 10th of this year,
Much like current Duke player, Marvin Bagley, Barrett reclassified from his original 2019 class and still remained the top rated player. Barrett led his Canadian National team to a Gold Medal over Team USA this summer and is a can't miss prospect.
His decision is slated to happen in his home country of Canada with friends and family. Barrett will be able to sign a letter of intent for his decision date falls within the November national signing period which goes from the 8th until the 15th.
Barrett can score in multiple ways on the court and is a versatile athlete. He is a game changer for whichever team lands his services.
Duke most recently had an in home official visit with Barrett. Most consider the Blue Devils a favorite to land the outstanding talent with Kentucky just behind. Oregon is also recruiting the 6-7 Barrett.
Barrett visited Duke for his official visit last month and reports say that visit went well. There is always a possibility he could move the date of his decision but it will likely come on a signing day show if it remains as is.
If the Blue Devils were to gain his services, he would join point guard Tre Jones and WF Cameron Reddish to make up a dynamic trio in Durham.
Duke is also considering other top rated players in the class and will entertain a bevy of prospect for the upcoming Countdown to Craziness.
Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have been getting their share of top rated stars by getting them to the NBA in short order. Duke had three first round draft picks a season ago and will have more this season where mass defections are expected.
For more on Barrett, check out Blue Devil Nation Premium where we discuss recruiting in more detail.
Tre Jones selected the Duke Blue Devils as his college destination. The Minnesota native is the top rated point guard in his class having blown up on the shoe circuit in his senior season.
"Today, it's not about me. It's about my tomorrow. And my tomorrow will be at Duke University," said Jones just minutes ago. He was flanked by his two brothers and his mom Debbie.
Having another Jones in Durham should excite the Duke fan base in that they are proven leaders and winners. Jones, brother, Tyus helped lead the Blue Devils to their fifth national championship under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Tre Jones is considered to be more athletic than his brother and is known as an in your face defender. Jones can flash down the lane and finish with the dunk to go with his adept passing skills.
'' There is a little bit of advantage just having seen them more in depth and how they handle a season. With Tyus there I got to see it up close and personal and it was a fun year,'' said Jones earlier this AAU season when asked if his brother being at Duke helps their efforts.
When Jones was asked to describe his game, he stated, ''A leader. I bring a lot of intensity on the defensive end and hope that carries over.''
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]
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]
There 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]