Blue Devil Nation Premium covered the Carolina Challenge this past weekend, and this is the first in a series of reports on the top players in the state of North Carolina.
So, what's changed since the last time I saw you at the Glaxo Invitational in Raleigh?
My jump shot and my right hand.
Do you mean you're working on that more often?
Yes. I've been working on going to my right more often and my jump shot.
Has anything changed in regards to your list of schools?
Can you list them for me?
Oklahoma State has offered and Louisville has been in touch of late. I'm getting a lot of letters and contacts. I have pretty much the same list that I did in Raleigh. (See our first interview with Kimbro which is located in our premium section)
What has Coach Gaines had to say to you?
He just said I need to step up and not just be a role player.
With Christ School's heavy losses, you will likely start ...
Mason Plumlee was your roommate this past season and you obviously know him well. What has he said to you or left you with since he will soon graduate?
He just said that when you come here (Carolina Challange) make sure that you work hard and play hard because you don't know who is looking at you or who is watching you.
Who will you play your AAU ball with over the summer?
I'm playing with Loyalty out of Louisville, Kentucky.
Of course, you are from there and your Dad played for the Cards. Are you enjoying their run of late?
Yes, sir. I'm loving it.
Do you think that's your dream school?
I've started to like Louisville a lot more. I like the work they put into the game and that they never settle, always wanting more.
How do you feel about your play in the first game?
I feel like I played real well.
Are you still open to other schools besides Louisville and Oklahoma State?
Definitely. It's still early in the process.
Good luck to you the rest of the day.
BDNP overview - Kimbro has some interest in Duke [private] , but the Blue Devils have made just casual contact. Coach K sent word to Christ School coach David Gaines about what Tony needed to work on when he visited a practice earlier this past season. Coach Gaines told me that he hoped to talk Kimbro into staying local this summer and playing for an area AAU team. He stated that his Mom likely thought that would be a good idea too. Kimbro still needs work on going to his right for that will be exposed at some point. He is always around the glass and picks up a lot of garbage buckets, but needs to develop a consistent pull up jump shot. His on ball defense is pretty good for his age. He does take plays off on occasion, but when motivated shows off his talents. [/private]
Two 2009 Duke commitments Ryan Kelly of Ravenscroft and Mason Plumlee of Christ School will attempt to lead their schools to a State Championship on
Saturday afternoon. The game starts at 4:00 and is played at Charlotte Latin High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The defending champions, Christ School, who are coached by David Gaines, have played in five out of the last six title games. They will be a prohibitive favorite in that they have seven top notch college prospects on their roster. Of course, they walloped the Ravens 76-45 in an early season game in the Chic-Fil-A Classic.
Ravenscroft is coached by former Duke player Kevin Billerman who has led his
team to the state title game three times in his nine years of coaching the team. Billerman's team leans heavily on Kelly, who is asked to do it all. It would be wise for them to slow the tempo of the game.
Kelly and Plumlee have faced off several times, but one of the best showdowns was in last season Tournament of Champions AAU event. Kelly showed a variety of offensive moves and had his way in the first half for D-One Sports, but Plumlee reached down and controlled the second half to lead his Indiana Elite team team to the win.
The Blue Devil Nation was on hand for the 7th Annual Martin Luther King Scholastic invitational in Greensboro and we bring our members this synopsis of the happenings. We'll have Q & A's with the shakers coming as well. From Deuce Bello to Mason Plumlee, we bring you the latest -
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Why did Oak Hill win so easily? -Guard play, namely Mo-Mo Jones who drove it right down the throat of the Greenies defense at will. Oklahoma bound Tiny Gallon made some timely blocks and held down the middle. Daron Lamb ran as a front court player in what was basically a three guard
offense. Oak Hill scored a ton of points where the Greenies didn't [private] get back on defense. Then there was a lack of patience when the game was close for Christ School, that allowed spurts that ultimately became too much to come back from. Greenies lack of a special point guard ws exposed and their guards neutralized.
More Keith "Tiny" Gallon- While he wasn't that effective on the offensive end, his play was vital. He turned to the Oklahoma assistant and nodded with a smile after taking the ball in for a dunk over two players. Later in the game he said "I'll bet yalls money was on them," to the TV crew from Western North Carolina which was covering the game. He did so laughing. Too much moxy for Oak Hill.
Playing with a chip on their shoulder- Coming into the game, most thought Christ School was the team with a chip on their shoulder having lost a heart breaker last season against the same team. But Oak Hill players cited several newspaper quotes which riled them up. Mo-Mo pointed to a comment, "Brandon Jennings is gone," taking it as if that meant he'd be handled with ease. We will provide quotes from many of the players in a game article that is in the works.
Short turnaround - Christ School is in High Point for a game today.
Greenie support - Christ School support was impressive and at times funny as their student body sat directly behind the Oak Hill bench.
Mason Plumlee- Plumlee had 24 points but struggled from the three point stripe. The lack of three point shooters helped doom Christ School in their comeback effort and Mason was trying to put his team on his back. This caused him to force a few shots and late in the game the calls were not going his way. It was not one of Plumlees better games despite his MVP for his team, but he was by far one of the only players on a talented team to show up. He was helped by Lucas Troutman, a junior who had a nice game around the boards. His brother, Marshall played sparingly.
Coaches there - Nate James of Duke, Oklahoma, Murry State, UNC Greensboro, Harvard, South Carolina, Dino Gaudio and assistants from Wake Forest
Overheard - Assistant from Wake telling a players Father, you know I cannot speak to him talking of an Oak Hill player.
Most watched prospect- Deuce Bello, a sophomore from Westchester Country Day. You'll be hearing a lot more about this prospect. It may be worth noting that Nate James stayed for his entire game in the nightcap.
More on Deuce- He stands 6-3 and has blazing speed in making his moves like slashing through the lane. He is a quick leaper and a showboat dunker. He is very fast with the ball off the dribble and
has a solid handle. His defense needs work as does his outside shot. He looks like a top ten player in the class of 2011. He handled PG for his team, but will fit more as a wing guard in college. I was able to watch a DVD of another game he wasx in and will break him down shortly. I look forward to seeing him again. [/private]
Blue Devil Nation Premium introduces you to 2011 prospect Tony Kimbro. We have put together the most informative profile available on the web to date. We include an in depth scouting report -
One of the schools that the Duke Men's Basketball staff is quite familiar with is Christ School out of Arden, North Carolina. The main reason for the attention is 6-11 Mason Plumlee who will be on campus as a freshman next season.
There has been talk that Duke might have the inside track on his brother, Marshall Plumlee, but there is another youngster that has made it no secret that he likes the Blue Devils.
Tony Kimbro Jr. is a 6-4, 185 pound budding sophomore prospect. If the name Tony Kimbro sounds familiar, it is and not for the best of reasons for Duke fans. His Father played for the Louisville
Cardinal team which defeated the oh-so popular 1985-86 team in the national championship game in one of the most heart breaking losses for a team that won the most regular season games in college basketball history. His Dad was also named to the 1985 McDonald's All American team.
Kimbro started his career at Manuel in Louisville, Kentucky which is his hometown. He then transferred to Mount Zion in Durham, North Carolina. That stint didn't last long according to Kimbro who left after a brief stay to go to Christ School in Arden, North Carolina.
"Well, I went to Mount Zion and I didn't like it there so much because it was basically all basketball and not so much emphasis on academics. So, I told my Mom and we looked on the Internet and found Christ School, so I decided to go there and see if I liked it. When I got there, the facilities and teachers were good and you can go to them about homework 24/7 or anytime you need help." [private]
His teammate and Duke commitment Mason Plumlee had been awarded his own room as a gesture by Coach Gaines for paying his dues and or being a senior, but Plumlee offered to share his room with the newcomer and they are now roommates.
"Mason pushes me. He's kind of like my older brother, he helps me out. He is dedicated. He'll wake up at like six o'clock in the morning and go shoot shots. That pushes me to do what he does. He's showing me the ropes," said Kimbro.
"I like Tony," said a smiling Mason Plumlee. He continued, "I'm glad he came to Christ School. He was the perfect fit for our school. He is what we were missing personality wise and on the court. He's just a really good kid and he's just going to get better."
Kimbro plays shooting guard in the Greenies system and feels that may or may not be his position at the next level where he feels he could float to the three.
"My strength is getting to the basket, giving my team motivation, getting them pumped up for the game. My weakness is my right hand," said Kimbro.
When Plumlee was asked of Kimbro and the strength of his game, he stated, "His left hand is his strength obviously.
When asked what he would do to improve his weakness Kimbro said, "Coach Gaines makes me work on it in practice. He really doesn't let me go left. He makes me go right and dribble with my right hand.
"Coach K was at one of our games and said we're going to work all spring with your right hand. I think his strength is he is a good defender and he's a smart and unselfish player," said Plumlee
During the recent Glaxo Tournament in Raleigh, Kimbro admitted he was nervous in that he was playing before a crowd of that size for the first time. The budding prospect calmed down and had eight key points against Rocky Mount and UNC bound Reggie Bullock and helped his team go undefeated.
In fact, Kimbro has scored eight points or better in 13 of 19 games for Christ School and considering the fact he is class of 2011 and on a team loaded with future college players that's impressive.
When it comes time to make a college choice, Kimbro is quick to state that his Mother will have the most influence on his decision and that it is tough being away from her. Kimbro, who has two brothers said that his Father came to some of his games. He mentioned that his Father was critical and only stated what was wrong and not what was right with his game obviously being a bit dismayed. He also said that his Mom and brothers would be okay with his choice regardless of location.
There was no hesitance on his part when asked of his dream school. "Duke!," he replied in an emphatic manner as if there was little question. When asked of other schools he liked, he mentioned Kansas.
I asked what he felt he needed to do to get prepared or noticed by the nations major programs and Kimbro replied, "I need to work on my grades and keep working on my game. I need to dedicate more time to my game instead of going to parties and stuff like that. When other people are chilling around I need to work on my game."
I made it a point to ask a BDN staple question "What three words best describes you as a person." and Kimbro stated, "Loyal, hyper and dedicated." I then asked what three words or pharases best describe him as a player and he answered "Hard working, a team player and motivated."
It's very early in the recruiting process for Kimbro who has not received letters or calls from Duke at this time. But other schools like Louisville and Oklahoma State are already stating interest and if he continues to make strides with developing going to his right, he just might catch the eye of the Duke staff.
Sidebar- Kimbro said LeBron James was his favorite NBA player. According to Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier, Kimbro was the top player in the class of 2011 in the state of Kentucky.
Scouting Report by his head coach David Gaines - "There is something very special about Tony Kimbro. The first two weeks he was in school I wanted to overcoach the heck out of him. He's a lefty, he does not use his right hand to the extent that a player of that caliber should use his right hand. We talk about it a lot and how we are going to fix that. He's been able to play with one hand because he is physically so much better than everybody else. But what I think is so interesting about him is his instincts for the game. He sees things .... he's almost like a miniature version of Mason. He understands the game and sees plays happening before they happen but needs some work on his shot. He can stroke the three and defend and I think if he will let us coach him and we can harness that talent. I tell him look, you'll get a scholarship if you don't develop your right hand, but if you really want to be a player at the next level - a real player, you have to be able to use both hands effectively. He's 6-4, athletic and in the tenth grade but there is something really special about him. He has a nose for the ball and he loves the game. I don;t think work will be the issue but he's a little hard headed at times. I mean he started a very large Manuel High School in Louisville as a freshman and he comes to our team and is coming off the bench. He's accepted that and realizes he's better off being in the game at the end when it really matters than to worry about being in the starting lineup."
As has been mentioned, Kimbro is a tremendous player going left and being a southpaw often confuses his opponents. He is explosive to the rim and athletic and physical in that he welcomes contact. His handle is good but needs work, again with his right hand. He is an adept passer and a pretty good defender for his age. He's a kid worth keeping an eye on. [/private]
[private]In the long history of the Glaxo Smith Kline Holiday Invitational, last evenings contest between Christ School Arden and Word of God Raleigh could well be the most memorable game.
Christ School came from 17 points down to defeat Word of God 76-73 with every
possession being critical down the stretch and big plays were made time and time again.
Before a standing room only crowd at Raleigh Broughton High School, the two teams put on a most entertaining and competitive contest. In fact, it was one of those games where if you sneezed, you missed a great play, especially during a furious second half.
The game had it all -player and game intensity, a rocking crowd, steals and slams, multiple blocks by players in one sequence, great passing, You Tube instant classics ... well, you get the picture.
It was sort of like this - John Wall made the steal goes coast to coast in like two seconds and throws down a one handed sweeping dunk, Lakeem Jackson answers with a three point shot while blanketed with defense. Word of God got the ball up
quickly and found C.J. Leslie flashing along the baseline only to catch it and throw down a dunk. Not to be outdone Mason Plumlee throws the ball off glass, catches it in the same motion and throws down a thunderous dunk which is one of many spectacular plays that brought the crowd to their feet.
Word of God jumped out of the gates quickly with a break neck pressing defense and took a 23-11 lead after one quarter of play, knock the undefeated Greenies back on their heels.
"The first ten minutes or so, I was very upset with our lack of composure. I was more frustrated than upset, but we knew we weren't going to quit. We had to go out their and fight fire with fire," said Greenies Coach Gaines.
It seemed as if the gliding Wall was all over the place in that quarter, making several crowd pleasing plays. Wall took that play into the second quarter as well with the Rams continuing to stretch out their lead before the Greenies caught their breath.
Christ School Coach David Gaines said, "John (Wall) is the best north-south guy I have ever seen. You see it coming and we're pretty athletic, but even with two or
three guys on him or back, still I would often want to turn and look the other way because he is such a great finisher."
That was when Mason Plumlee got a scowl on his face just underneath where this writer was perched. Plumlee wasn't that productive early, but he wasn't about to disappoint those who had come to see him play.
Coach Krzyzewski, Wojo and Nate James were their having just watched Duke commitment Ryan Kelly. But a bit later his brother Miles Plumlee, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Elliot Williams entered the arena and sat just behind their coaches while adoring fans began to sneak over for glimpses and autographs.
Of course, K and company are one of the schools highly interested in John Wall and hoping to secure a visit with him. Sydney Lowe and N.C. State assistants, sat just below the Duke staff on the floor as well. They were their to see Wall and C.J. Leslie.
Back to Mason - it's as if he wouldn't be denied and his play along with some inspired minutes from his younger brother Mashall (5 points, 5 rebounds) helped the Greenies close the gap to 42-35 at the half.
"At halftime there weren't a lot of X's and O's, we made a couple of adjustments, but the challenge was that you've got to come out and meet that physicality with the same," said Gaines."
Mason Plumlee told BDN after the game, "We knew we were the better team and we got ourselves in a hole early. During a timeout we decided we were going to be aggressive and take control."
As the second half started, Word of God picked up where they had left off and Christ
School found themselves behind double digits midway through the third quarter, but that's when the Greenies dug in and adjusted to the pace.
Part of the reason for the comeback was the Greenies front court, one which started to assert itself as the game went on. C.J. Leslie had been a beast for WOG early on, but the young star was held to just 7 points in the second half.
Another boost came from Reggie King who scored 11 second half points, many key baskets during the comeback. Tony Kimbrough also added 9 points.
Word of God refused to go away until the very end in this game and they were led by the countries top unsigned prospect in John Wall and he gave the fans quite a performance, scoring 28 points, grabbing 6 boards to go with 3 assists and 2 steals.
"We came out and played our game, but in the end we just didn't finish it off. I was able to penetrate and find lanes in their defense and that helped me to make some plays and get teammates the ball where they could finish. We'll just have to learn from this experience and move on," said Wall after the game.
N.C. State commitment, C.J. Leslie chipped in with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Leslie was later named to the All Tournament team.
"I told our guys we played well for 99% of the game. Our game plan was to keep
them off the boards and we did a pretty good job of that," said Word of God Coach Beckwith after the contest. He continued by saying, "This team has made some tremendous strides in how they play together as a team."
Christ School had a more balanced attack putting four players in double figures. Reggie King had 13, Lucas Troutman 11 and another All Tournament team selection, Lakeem Jackson had 10.
After the game, the awards ceremony took place and Mason Plumlee was named the tournaments MVP while John Wall garnered the Most Outstanding Player. This was Christ Schools second Glaxo Championship.
"I'm running out superlatives. This guy (Mason Plumlee) was the catalyst to getting us back in it. Without saying anything and just through his actions he basically said we're getting back in this if I have to take over run the point, go down low or whatever. He's a winner and he competes like the dickins," said Coach Gaines with concerns to the future Blue Devil.
BDN asked Mason if he was trying to be emphatic with his dunks and he stated, "Yeah (smiling). There were a lot where I should have dunked, but went up soft and had them blocked. When I did get the opportunity I wanted to go strong."
Then I put him on the spot asking of the off the glass, catch and slam. I joked with Mason asking him if his Dad taught him that with his proud Father, Perky standing nearby. "You see a lot of stuff like that on You Tube. I saw Tracy McGrady do it in All Star games ... it's not something you practice it just worked out for me."
During the press conference Coach Gaines had said Mason took a couple of shots he wasn't sure about, but he couldn't help but glow a little bit with that statement. And while it may not have been a move his future college coach would suggest, it was surely a crowd pleasing move on a night where both teams left those in attendance with some memories.
The following is a question and answer session with Duke commitment Mason Plumlee which took place after his teams victory. Plumlee discusses his match up with Ryan Kelly, his brother Miles and
Marshall, his teams play, his spectacular dunks in his first Glaxo game, what the Duke coaches have him working on, his love for the Triangle area and much more in this exclusive one on one interview.
Let's back up to the Chic-Fil-A tournament where your team faced Ravenscroft. A lot of people wanted to make that game out to be Mason Plumlee vs Ryan Kelly, both of you Duke commitments. Were you more pumped up for that game than normal?
I was more-so because Ravenscroft was a team ... they were undefeated, we were undefeated and we just wanted to make our mark as a team. Of course people try to hype up individual stuff. We talked about it as a team ad decided we are going into every game as a team. It's not us against them. We had a game where one team had a kid that was going to a school that didn't offer Reggie, but we still attacked them as a team and not individual match ups. [private]
What's it like to have Duke Assistant Coaches Wojo and Collins watching you?
It feels good just to see them at the game. It makes you want to play well, that for sure (smiling). It's good to have them here.
I see that your parents are here and your younger brother plays along with you. Are you finding a little time to relax with them during this time?
Yeah. I've been with Miles the last couple of days. We're getting to know Durham a little bit. I like it down here.
What has Miles told you about his freshman season at Duke?
He just said it was a lot of work. He's glad he went to Christ School because it's prepared him for college as best it could be. But he said college is a whole other animal in terms of his studies. He's in Engineering
That's biting off a lot as a freshman ...
Yeah, he just says it's tough to balance school and basketball. He loves it at Duke. That's never been questioned.
You seem to have added more to your game. What was going through your head when you threw down that reverse dunk?
(laughing) Maybe not in this game but when you play against so many athletes and stuff where people try to block your dunk from behind, if you go under the rim you still get the dunk in. I probably didn't need to do it, but whats wrong with something different?
The crowd loved it ...
Has the staff told you to work on anything in particular? What have they said to you?
Coach K saw me in my final game of the Chic-Fil-A and he wants me to play with my back to the basket and get a better feel down there. "Get my behind on the block," he says, so (smiling)
Are you having a good time in high school or are you anxious to get to the next level ...
I'm loving every second of it in high school. I love my team, I love my coaches and I want to enjoy every second. I'm looking forward to Duke, but I just want to live in the moment.
Tell me a little bit about Marshall. Whats going on with him these days?
He's trying to live the day, but he's been working hard. He hasn't come into his own completely which is obvious. But he always plays hard getting rebounds and blocking some shots. He'll just keep getting better.
Do you guys ever work out together? What routines are you going through to build yourself up?
There are a couple of people on the team who are always working on their game. It's obvious who wants to get better and we work hard in high school. We go hard in practice, but outside of that we are always in the weight room or doing skills stuff.
Coach Gaines admitted to me that you guys were looking ahead to that Oak Hill game a little bit. What are your thoughts on that?
I was upset after the game last year because we lost by three. If I remember right I missed three free throws in the second half. So, it's just one of those games ... we only had two losses last year and that's one of those games we shouldn't have lost.
So, how are your parents liking the area?
They like it. They moved down for the week. Where we are from ... it's kind of boring. I'm trying to talk them into moving down here, but only if they can. I love it here. We did some last minute Christmas shopping ... it's a nice area.
Are you looking forward to the challenge against Kinston and UNC commitment Reggie Bullock?
It's going to be a good challenge and we are looking forwad to competing and hopefully winning this tournament. That's our goal.