Tag Archives: Duke Basektball Recruiting

Jahlil Okafor updates his status with BDN

Jahlil Okafor USABBCOLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Traditional, back-to-the-basket big men of elite caliber are becoming synonymous with rare across the basketball landscape. And that’s precisely why Jahlil Okafor—the top-ranked player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN—is one of the more unique prospects to come through the prep ranks in recent years.

The Chicago product has been a known commodity for years, garnering high-major offers as an underclassman. The Duke coaching staff pulled the trigger abnormally early by extending him a scholarship during the fall of his sophomore year.

Increasing hype and media attention has been the norm since then, but for good reason. The Whitney Young High School superstar is a throwback center with a wide body, soft touch, impeccable footwork and a diverse arsenal of scoring moves on the low block. He possesses legitimate NBA size and power for the center position at 6-foot-11 and 270-pounds. To top it all off, he’s an intelligent player who predicates his game on winning rather than individual achievement.

The Blue Devil coaching staff has swung and missed on a handful of its priority big men on the recruiting trail these past few years, which makes its chase for Okafor all that more important, as well as [private] compelling. Fair or unfair, there is a widespread stigma of Duke’s inability to utilize and produce quality post players circulating around the college basketball landscape. For years, Blue Devil fans have pegged Okafor—who has unofficially visited Duke twice in his high school career—as the player to change that perception in Durham. To up the stakes even more in the recruitment, Okafor has strongly contended that he will attend the same school as his close friend Tyus Jones—the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2014.

Eight schools occupy Okafor’s list of prospective college programs: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Due to a recurring ankle sprain, Okafor has been forced to miss much of the action of this spring on Nike EYBL circuit with his AAU team the Mac Irvin Fire.

Along with fellow prepster Justise Winslow, the almost fully healthy Okafor is one of just two high schoolers vying for a spot on the U.S. U-19 National Team, which is headlined by mostly rising sophomores in college. During practices, it was evident that Okafor was one of the best players on the floor and will likely centerpiece of the team hungry to claim the gold medal.

Following Monday morning’s practice, Okafor sat down to update Blue Devil Nation on his experiences with the U.S. U-19 National Team and with where things stand in his recruitment.

Question: We’ll start with the U.S. U-19 team experience. You are one of the youngest guys in the gym here. How has playing up help enhanced your game this week?

Answer: “It’s been great. You know I have improved so much this week going against these top college players. The coaches in Billy Donavan and Shaka Smart are really helping me develop. I have improved a lot over these last four or five days.”

Q: Who are some of the tougher matchups you faced one-on-one here at the training camp?

A: “All these big men are tough. Jarnell Stokes [of Tenneessee], [Mike] Tobey [of Virginia], Montrezel Harrrell [of Louisville]. You know everybody here is tough. They are really strong, but it’s a lot of fun. And it’s very competitive.”

Q: Have you learned anything new about your game having gone up against these more mature players this week?

A: “Just that I play better when I play with other great players. It helps me elevate my game. So the better the players are around me, the better I play.”

Q: Looks like you have lost a little bit of weight since I last saw you in Hampton, Va?

A: “Yeah, I have lost a little.”

Q: How has that helped benefit your game especially since it appears that this U-19 team will use a fast-paced, full-court pressure style of play as much as possible? And is that style a little bit different that what you are accustomed to in high school?

A: “Yeah, definitely. I like it. It’s something new. My AAU team, we get up and down. I have been getting in shape to get ready for this experience, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Q: And what is your official height and weight at nowadays?

A: “I’m 6-foot-11, 270 [pounds].”

Q: I understand that you have been rooming with Justise Winslow and Rasheed Sulaimon. What has that experience been like with those guys?

A: “It’s fun. We just talk a lot, crack jokes. It’s a lot of fun.”

Q: Is ‘Sheed doing any recruiting?

A: “No. ‘Sheed doesn’t do that. He pretty much knows that he can’t really affect our decisions. We’ll ask him questions about Duke, and he’ll answer them. But he doesn’t try to recruit us. If we ever have any questions, he’ll always give us a truthful answer.”

Q: Do you know who you’ll be rooming with going forward on this U.S. team?

A: “I’m not sure at this point. They decide our roommates.”

Q: You’ve had an ankle injury that has sidelined you for a good amount of this spring. How is your ankle doing right now?

A: “It’s doing pretty good. I missed a lot of the Nike EYBL sessions just because it was a high ankle sprain, but it’s doing really good now. I have a lot of great trainers here who are really helping me with it and getting it stronger.”

Q: After this stint with the U-19 team is over with, what are your basketball plans the rest of the summer?

A: “Win Peach Jam. I’m very confident that we can, so after we win a gold medal with this U.S.A. team I want to win the Peach Jam.”

Q: Let’s get to your recruitment. Baylor is one school that is scheduled to receive an official visit from both you and Tyus Jones. What all went behind choosing Baylor as a school that gets one of those five official visits?

A: “I just really like Baylor and what they have to offer. Coach Drew is a very energetic coach and I really like that. Baylor is a Christian school, so you that’s what my family loves so much about it. And the campus is just amazing. I’ve seen pictures and they’ve sent me a little video. I just want to experience Baylor and see what it is like.”

Q: So, have you ever visited Baylor before?

A: “No, I haven’t. Tyus has visited there before, and he just told me that we should definitely go see it because he thought it was really great.”

Q: And does Tyus have a cousin or some sort of relative that is connected to Baylor in some way?

A: “His cousin [Jared Nuness] is a [basketball] coach at Baylor.”

Q: Do you have any other official visits set up? Or do you have any idea as to what other schools you want to take official visits to?

A: “Not really, no. I have been busy and haven’t been able to set any more up yet.”

Q: What sort of criteria will you use to decide which schools get those last four official visits?

A: “I haven’t been able to really focus on that a whole lot on it lately, but it’ll probably be a combination of things: the coaching staffs I’m most comfortable with, seeing what Tyus and my parents are thinking, things like that. We’ll see.”

Q: What’s the communication between you and coaches been like these past several weeks? Has it been pretty busy with coaches blowing up your phone?

A: “It’s been pretty busy. Some more than others I guess. I hear from the coaches about the same as far as frequency. I’ve talked to Coach Capel. Coach K was here [in Colorado Springs] and he spoke with me a lot—not about Duke—just about improving out here and what I should do to get better. I’ve talked to Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arizona here lately too.”

Q: What has Duke and Coach Capel been communicating to you about here lately?

A: “Just seeing how I’m doing, catching up. He was telling me that Coach K told him that I was playing well here. [Capel] was just telling me to keep it up, keep working, keep improving, and don’t have an attitude out here that I’m a young guy. Act just like I’m another player out here.”

Q: Kansas just hired Jerrance Howard, who obviously has a lot of ties to the state of Illinois. Do you have any sort of relationship with him? And if so, how does that affect your recruitment?

A: “You know it doesn’t hurt having him over there. You know he was one of the first coaches to recruit me. When he was at Illinois he offered me a scholarship. I’ve known him since like eighth grade, freshman year. I’m really close with Jerrance and him at Kansas doesn’t hurt at all. I’m happy that he’s there.”

Q: And why wasn’t Tyus able to participate in this Team U.S.A. function?

A: “He had some family issues going on, so he couldn’t make it.”

Q: Are you and Tyus any closer to determining a timetable for a college announcement?

A: “No, we aren’t really.” [/private]

In depth interview with prospect Shabazz Muhammad – “I can’t wait to visit Duke again.”

The Blue Devil Nations Andrew Slater brings home an in depth interview with prime Duke target Shabazz Muhammad. If you thought you knew it all about Muhammad, think again. BDN Photo, BDN Premium is a premium information subscription service of BDN.

Andrew Slater’s in depth [2000 word] interview with Shabazz Muhammad is the type of offering which makes BDN Premium your choice for Duke Basketball Recruiting information.  His reports continue on our message board where I am sending back info from the Peach Jam as it happens.  There is one day left on our trial offer, so take advantage of it and see the BDN difference for yourself

Shabazz Muhammad is a 6-5 rising junior who was born in California.  Muhammad has yet to win Nevada state titles in each of his two years of high school basketball at Bishop Gorman. The first-team All-State wing averaged nearly twenty points and ten rebounds per game during this past season. The gregarious and competitive Muhammad was the first player in the class of 2012 to receive a scholarship offer for basketball from Duke University. His parents were both high-caliber athletes as well. His mother, Faye, is in Long Beach State’s Hall of Fame for her contributions in both track as well as basketball and his engaging father, Ron Holmes, played the wing at the University of Southern California for Coach Stan Morrison in the early 1980s and currently helps to coach Shabazz and his younger brother, Rashad, for their respective DreamVision AAU teams. At the recent Adidas Invitational, in which he averaged more than thirty points per game, Shabazz graciously spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a multitude of topics, including the advantages of being both left-handed and genetically blessed, his sister Asia’s burgeoning tennis career, and fellow Duke recruit, Alex Murphy.

Let’s start with the most basic question. What schools are coming after you hardest right now?

Pretty much a lot of schools on my list are coming after me. Texas, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Louisville, Duke, and some I didn’t name, but I’m just looking to play hard, play with a purpose, and I know pretty much all of these schools are looking at how I play.

There were plenty of coaches out there today.
Yeah, and so I’m going to go out there and try to perform.

Do you have a timeframe for when you’d like to decide by?
I don’t know yet, but I’m going to try to get some more visits in. I think it’ll be this upcoming year, my junior year, though. [private]

What is going to separate the schools for you?
Probably not the location. It’s a good thing that I’ve been traveling all over the world and all over the states so  that we can get to go around to the different places. I’m just looking for an up-tempo offense, the coaches, and the style of play.

So, location is definitely not a factor for you.
Oh, no, I’m just looking for their style of play and whatever university fits me.

What about some other things?
I think the style of play will be very important and the relationship i have with the coach. I like when a coach is really talking to me. I like it when they are really talking to me on the phone. That’s really what it will come down to.

Who do you try to model your game after?
I really tried to look a lot at Kobe this year in the NBA. I watched his mid-range game and the pivots he does.  I tried to watch him throughout the playoffs against better competition and in the Championships too. I tried to watch his one or two dribble pull-up this year and that’s what I’ve been trying to work on this summer.

Well, you hit one near the baseline using that move in this game.
Yeah, thanks, I’ve just been working on that stuff for the past few months because I know in college I’m going to have to play the one, the two or the three

Do you have a preference in terms of a position?
Well, I like to play the two because I like to handle the ball, you know, grab rebounds and start the breaks. Wherever my coach puts me at, I’ll do whatever he needs me to do.

I only have seen you with your summer teams, but you have been able to have a very effective inside game by using your strength, particularly your upper body strength, against threes and twos.
Oh, yeah, well, I think I’m pretty big for my position and so I try to use that to my team’s advantage against these smaller players.

I saw your brother, Rashad, a couple of weeks ago at the Pangos Camp. He’s got a completely different game and body type than you.
Oh, yeah, totally.

He’s a good spot-up shooter for his age.
Well, we’re trying to get him to play the one and..
 

Now, he said he was a better outside shooter than you.
Oh, no way (laughs hard)

I didn’t put that one down, but I’ll make a mental note.
(Laughs hard) I’d kill him.

Alright, we’ll move on. Who will you be seeking guidance from most before you do decide?
My dad absolutely..he’s on the coaching staff

Sure, sure. An ex-USC player
Yes, absolutely, he’s an ex-USC player and he just tells me what to do out there. He tells me to go play hard and do the best you can do out there.

Anyone else?
My mom too

The former track star at Long Beach
Yeah, absolutely, you did your research (laughs)
Who’s the best player that you’ve faced so far?
When I was with Adidas Nations, I faced a lot of good guys.

Internationally or..
No, mostly from our country. Really, all the top guys from our country so I just tried to go after them.

What are your strengths and weaknesses at this point?
My strengths are going inside, rebounding, ball-handling, and one or two dribble pull-ups. I think I have some weaknesses. I mean I think I had some weaknesses, but I’ve been really working on them. It’s getting to the point where I really don’t have any.

Oh, really. So, we’re dealing with a  confident player here.
Yeah, yeah (laughs hard)

What are your goals for this summer as well as the upcoming season? You guys have won back-to-back state titles.
Yeah, my goals for both teams are to simply win as many games as possible. On the high school level, we have a nice schedule, including some ESPN games. So, I’m definitely looking forward to those games and winning those.

What are your expectations?
Really big expectations

Oh, and who are those teams that you’re going to be playing on ESPN?
I know we play St. Pat’s and then we go to City of Palms and we play a few national teams there I know.
Obviously, you guys travel quite a bit now during the summer, but, during the downtime, what do you work on in terms of preparation or skill development? What do you work on these days?
I work with my dad at the gym and

At Bishop Gorman or..
Sometimes at Gorman, but also at Impact Basketball with Joe Abunassar.   Yeah, I work out with him. I think that’s been really good. I mean the strength and conditioning stuff has been really good. I think I’ve really improved by going there.

That was one thing that Rashad said that you guys regularly worked out against each other for two to three hours a day. That’s got to help both of you drive each other.
Oh, yeah, definitely. It helps us both out.

What’s your go-to move?
My go-to move is probably either my two dribble pull-up or my spin move. My spin move is probably it, but I also like to see what my opponents weaknesses are and try to attack them.

Can you talk about your visit to Duke?
It was really nice. I saw Coach K out there and so I really tried to be on my game today, but I’d like to go back to Duke and visit it again and see the campus. I was there for the game against North Carolina and it was really wild and had a great atmosphere.

What about the offer, when it came down?
It was exciting to get an offer from them. I look forward to going back there and talking to Coach K.

What was your impression of him?
Just a smart guy. Wise. He’s worked with Kobe and LeBron, and all of those guys and that’s the kind of coach that I’d like to be around.

I heard that you were going to try to watch those guys practice and play when Team USA practices out in Las Vegas.
Oh, yeah, I’m definitely going to be there. I’m going to try to go and steal some moves from Kobe (laughs hard).

Do you feel like you have a bit of a target on your back right now, between the various offers and rankings?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve got to continue to be a gym rat, go after it, and stay in the gym.

Academically, are you doing all right too?
Oh, yeah, I’ve earned a 3.0 or a 3.1 so far.

What advantages do you think you have as a left-hander? Do you think it’s an advantage?
Oh, yeah, the first play of the game the guy goes up and doesn’t realize I’m a lefty and it helps me to block shots or surprise defenders a lot too. You can always get an easy steal just off of being a lefty (laughs).

Since I asked him for one about you, can you give the audience a scouting report on Rashad?
He’s a one, but versatile. He’s a really skinny guy that hopefully he can put some weight on.

Would you like to play with him?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was on varsity this year and he was on JV. We’re looking to push it up the court this year.

Between you two guys and Rosco Allen, Gorman should be very tough to beat in Nevada.
Yeah, we should be.

How’s your sister, Asia, doing? I know she turned pro a few years ago and came out of the Agassi Academy.
Oh, she’s doing good. She was home schooled and then skipped college and went to the Tour. She’s been really traveling and trying to get after it.

It’s so hard to break through on the pro circuit.
Oh, yeah, yeah, it is, but she’s trying. She’s watching Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova and all of them. (laughs) She’s never at home. So hopefully she can get up here soon.

Is she playing well still?
Oh, yeah, we’re just looking for her to break out of that shell and hopefully get up there.

Do you ever play tennis or did your dad?
Oh, I tried, but I have no shot (laughs hard).

You guys have both been a part of that Adidas Nations. How about playing with or against the other guy they’ve offered in that class, Alex Murphy?
Oh, yeah, that’s my boy, Alex.

He played relatively well against Quincy Miller’s team this morning.
Oh, really. Yeah, I played with him at Adidas Nations.

Can you a scouting report on Alex?
Oh, okay, I mean he’s 6’8.” He can shoot and handle the ball. He’s very dangerous. He’s the real deal.

Getting back to your family for a second. Can you talk about your father and also the impact of having such quality athleticism on both sides of your family?
I think it really helps. I mean they used to call him “Dr. Sky” back in the day (laughs) and my mom, being a track star, probably helped our speed too.

The complete opposite from my parents. What would you like the audience to walk away knowing about you?
That I’m a good person and humble.

Except with no weaknesses.
(laughs) Yeah, well, that I always try to stay humble, go in the gym, and work at it. I love to work at it.

Well, it looks like it’s paid off for you. Thanks, Shabazz.
Thank you. No problem at all. [/private]

Blue Devil Nation Premium focus on 2012’s top rated prospect, Andre Drummond

One of the kids everybody wanted to see at the Tournament of Champions was Andre Drummond, a 6-10 hulking prospect in the Class of 2012.  In fact, Prep Stars rated him the number one rising junior in the nation!  BDN Premium caught up with Drummond and got his thoughts on the recruiting process.  His handler stepped in to answer some of the questions as pou will hear on this [private] BDN Audio interview.

Just press play –

More to come.  [/private]