Tag Archives: Duke Basketball Prospects

Top Prospect Rasheed Sulaimon is High on Duke

Rasheed Sulaimon is one of the nation's top guards in the class of 2012. Sulaimon took time to talk in depth about the recruiting process with BDN and you didn't need to prompt him to say good things about Coach K and his program. Sulaimon will visit for Countdown to Craziness on October 15th and BDN Premium will keep you abreast of the lates happenings leading into and after the event. It

Standing close to 6-3, Duke prospect Rasheed Sulaimon is often referred to as silky smooth, versatile and a throwback player to days gone by.  Sulaimon possesses the rare mid-range game which most kids no longer work on in this day and time, and the major schools are starting to recruit him hard.  Sulaimon sat down for an in-depth interview with Blue Devil Nation where he states that he grew up a Duke fan and that he is more than just a little excited to be visiting Countdown to Craziness on October 15th.  Sulaimon opened up in the interview and that allows you to get a really good feel for his character and thought process on the recruiting front.  He spoke of Kansas and a recent visit to Texas and, well, you’ll have to subscribe to BDN Premium to read a very interesting interview you are sure to be pleased with.

Suppose that the audience has never seen you play.  Can you describe your game in your own words?

I would describe myself as a competitor.  Every time get on the court I play hard and 100% offensively and defensively and have one common goal and that’s to win.  So, whatever it takes for my team to win I do.  I like to create for myself on offense but am always looking for teammates and I like playing defense.

And your go to move would be?

Yes, I really like the pull up jumper, so my mid range game is my strength.

So, you are a bit of a throw back player.  Do you feel that sets you apart from other prospects?

Yes, I believe so because now days the mid range shot is a lost art.  Everybody just wants to be three point shooters and slashers.  I do like to mix it up because I can shoot the three but if you cut me off going to the rim I have that mid range game to fall back on and those are high percentage shots that are hard to [private] stop.

What are your goals with concern to basketball?

My goal right now for highs school is to win the state championship and be a leader, but down the road I want to go to a great division one college that has great academics and basketball.  If I’m blessed enough, I will one day make it to the NBA.

Did you have a dream school growing up?

I was sort of a Duke fan.

Do you pattern your game after any particular players in the pro or college game?

I like Kobe Bryant and watch a lot of his games where I try and, well, you know, it’s kind of hard to emulate him, but I try to pick up what I can there.  I like the way he goes to the rim.

So you are a big Lakers fan?

Yes, I like the Lakers.

Now, you recently visited Texas.  Can you tell me how that visit went?

The visit went great and I met with big people down there like the Athletic Director, the president of the school and academic advisers.  I was there with my family and we got a chance to see what Texas was all about and developed a better relationship with the coaches and the players, going to a football game and overall is was great.

Have you had any other unofficial visits in the past or recently?

Yes, I went to Texas A & m, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  I have been to Baylor also and I will be going to Duke on October 15th.

So you will be going to Countdown to Craziness.  Are you excited about that?

Oh, yes sir, I am excited about it.  I just want see historic Cameron [Indoor Stadium] and how loud it gets.

Speaking of Duke, let me ask you about ACC schools for those are the ones I normally cover.  Have any other ACC schools been in contact with you besides them.

Yes, I have been contacted by Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

Out of these schools which do you have the most interest in?

Who do I have the most interest in out of those schools?  Well, I like Georgia Tech and North Carolina out of those schools … including Duke.

Are you planning on taking visits to those schools as well?

Um, as of yet I do not have anything planned but I will likely visit those schools.

Do you have a timeline for the process and making a decision?

As of now I am just talking with my family, so we’ll make a decision when it feels right.

Will your parents be most influential in your decision or will you talk to coaches or others for input?

My parents will be most influential in my decision and also my high school coach Wayne Jones who has been a mentor in my life.  Those are the main people I will share and make my decision with.

Do you enjoy the recruiting process?

Yes sir,  it is really an inspiration to have so many great coaches call and want to talk to me, so I am really enjoying the process.

Back to Duke, who have you been talking with from there?

I first got contact from Duke from Nate James and we’ve developed a really good relationship through calls or messaging and he’s been to my school once to see me.  And then Coach Wojo came to my school this past Monday.

I guess you’re looking forward to meeting Coach K next week?

Oh, yes sir.  I talked to him on the phone about two weeks ago and I was very excited to speak with him and he said he couldn’t wait for me to come down there and meet, so that really made my day.

If you visited say a North Carolina or Duke and they just blew you away, would you think about committing with somebody early?  What kind of school do you like and what kind of feeling do you need to have from a school to know you want to go there?

Well, if I take a great liking to a school I will greatly consider them and a committment, but like the trip to Duke, I’ll be going there by myself.  The school I want to commit to I want my parents to consider as well.  So, I don’t want to do it before my parents can see the campus and develop a relationship with the coaches.

You will have five official visits, do you think you will take all of those?

Right now, I’d say yes, but that might change in the future.

What are you like off the court … tell me a little about yourself as a person?

Well, I take my academics seriously and have a 3.71 GPA.  Off the court, I just like hanging out but when I am free I generally work out and try to get better at my game.

Have you thought about what you might like to take in school?

Yes, possibly business or business management, but we’ll see.

Can you give me a list of schools that have actually offered?

Yes, UT [Texas], Texas A & M, Baylor, Memphis, Indiana, Oregon State, Arizona, Georgia Tech, um …

So, quite a few?

Yes sir.  I am sure I left out a few.

And there are several schools showing interest …

Oh yes.  Kansas has been showing a lot of interest.  Coach Dooley and Coach Manning have been visited me this year and Coach Self is going to make it down to see me practice.  I’ve been hearing a lot from Kansas, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Stanford and also got an offer from Stanford or will be accepted if I apply.

How do you handle so many heavy hitters now getting involved in the process?

Well, I see it as a blessing and I just have to remain humble and keep working on my game for them to keep showing interest in me.  It’s challenging because you don’t want to get big headed, but just being around my family keeps me grounded.  I just keep working because I haven’t done anything yet.  I am just a high school basketball player trying to make a name for myself.

When did you first learn your basketball skills?

I have been playing this game since I was two, shooting on the little Fisher Price goals. When I was four that was the first time I played organized basketball with six year olds.  I work out with my Dad and in the fourth grade I started to working out with a trainer and he is still with me.

Wow!  That’s a long time and some serious work. So, your Dad kind of taught you your skill set?

He’s kind of like a rebounder when I put up a lot of shots.

Did he play basketball?

No, he actually played soccer but he was a very big basketball fan.  He’s from Nigeria so when he came here to the states he started taking an interest in basketball.

I see.  Nigeria has produced a lot of really good soccer players at the college level and beyond here.

He came here in the eighties and lived in New York but we moved down here to Houston.  He likes the Knicks.

So, there is no real time table at this point?

Yes sir, I feel like I might make a decision about this time next year, my senior year.

Tell me a bit about your high school team and the coming season.

Two years ago we had a really good team and lost in the state semi finals and last year we made a big strong push in the playoffs and fell just short of going to state.  From that team we lost three guys, so we’ll have some experience this year after being very  young a year ago.  We’ll have to work hard.  Our only disadvantage this year will be our height but we have a lot of guards who can shoot and defend.

Will you be forced to play more in the paint?

I’m still going to play the one and the two but on defense I will probably have to be on the block on zone, so I will be called on to rebound more this year.

What position do you see yourself playing in college?

Uh, you know, I just see myself as a good combo guard because I feel comfortable playing the point or off guard spot.  Whatever position a coach wants me to play, I’ll feel comfortable playing.

You said you were in a tournament the other night the other night, right?

Yes, actually there is an article on the event on ESPN, an article by John Stovall I think?  It was called the Super 16 Extravaganza.

I appreciate your time and we’ll check back in with you down the road.  You sound like a really good kid, grounded, talented and wherever you ultimately decide to go to school, I am sure you’ll succeed.

Well, thank you sir, I really appreciate that and I hope you have a good night.

The bottom line - In my opinion Duke has the inside track on Sulaimon early on and if the visit to CTC blows him away – and it likely will – I would not be surprised if his parents didn’t make a return trip in short time if he is offered.  The mere fact that Wojo went to see him after James might be Coach K’s way of seeking more input and approval.  I am not privy to what Wojo saw, but Coach K did make the call and this a player they are seriously considering.  He is often compared to Daniel Ewing and I have only beamed in on his game three times on the AAU circuit.  That said, I do not feel I can give you a solid take in that you are all aware of my five view rule before making a strong analysis.  In short, I like to see a prospect play in a variety of situations, fresh, tired and such.  Sulaimon will follow up with BDN after his visit and we’ll have an even better idea of what Krzyzewski thinks of the young, high character prospect.  Some might call him a good program kid, but his work ethic could make him much more than that.  Sulaimon beamed when talking about Duke and I approached him as Sports Nation Network in order to get straight answers, but I did tip my hand and tell him the interview would go on a Duke site once finished.  It’ll be fun to watch and see how this one develops and we’ll keep you informed along the way. Also, FTR, his name is pronounced as it looks “sul – lay – mon.”[/private]

Prospect Update – Amile Jefferson to attend Countdown to Craziness

BDN Premium has the latest from Amile Jefferson - Photo property of BDN Photo

One of the top players out of the state of Pennsylvania, Amile Jefferson has many schools trying to gain his services. The forward had a great summer AAU season in which he impressed almost everyone who came out to watch him.  During the AAU season, Amile also played alongside Duke recruit Savon Goodman. The two have built quite the chemistry playing together.  BDN got a chance to speak with Amile and discuss his summer, recruiting as well as his interest in Duke.

First off  could I get your current height and weight?

Sure, I’m about 6’8, 185-190lbs.

You had a busy AAU season.  Can you tell us how your summer went?

I think my summer went well. I played on a really good team this summer, Team Philly.  We did very well I thought.  We played great as a unit and we played up and did a lot of damage and we won a lot. We went out to Vegas and we won that and I thought it was big, how we played as a team. I thought I did well leading our team and being the leader, keeping the guys [private] on and playing hard.

Did you enjoy your time in Vegas?

Oh yeah, definitely.  It’s a little hot at times but I enjoyed it!

Definitely some big time heat. Earlier this summer you played at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.  Did you get a chance to check out any of the schools or their facilities?

We actually played in Cameron, and you know that was about it.  I didn’t check out either of the schools down there.

Can you give a current list of schools that are recruiting you right now?

Sure. Villanova, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Florida State, Georgetown, Duke, Stanford, most of the Philly schools have been in contact a lot.

Do you have any sort of timetable for making a decision?

I’m not sure as of right now.  As of now I haven’t been on one unofficial visit outside of Philadelphia. I’ve talked to coaches starting in June when they could call, but as of right now I have no idea where I want to be.

So you had an open gym yesterday I believe? Is that correct?

Yeah, we were supposed to, I believe, but we didn’t.  Yesterday was actually my first day of school, and we didn’t.  But assistant coach Nate James did stop by and I did get a chance to see him briefly, but we didn’t have the open gym.

Have you spoken with any of the Duke coaches?

Well I went to Duke’s camp back in freshman year, so I got to talk with most of them there.  And James has called me as well.

Now when you eventually do make your college decision, who will you look to to help with that decision?

I’ll definitely look to my family.  Especially my father, he’s been on the AAU circuit with me since the beginning. Everywhere I’ve been, he’s been. Definitely my head AAU coach, he’s given me a lot of advice and I’ve been playing with him since I’ve been about 10, so I definitely will look to those two. Lonnie Lowry, he runs our AAU squad basically, so I’ll look to him.

Just one last question now, do you have any visits planned for the upcoming college basketball season?

I’m hoping to get to a lot of stuff this fall.  I’m hoping to get to Duke.  Countdown to Craziness I believe it is?

Yeah, that’s what it’s called.

Yeah, I’m hoping to get down there to start to get a feel of schools so I can start to think of where I want to be.  So, hopefully this fall will be a busy one, and hopefully I’ll be able to get out and see some schools.

Alright, thanks a lot Amile, appreciate your time.

Yeah, no problem.

Watzone’s take - Duke is still following the progress of Jefferson who brings some very attractive skills to the table and is a solid character kid.  The hold up could be his size where he needs to put on some muscle and show interest or take to the weight room.[/private]

Q & A with star 2013 prospect Rodney Purvis

One of the kids who is already considered a star from the class of 2013 is Rodney Purvis [6-2,170 PG] who plays his high school ball for Upper Room in Raleigh, North Carolina.

How would you describe your game in your own words?

I’m real unselfish and like to get to the basket and dish out to my teammates.

Now, you’re close to the youngest guy here. 

Yes sir, 2013.  I just turned 16. [private]

What are you like off the court?

Outgoing, like to have fun, hang out with friends, all the right things.

Where did you learn your basketball skills?

They just came along.  I was growing up and playing in my grandma’s backyard and somebody said, hey this kid can play and people started working with me.

And what do you think of the camp to date?

I’m honored to be here, first and foremost.  I’m kind of used to it now, playing with older players, so it aint nothing …

And where do you play in high school?

Upper Room in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Did have a dream school growing up?

Carolina because they were always the best school and I’m a big Vince Carter fan.

What schools have shown interest to date?

Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest offered me, VCU, Xavier and Baylor have offered me …

A lot of people coming at you early …

Yeah

You mentioned Carolina as a dream school, does that leave Duke out?

Naw, I’m open to both of them.

What do you like about UNC?

The tradition.  The winning tradition they have and their history.  Coach Roy, he’s a great coach.

And what about Duke?

Same thing.  There’s nothing you can dislike about them.

Have you ever been to games or visited either school?

Yes, I went to Carolina when they played Miami and I went to the Duke Elite Camp.

How are your grades these days?

I’m always on A-B honor roll, but I’m trying to get principles list.

Good job!  There have been a lot of really good players  come out of the triangle of late.  Do you want to follow in the footsteps of say a John Wall or …

Yes, yes.

What are your goals in life?

I’d like to play in the NBA.  Most people just want to be in the NBA but I actually want to be good in the NBA – a great player.

What are the strengths of your game?

Getting to the basket and being able to dish to my teammates.

And what do you need to work on?

My pull up or mid range jump shot.

What position will you play for your high school team this season?

Uhm, everywhere.  It helps me because I’m forced to do some things.  With my high School team I’m the leader, but when playing in AAU for CP3, I’m playing with older guys, so I take a backseat, but I’m prepared to take a leadership role.

I know it’s a long ways to go at your age, but any idea when you would like to make a college choice?

It’ll be a last minute thing.  I’ll take all five official visits but will likely decide late.

Who will be involved with that choice?

My mom, coaches, family and whatever God has planned for me is what I’ll go with.

So if your dream school UNC offered would you jump?

No.  I’ll wait it out.

A lot of kids end up at schools they rooted against.  What if you were to sign with Duke?

[laughs] I’d be hated in North Carolina.

What did you take away from the camp?

I just got better in every area mentally and on the court.

Thanks for your time. [/private]

BDN Premium gets to know Rashad Muhammad during the recent Pango’s event

Rashad Muhammad - A. Slater, BDN Photo

Rashad Muhammad is the younger brother of the much heralded Shabazz Muhammad, HoopScoop’s top ranked player in the class of 2012, but he is not  overshadowed by his family’s extensive athletic bloodlines. Rashad’s father, Ron, played basketball at Southern California and his mother, Faye, was an All-American in track at Long Beach State. His older sister, Asia, who spent time at the Agassi Academy, is a budding tennis professional. The youngest Muhammad is a 6’4″ guard, from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, NV, who will team with his older brother in a bid to bring the school three consecutive 4A state titles. Last weekend, he competed with Dream Vision at the Bob Gibbons AAU tournament in North Carolina and toured the schools of the Triangle region. This past weekend, he was invited to the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, California. The rising sophomore played well enough to be selected to the Top 50 Cream of the Crop Game, one of only three members of the class of 2013. After the game, Rashad spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of topics including his recruitment, how he compares, competes, and plays with Shabazz, and his favorite school growing up.

It’s very early in the process, but what schools have expressed interest in you and do you have any firm offers so far?

I have two offers already from USC and Northwestern. I’ve gotten a lot of interest from UNLV, Arizona State, and Arizona as well as USC and Northwestern. There are a lot of other schools showing interest, but those are the only two offers.

What position are those schools looking at you for? What do you like to play?

I’m really more of a one now. I’m trying to learn it. I’ve played the two before, but I just want to learn the one right now.

What’s your current height and weight?

I’m 6’4″ and 180.

Who’s your favorite player?

My favorite player is Kobe Bryant. Yeah (laughs)

How about competing against your brother? That’s got to be a unique experience.

Yeah, it is. We always clash, but [private]  it’s all good. (laughs) I know he’s one of the top players in the country.

You help him out as much as he helps you.

Yeah, that’s the way we feel. It helps us both I think.

Now, do you guys work out together?

Yeah, we work out everyday.

Is that in Vegas or…

It’s in Vegas.

What do you feel are the similarities and differences between you two guys? I had never seen you before this camp, but I have seen Shabazz.

Oh, really, he’s more like an old-fashioned player. He tries to slash to the basket and play inside too. I think I’m more comfortable playing either on or off the ball. I can hit the open jumper.

What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I need to get a little stronger that’s my weakness. I think my strength is my shot. I can shoot the ball pretty well.

Now, can you shoot the ball better than him?

Oh, yeah, yeah (laughs).

What about your father? How does he help out?

He helps us a lot with our workouts. He gets on us and pushes us. He was a former player so that helps.

At USC?

Yeah, he played for USC in the early eighties.

Growing up, did you have a favorite school?

Oh, yeah, my dream school growing up was Duke, but right now I’m looking at a lot of schools.

Have they indicated that they’re going to pursue you? I know it’s very early for them and for you, but you were out there last weekend.

Yeah, we were out there, but maybe in a couple of years or whatever. We’ll see.

I know they don’t offer kids until later in the process. What was your impression of the school, after getting an opportunity to see it up close?

I liked the way they played and the facilities. It was really nice and then we went over and saw UNC.

Did you see the campus at all?

Oh, yeah, we saw that too and just had a nice tour. It was cool.

Last year, for whatever reason, they had you play on the JV team and put up big numbers. I know they’re a great team and they’re going to move you up this year. Talk about that and have you guys ever played together for an organized team?

Well, besides the middle school team, yeah, it’s the first time we’re going to play together.

How do you think that’s going to work?

We play really well together. We know each other. I think it’ll work out alright (laughs). We work well together.

Are you guys interested in playing in college together?

It’s something we’ve thought about we’ll see. We still have time. I’d definitely be interested in that.

Well, I’m sure some Duke fans are hoping you’ll get to play together at your favorite school.

(laughs) Yeah, yeah

In this game, you knocked down several open threes. Do you feel completely comfortable shooting all the way out to the three point line at this point?

Yeah, I think that’s my range right now.

Thanks a lot, Rashad. It was nice to meet you.

Yes,[nodding] thanks a lot [/private]

Future Duke player Michael Gbinije talks of his development

Gbinije took in a game at Cameron and then chose Duke - BDN Photo

HAMPTON – The Blue Devil Nation caught up to Michael Gbinije who recently committed to Duke during the Nike EYBL session I which is the first event to kick of the AAU season.  BDN will be following Duke prospects and those who have signed with the same vigor we do the football and basketball teams.  In fact, our coverage set the standard for Duke sites last season and we promise you that will continue.  We’ll have a scouting report up [private] on Gbinije on our premium message board shortly.

Just press play -

Next up Tyler Adams says Duke is his leader. [/private]

BDN Premium – Amile Jefferson talks recruiting

Amile Jefferson Duke
Amile Jefferson, 2012 prospect from Philadelphia, PA

One of the top players in the class of 2012 is Amile Jefferson of Philadelphia, PA, Friends Central High School.  Jefferson stands 6-6 and weighs in around 190 pounds.  Jefferson’s versatility and upside has college coaches jockeying for position as he starts to take a serious look at the process.  In a our conversation, Jefferson said he adheres to a constant work ethic in order to make his game better.  He was happy with his teams high school season and ready to continue his hard work.  Jefferson said he would once again play for Team Philly on the AAU circuit.  At this time, Jefferson really doesn’t have a true position but he played the power forward slot for his high school team.  Jefferson is a bit of a tweener right now, but he is still growing and should fill out in the coming years.  Despite what some consider to be a slight frame, Jefferson is not a kid who backs down and one analyst said he is lean but stronger than he looks.

Suppose somebody has yet to see you play.  How would you describe your game?

I would probably describe my game as still coming along, but skillful and versatile.  I play a lot with my back to the basket but I’m starting to face up. [private]

You are starting to climb in the rankings, how do you stay grounded with all of the hype?

You have to stay grounded and keep working or one day it’ll be here and the next day it can be gone.

When will you get serious about your collegiate decision?

Most likely I will sit down this summer and think about the pro’s and con’s of different schools.  We’ll [his Dad] figure out who we want to concentrate on and get to know the schools and the coach.

You mentioned your Father earlier, is that who taught you most of your basketball skills?

Uh, in a way.  I have been playing since I was about ten and I’ve also been playing for the same team that whole time.  So a few people work with me and as it has gone along, I’ve gotten better.  I’ve had a lot of great people helping me.

Do you pattern your game after any particular player?

No, not really.  I just like to watch good basketball players and to learn the component’s of their game and add it to my game.  So, I like looking at the best point guard but at the same time good big men to learn different skills.  I watch how guards come off screens … you just look at the best and try to emulate their game.

How do you feel about where you are as a basketball player?

Versatility is really helping my game come together and it is an on going process.  I still am not close to where I need to be as a player, so I will continue to put in the work and get better every day.

What kind of student are you in the class room?

I’m an A-B student.  Education is important to me.

You attended some skill camps this past summer.  I know Duke was one of the camps you attended.  How did that go and did you attend other camps?

I had a great time at the camp and the few hours  I was there, probably 48 hours, I learned a lot and I think the camp was a success and I had a great time.  It was great competition and I would love to go back.  Other camps, I went to Penn State’s camp and Syracuse over the summer and they were both really good as well.

Has Duke remained in contact with you?

Yes, they’ve [coaches] have been up to see me play in open situations and occasionally call.

Any type of school that you like best?

At this point I am really still wide open.  I have yet to figure out what kind of school I want to go to, let alone what conference.  It’s great to see that people are showing interest but it is still a bit early.  Hopefully everything will work out for the best.

Being a Philly guy is there any added pressure to stay close to home?

No,  not really.  I’m not sure yet if I want to stay close to home or if I want to go miles away.  Right now I’m just happy living in the moment.

Do you have a preference when it comes to style of play?

It’s still a learning process for me and I am trying to learn what type of play or system best suits me.  I like the up and down game but there are times when you have to be in half court sets, pressure the ball … I’m just not sure right now.

What is Amile Jefferson like off the hardwood?

I like being with my friends, my basketball buddies.  On and off the hardwood, I hang with my friends on the team.  It’s basketball and school for me.

As of right now, no.

Thanks for your time …

Thank You.

Final Word – Jefferson is wide open but Duke should get a very serious look as will Syracuse.  Several schools are interested, Virginia Tech is his latest offer.  We had an awful phone connection which made it hard to get into a flow.  which[/private]