Tag Archives: Duke Basketball Recruiting Update

Landen Lucas: Like Father, Like Son

At 6’7,” Richard Lucas was an undersized center, who averaged fifteen points and nearly ten rebounds per game for Don Monson and the Oregon Ducks as a senior in the early 1990s, while battling routinely against bigger players at his position in the Pac-Ten. His reputation was that of a player willing to bang inside and out-hustle his competition on the glass, dive for balls, and sprint down the court, which made him a crowd favorite and had the Oregon faithful chanting “Luuuuke.”

Now, nearly twenty years later, Landen Lucas is a 6’9″ junior reserve post player for national power Findlay Prep. In late July, he decided to leave the comfort of home in the Portland area and nearby Sunset High School, in order to spend the next two years working on individual skill development, preparing his frame for college basketball, and getting used to studying away from home. The decision has paid early dividends, as Landen lost a significant amount of weight immediately and has seen his recruitment heat up, with defending National Champion Duke University has begun contacting him and evaluating whether there is a fit.

Blue Devil Nation watched him at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach in June, caught one of his games for the Northwest Panthers at the Super 64 in Las Vegas in late July, and recently watched him play twice at the Hoop Hall Classic. After his last game at Springfield College for the Hoop Hall Classic, BDN spoke with this son of an English professor about Duke’s recent interest in him, his development and competition at Findlay, why he looks at the unique pairing of Tim Duncan and Dennis Rodman as basketball role models, and the attributes he shares with his father.

Let’s start off by talking about the transition to Findlay.

You know it was a big transition and it would be anytime someone goes from normal high school basketball to prep school basketball, let alone to Findlay. It’s just a big jump, even in practice. It really took a few weeks to get used to everything and settle in, but now it’s fine.

Do you live in the much discussed players’ house?

No, I actually live with Nigel. We’re both from Portland so that helps.

Was it a big deal for your family, you know, you[private] moving away and trying to develop your game at Findlay?

Oh, yeah, it was definitely a big deal. It was hard for them to let me go, but they knew that it was the best decision, at least from a basketball standpoint.

Now, as I recall, you first visited there in late July. You showed up to the Vegas tournaments a few days early so that you could do a walk around of the campus and make sure you were comfortable. Is that correct?

Oh, yeah, exactly, I came early just to check it out and make sure I didn’t step on there and get a really weird feeling (laughs).

(laughs) No, that’d be terrible.

Yeah, I mean I was already ninety-nine percent sure before I got there, but I wanted to be a hundred percent sure. Once I got there, though, I knew and it was a no-brainer with the coaches they had and the facilities they offered.

Touch on the facilities.

It’s just awesome. They’ve got top notch everything. They provide you with everything you need to get better. It was the best decision I could make.

What do you feel is your biggest strength right now?

My strengths are being mobile and being a factor around the basket, both on defense and in our offense. Just being a presence.

What do you feel you need to work on most?

The things I think I need to work on are my explosiveness, you know, now that I’ve dropped the weight. This summer I want to get back in the room and work on adding strength.

You definitely look like you’ve lost body fat. The first time I saw you was at the Pangos this year in Long Beach.

Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely, but, you know, we’re just working on my body a lot. I know that, once I get to college, they’ll have me prepared and in good shape for everything.

Touch on how your body has changed from August until now.


Oh, it’s been a massive change. I dropped seventeen pounds in practically the first month. My body has dropped dramatically. The thing we’re trying to do now is add weight back, but as muscle.

Do you have any sort of timeline for how you’d like to handle your recruitment?

Yeah, I’d like to narrow it down this summer and, after that, I sift it further. Then, in the fall, I’ll take my official visits and decide.

So, this is not going to be a thing where, in a week, I’m gonna read that you just pulled the trigger and committed to somebody. You’re not gonna do that to me, right?

(laughing) No, no, no, don’t worry about that. I wouldn’t do that to you. No, no, no, that’s definitely not gonna happen. (laughing)

(laughs) I mean that’s cool. It’s your life, if you find something you like in the next week, just jump on it.

No, no, don’t worry. Nothing like that’s going to happen. I want to be one hundred percent sure about whatever school I’m looking at. Just like I did here, I can’t be completely comfortable with a school until I walk on the campus and meet with the people that’ll be a part of my life,

That’s completely understandable. It’d be like buying a car without doing a test drive. I know you’ve visited Oregon recently. What are some other visits you taken and what ones do you have planned?

I’ve been to Oregon, Oregon State, Washington. My Dad was just at Arizona St., but he was there for the BCS game. I really haven’t gotten to see too many outside of the West Coast. I think, you know, the more I go on the better.

Do you have any planned right now?

Yeah, actually, I have one planned right now. My mom and I are going to visit Harvard in March.

Okay, great.

Yeah, we’ll try to probably visit some more East Coast schools when we’re out here.

Coach Amaker is having a great season. He beat Boston College and just won against George Washington.

Yeah, absolutely, I’ve talked to Coach Amaker quite a bit.

Is there a player or two that you try to model your game after?

Yeah, I try to take a mix of people. Offensively, I really try to watch Tim Duncan and his mechanics.Defensively and in terms of rebounding, I would love to be anywhere near Rodman’s rebounding. I know he..

No, I think he’s player that you never hear mentioned because I think they’re afraid of getting tied in with his off-the-court stuff, but was an excellent rebounder and defender and should be looked at by young forwards.

Yeah, exactly, I mean I’m almost afraid to say it because then people think you don’t mind his attitude problems or that you’re crazy.

No, I think it’s an interesting answer. I loved to watch him defend and angle for rebounds.


Yeah, he loved to rebound and that’s what I’m about, not his other stuff.(laughs)


Sure, he was about 6’8.” How tall are you right now?

I’m 6’9″ right now. So, I’m a little bit taller than him, but I would love to have that talent or develop that talent when it comes to rebounding.

Now, I know your dad played at Oregon and I want to get to that in a second, but how tall is he and how tall are you projected to grow to?

My dad’s about 6’7″ and my mom’s six feet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to grow another inch or two. I’d like to be at least 6’10″ flat footed and 6’11″ with shoes on.

From a position standpoint, what are most schools recruiting as, a four or five? And which do you prefer too?

You know a lot of people come up and say, “Yeah, you could play the four” and everybody wants to play the four and be outside, but what I want to do is be a five that can play the four, instead of being a four that can play the five. I like to stay inside and I love banging against other guys. I enjoy that. It’s what I’m about. I love going out there and banging. I don’t need the status or the other stuff that some guys are looking for. If I can help my team win just doing that, then I’m happy. All I care about is getting the W. That’s all I need.

Can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself away from the court?

Well, I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and the thing is, as far as school goes, is that my work in the classroom has helped open doors for me in basketball as well. I’ve been talking with the coaches at Harvard lately. All I really do is play basketball, study, and then go to school. My mom is an English teacher and so she always stresses education.

Well, you’re clearly articulate.

Thanks, I think that by succeeding in school it’s really helped open opportunities.

Now, did she teach at your old school? Was that an issue for you at all?

(laughs) She taught when I was younger, but I was too young to…She’s actually now an English professor.

Well, congratulations.

Yeah, she’s now teaching in Portland at Portland Community College.

Who’s the best player you’ve faced so far?

Christmas. I’m not sure his first name, but, man, was he a beast to deal with.

Rakeem Christmas. Yeah, when he’s motivated and focused, he’s a great shot blocker with a very good body.

Exactly, we played Christmas’ team and he was just so bouncy, you know, and he had strength and size. He was really good competition for me. That was at a tournament recently.

Back to your dad, Richard, for a second, he played at Oregon in the 80s. They’ve just built the new arena with the, um, unique floor. Is there any pressure for you to stay in-state and play for the Ducks, either from him or the local fan base?

Oh, no, no. I mean, of course, the Oregon fans would love for me to come and play there, but, for him, as a parent, he just wants the best situation for me.

So, he’s cool with wherever you go.

Yeah, he’s cool with anything. He even let me talk to Oregon State, you know, so..(laughs)

Oh, alright, he must be if he let you talk to those guys.

You came out of the Portland leagues. Touch on the level of competition that that you now face, both in practice and on Findlay’s schedule, which is arguably the toughest in the country. It’s an amazing leap.

Yeah, it’s ridiculous. i mean it sounds bad, but, when we go to games..

It’s easier.

(laughs) Yeah, exactly, when we go to games, it still goes much easier than practice. I mean practice is so intense. We run them like we’re competing for a championship in practice and everyone is intense.

Who do you face off with or match up with in practice? (Winston) Shepard?

Yeah, I’m usually on Shepard and sometimes (Anthony) Bennett, but, yeah, usually I go at Shepard. We’ve got good competition to deal with every day. It helps me get stronger and then, with our schedule, you go against other good guys. It forces you to raise your game.

In terms of AAU and camps, what are you planning on doing this year? I’m sure that a lot of programs are going to make a run at you.

I’m sticking with Northwest Panthers. I like the coach a lot and he’s helped me and he understands me. In terms of camps, the only one that I’m really set on is the NBA.

You did that one last year. How was that experience?

It was awesome. It was the first time I was facing really top, top competition, you know. Dealing with older guys. For me to be able to deal with them, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was an honor to get invited.

Do you prefer to face-up or play back-to-the-basket?

I mean I like playing back-to-the-basket, but we’re trying to work on developing a face-up game.

Yeah, frankly, it seems as though you’re playing a lot more away from the basket here than you did at any of the events over the summer.

Yeah, well, I think they’re trying to help me develop my game away from the basket, but I do like to face-up and see the spaces and who is helping, when they throw a zone against us.

How are things going academically for you at Findlay? Excellent, I hope.

Yeah, I mean I’ve got a 4.0 here.

That’s good. I’m glad to hear somebody’s cracking a book around here.

(laughs) Yeah, yeah.

Yesterday, the local paper here ran a story about Duke contacting you.

Yeah, it frankly came out of the blue. I never really expected it.

Nate James contacted you.

Yeah, exactly, Nate James contacted me. Nate James and we’ve been in touch. He’s now trying to get to know me, you know, and my family.

You’re in, sort of, an evaluation stage.

Yeah, yeah, and, you know, he says that, from what he sees and what he’s heard, I’m the type of player they need or are looking for in the 2012 class. The thing is that the more I look at it and I’ve never really thought of them like that, but I think I could help their team out. The more I look at it. The more I understand it.

From afar, what do you know about their program and what’s your impression of Coach Krzyzewski as well?

You know, from afar, you always hear that Coach K is “the man.” It doesn’t get any better than that. In terms of the program, what I hear about the program is that they, you know, they need somebody to come in and who doesn’t need a lot of shots to be productive. Someone who can just get it done. So, I like to hear that. Results.

You’re comfortable in an uptempo running system. They’re looking to run and you’re capable.

Yeah, absolutely, if they’re looking to run than I’m looking to run, whatever they need, as long as I can help them win. I can fit in.

What do you know about the University?

University-wise, I don’t know too much about them. I’ve never been on their campus and I really don’t know too much about it. I do know that if this starts to pick up, I’m going to head out there and visit. Take a look, get a feel for it, and make sure that I like it.

Do you follow college basketball or the NBA fairly closely?

Oh, yeah, I definitely watch all kinds of basketball. I watch it all the time to try to pick up on things. Duke is on TV everyday or, at least, every game. That’s actually one thing that they talked to me about. They’re on TV all the time and their kids are in the spotlight and being interviewed and they need kids that can deal with the spotlight. They need kids that can be in that spotlight and be okay with that.

Playing at a school like Findlay helps you get used to being in the spotlight and playing in front of coaches, large crowds, and reporters.

Yeah, absolutely, that’s the thing. You’d die here if you can handle the spotlight.

Do you have any brothers, Landen?

Yeah, two of them, younger ones. There’s three of us.

Thanks for your time, Landen

Sure, I appreciate it. Nice meeting you. [/private]

BDN takes a look at Duke Basketball’s Top Five Prospects

Shabazz Muhammad makes the list of Duke Basketball's Top 5 Prospects - BDN Photo

The Duke Men’s Basketball season is in full swing but recruiting never stops for it is the life blood of any program.  Many have been asking who are the Blue Devils priorities and who are they focusing on at this time. BDN Premium clears up the picture for you by listing the top five prospects on the board.

The following prospects [private] currently top the Blue Devils recruiting board and we reluctantly rank them for you with our take on the pecking order.  These five guys are clearly at the top at this time but other names will be added as coaches take in more of their games over the Holiday’s in tournaments like City of Palms and Glaxo Smith-Kline Invitational.

1-a - Shabazz Muhammad – The only reason I list Muhammad ahead of Murphy is his potential to play great defense and his overall athleticism.  Many have said that the talented wing is a long shot but the Blue Devils didn’t get the message.  They will battle the heavyweights until the end for his services and they will meanwhile keep tabs on his brother.  Muhammad told BDN in our last interview that he was visiting for the Duke-Michigan State game but we’ve yet to confirm that now that the game is upon us. 

1-b – Alex Murphy – Over the summer Duke made  good in-roads with Murphy and they continue to stay in very close contact with the St. Mark’s star.  Murphy, like Muhammad is hoping to visit Duke for a game in Cameron provided they can work it out with concerns to their busy high school basketball schedules.  Duke likes the edge Murphy brings to the court and they hope he takes them up on their offer sooner rather than later, but look for nothing to happen until after the season if current information holds up.  He is literally tied with Muhammad at the top of Duke’s wish list.

3- Tony Parker – Another prospect Duke got closer to over the warm weather months was Tony Parker, the hulking inside presence from Georgia.  Duke needs to add some size and they love the space eater types like Parker.  In fact, it is vital that the Blue Devils add a solid front court player in this class, especially since they backed off of Tyler Adams.  Parker, like all recruits, hopes to visit for the UNC game if not sooner.

4- Rodney Purvis – Make no mistake that Duke has sparked Purvis interest and he has been a bit of a main stay at home games or at least attends more than the average recruit.  Of course, with him playing just down the road in Raleigh, it makes for convenience.  The Blue Devils would like Purvis to follow the likes of Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers and they’ll be on top of his local tournament action over the holidays.

5 – Rasheed Sulaimon -There is a drop off from 4 to 5, but  Sulaimon has impressed Coach Krzyzewski and the staff off the court in a big way but Coach has yet to really see him in action other than film.  So, Sulaimon is in the evaluation stage and if he impresses the staff on the hardwood and he fits with future personnel he will likely become a Dukie.  The reason for this confidence is that he is a huge Duke fan.

While the aforementioned names are at the top of the interest list, there are several others on the radar and we’ll discuss them at a  later date.  Again, the upcoming tournaments and high school season will determine who gets more looks.  In short, the dust will clear shorlty to reveal true prospects and then will readjust again in Spring.  As for the Michigan State game, Duke is expecting some local kids and if that changes, we’ll let you know. [/private]

BDN’s informative General Update #44 – The skinny on the recruiting front and more

Kyrie Irving vs Brandon Knight
Kyrie Irving vs Brandon Knight

In a recent poll with our members, our General Update was by far our most popular offering.  Join Blue Devil Nation Premium today and see what the buzz is about.  Our members overwhelmingly stated that Blue Devil Nation Premium was better than other subscription services.  If you’ve been on the fence, it’s time to jump in for our coverage on the AAU trail is about to explode.

Duke has put the full court press on Kyrie Irving of late and they [private] hope that their August camp will be the start to putting the nails in the coffin.  Let me take a second to remind you that all of the information this update  is sensitive and by contract cannot be shared with e-mail groups, other message boards or reprinted in any way.  Irving is not likely to pull the trigger early, but BDN Premium has learned that his Dad and uncle will make the trip as well.

The Blue Devils feel confident that they will close the deal with Harrison Barnes in due time.  Do not look for other teams to get involved any further for in my opinion, Duke is the favorite with Kansas the only other alternative.  Barnes will not participate in any more AAU events after the Peach Jam.

Duke will still look for a sixth player to add to the class and that will be a forward unlike the ones currently on the roster.  Duke is also still highly interested in Ray McCallum.

Duke is still seeking to get involved with Fab Mello, but at this time they are not on his current list.  Mello will receive an invite to the Elite camp.  BDN will attempt to get a Q & A with Mello in the near future.

The Blue Devils are also hoping to close the deal on Quincy Miller soon rather than later.  Miller soared in the rankings after Duke offered.  Of course, anyone who looks at early rankings in the class of 2011, may be disappointed as time goes on for not even the gurus have had that many views of the kids.  In fact, it’s alarming to see how some of the rankings come about and some certainly do a better job of it than others.  Anyhow, Miller is a Duke type of kid and getting a verbal from him by the end of summer would allow Duke to concentrate their efforts on the team.

The Men’s staff is about to hit the road big time.  They will have a high profile at all of the events with Krzyzewski attending LeBron James, Peach Jam and the Vegas tournaments.  I am pretty sure he’ll end up in Orlando if there are enough kids of interest and an early look at the south Florida events shows that they have more talent than in past years.  We are talking of the Showcase and AAU Nationals. Duke Assistant Coach,  Nate James and his wife are expecting a baby in mid July, so he will not attend the Peach Jam nor the Vegas events.

Many of you have asked about Duke possibly filling a lost in 2009.  There is a possibility, but only if certain prospects seek them out.  Duke will likely close out the class as it stands now, but a final move is a possibility.

Our own Andrew Slater will be covering the LeBron James Skills Academy this week and I will be at the Peach Jam later this month.  You can count on coverage from Las Vegas as well.  In short, BDN Premium will continue to show you that this is “the” place for the best basketball recruiting coverage.  Kyle Singler will be attending the James Academy and Coach Krzyzewski, Wojo and Nate will attend this event.  They’ll also take in the Adidas Take Five where Chris Collins will replace James.  Nate will then spend one day at the Reebok event.

Speaking of Nate “Dogg” James, I had a one-on-one interview with him which will go up this weekend.  There will be little rest for the coaches as Krzyzewski, Wojo and Collins will then head to a loaded Peach Jam event in Augusta.

On the football front, Coach Cutcliffe welcomed the incoming freshman class yesterday and they were put through the now infamous running drills.  According to Thaddeus Lewis all the freshman did well and took it, so to speak.  He said that Desmond Scott had been looking good and that he would get some playing time from day one.  When talking of his strength, Thad said that he had the best hands of any back coming out of the backfield.

BDN will continue to cover the football preseason as it has in the past.  IOW, we’ll regularly attend any function made available to us and will update you on the practices leading into the opener with Richmond.  We have long been dedicated to football and hope to expand our coverage with some key additions.  In an effort to put a brighter light on the program, BDN will keep 90% of it’s football information free.

You may have noticed thatt GoDuke has gone to a new cleaner look and that they are more user friendly. BDN has had some changes in the works as well.  We are redoing our front page and will be going to a new message board which is synchronized with the site, meaning you do not need to register for both.  The changes should help streamline your experience.

Also, I will be addressing the survey questions on our message board and we appreciate the responses, complaints and props.  I am happy to announce that members were overwhelmingly happy with the site with almost all who participated saying BDNP was better than other subscription sites which cover recruiting.  We will strive to keep this site ahead of the curve and when I say that, I am mainly talking about information and not so much technology.  Information was by far the one area in the survey which members pointed to time and time again.

Our site should be a good counterpart to GoDuke and free sites like DBR.  We are not in competition with Duke’s official site.  In fact, we support them.  BDN tries to fill the gaps in between and we’ll always come up with new ideas along the way.  That said, I want to thank members for their patience during the past year where I have battled some health issues and the site has found it’s footing in the direction after a sudden move.

Changes will start to appear sooner rather than later.  Jim Sumner will have his first article up next week and we hope to continue to work with writers you have come to know.  BDN will expand the free content in that we plan on bringing you the news that you used to see in newspapers on a daily basis.  We are the new or modern day beat writers in an ever changing media world and will strive be professional in our coverage.

I have put aside another project in an effort to make Blue Devil Nation the best it can be and I look forward to hearing your responses as this takes place.  After all, it is the members and readers who make up the Blue Devil Nation for we are all in this together.

Addendum – Duke has offered Roscoe Smith.  I meant to include this but kind of forgot about it.  Nate James is the lead recruiter for Smith.  Duke has  invited him the their Elite Camp.[/private]