Tag Archives: Duke Basketball Recruiting News

National Talent Scout Van Coleman Sizes Up the Prospects at Pango’s

Van Coleman is one of the most well-respected scouts of high school basketball talent in the land.  He has long been a friend of Mark and BDN.  He took in the action last weekend at the Pango's All-American Camp in Long Beach, and was kind enough to give me his impressions of a number of players of interest, their strengths, areas to improve upon, recruiting outlook, and other good stuff.  Here it is:


Van Coleman at Pangos, 2013


One Man’s Impressions from the Pangos Camp

Pangos logoWe'll be along shortly with a video of veteran scout Van Coleman's take on some of Duke's actual or potential prospects, and I'm certainly not a professional scout.  But I did spend a fair amount of time last weekend watching these kids play in multiple games and in case anyone's interested, here's what I saw:


Stanley Johnson was the MVP of the camp, and deservedly so.  He's a solid-bodied, athletic SF/wing, and the thing about Stanley is he really, really competes hard.  Nobody is outworking this guy.  He has really worked on his outside shot, and it is much improved.  He was hitting them all weekend, but nowhere more visibly than in the end-of-camp all-star game, where he nailed 4 3-pointers from range.  But I think he's at his best taking it to the hole.  He's strong with the ball, he can play through contact, and he's just relentless in there.  Johnson is also a serious defensive player, locking down mostly opposing 3's, but also can play 2-guards easily and in the all-star game was matched up with bigtime PF Elijah Thomas inside.  Johnson plays at a very good high school (Mater Dei) and in a top quality AAU program as well (Oakland Soldiers) and comes from a solid background.  I spoke at length [private] with his father, who is a smart and thoughtful guy, and says that while he will have input, the decision will be Stanley's to make.  Duke is in his list of 8, and it's between Duke and Kansas for the fifth and final official visit -- Stanley said that the first four have all been recruiting him longer and he thought they deserved a visit for sure.  I would not expect a decision too soon.  The other thing is that Stanley has an outgoing personality and was clearly one of the most popular kids at the camp.  People around him all the time -- likable kid.

Colorado point guard Josh Perkins, also Class of 2014, helped himself perhaps more than any other player in this camp.  He was just super.  He's the main guy that I didn't get that I would've liked to get an interview with, but just couldn't squeeze it in at the end.  But his game: his handle is tight, and man can this kid dish it.  He really, really sees the floor well.  Stats don't mean much from this camp, because other than the all-star game the games are played with a 40 minute running clock, so they're short.  But in one game, Perkins amassed 17 assists.  And these are to kids he perhaps has never played with before, as the teams are just put together for the weekend with kids from all over the country.  Perkins also has a solid outside jumper to complement his outstanding floor game, and he's a natural leader out there.  Perkins is fearless going to the hole, and finishes well.  He'll even be better in that department when he gets a little stronger, and he should be in the weight room to do so, but he has time.  Defensively that would help him, but it's not like he is a liability or anything at that end right now.  Good overall athlete.  Despite his transfer to Huntington Prep in West Virginia, right now Josh seems to be focused more on west coast schools -- UCLA, USC, and Gonzaga (among others) are involved, and undoubtedly he is aware of Duke's pursuit of Tyus Jones to play the point out of this class, but I had heard earlier that Duke was interested in him as well, so we'll have to see where this one goes, if anywhere.  As far as point guards go in this class, there is Tyus and there is Emmanuel Mudiay -- who everyone seems to think will end up at Kentucky -- and Perkins is right at the top of the next group.  He's not at the level of Jones or Mudiay, but he's not as far behind them as he used to be after what he showed this past weekend.

I caught a little of 6'6" wing Jalen Lindsey this weekend, but not as much as I would've liked, making it disappointing that, though selected, he did not play in the all-star game.  I think he had to catch a plane.  In any event, he has a very smooth outside jump shot and is athletic.  Doesn't get beaten much on D.  But I see him as being a little passive out there.  He has a tendency to hang on the perimeter too much rather than force his defender to play him all over the floor.  I would like to see him get stronger and more importantly, get more aggressive.  He's highly skilled, but he doesn't impact the game as much as he could if he were to change his mindset a bit.

Moving to the 2015's, obviously Elijah Thomas, PF out of Texas, was the man.  He has a wide body, wide, round shoulders, and soft hands.  And an ample derierre -- in a good way.  He has a knack for scoring in traffic, with a soft touch.  He has lost a lot of weight so is in much better condition.  I could easily see him gaining 20 pounds of muscle too, and being just a man-child at 255 pounds or so.  Not baby fat, but muscle.  He's a lefty, but I saw him shooting FT's right handed all of a sudden, and when I talked to him about it, he told me that he considers himself ambidextrous.  Huge plus for an inside player to be able to shoot naturally and shoot well with both hands.   I won't be surprised if he ends up a top-5 player in the Class of 2015.  Just like Stanley Johnson, Thomas is really an outgoing personality, lots of people around him, kids laughing with him all the time.  His high school team at Prime Prep in Dallas is going to be a monster this year, and his AAU squad has been solid in the EYBL events, so he'll be center stage at the Peach Jam at the end of the summer.  He has a lot of the top schools in the nation after him, and he seems like the kind of kid who won't be in a rush to make his decision.  But he mentioned Duke prominently in our interview, and that can't be a bad thing.

I got my first look at 6'11" Stephen Zimmerman out of Bishop Gorman High in Vegas -- that's Shabazz's old school.  He doesn't look like much standing on the sidelines, long neck, thin, gangly, holds one arm a bit funny that he told me resulted from breaking it as a 2 year-old, but it's a whole different deal when he steps on the court.  The left-hander looks smooth and polished on his 15 foot face-up jumper.  He somehow powers through guys underneath and scores in traffic.  He has good fundamentals -- when he catches it high, it stays high.  He's very athletic and showed it by catching numerous poorly thrown alley-ooops and finishing them anyway.  Oh, and he had one of the weekend's highlights when he got a pass about 10 feet out, took one dribble and just threw down right in the face of this 6'10" kid named Idrissa Diallo out of LA.  Lots of oohs and aahs on that one.  Defensively, he showed that he already understands and can execute concepts such as the show-and-recover.  Underneath, he doesn't just put his arms up and hope for the best.  He challenges shots.  Zimmerman is only about 215 pounds now, but he hasn't even begun to fill out.  With his frame, I can easily see him at 235 or 240, and Van Coleman said he could see him at 255 or 260.  The kid is more reserved than many others.  While he gets along well with the other kids, in the interview I had with him -- and others confirmed this as well -- he is not all that forthcoming with information.  His mom and dad were here for the whole weekend, and perhaps have coached him to play it close to the vest, which of course is his decision to make.  He's also really just busting out now, so this level of attention may be so new for him that he's not sure how much to divulge.  That's understandable as well.  Stay tuned on this one -- the camp director thinks Zimm is really a Duke-type of kid.

Tyler Dorsey is a skilled 2015 combo guard out of Southern California.  He's from Pasadena but is playing down at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, which is a traditional power.  Dorsey has grown several inches and now at 6'4" has excellent size for a point guard, which is where he's focused on developing his skills.  He held his own this weekend when matched up with Emmanuel Mudiay, taking it to him for an and-one, not turning it over, finding teammates frequently, and hitting the open J.  There's a smoothness to Dorsey's game.  He never seems rushed or in a hurry and seems to see the floor very well and know where guys are going to be.  Reminds me a bit of Kyle Anderson (now at UCLA) in that way, except he's much more athletic than Anderson.  But with his strength and power, Mudiay was tough for Tyler to handle defensively, but then again Mudiay is tough for every point he plays against to handle defensively.  While it's very early in his process, Duke has initiated contact with him, and Tyler told me that he really looks at who the coach has put in the league at his position.  He is quite aware of the name Kyrie Irving, let's just leave it at that.  As you can see in the interview, very nice and respectful kid as well.

Finally, there is Thon Maker, the 7 footer, class of 2016, originally from the Sudan, then Australia, now at the Carlisle School in Martinsville, VA.  He is incredibly long, with a huge wingspan. And very, very thin.  I saw him play at the EYBL in LA a few weeks ago, and he didn't make much of an impact.  Then in his first game at the Pangos camp, same thing.  Many minutes would go by and he would just run (gracefully) from end to end but not really be involved in the action.  When he did get the ball, it was usually 20+ feet from the basket, and what Thon did show out there was a surprisingly good handle, going between his legs, crossing over, all of that.  But then he would try to get too fancy and he turned it over a number of times.  And he really likes to hoist up 3-pointers.  I think all weekend I saw him make one or two, but he missed a lot more than that.  Funny thing is, he has a really good looking stroke, both from the FT line and beyond.  Very good mechanics.  But obviously that's not where a 7 footer, especially at this level, should be playing.  That said to me that he needs to learn his game and play to his strengths much more.  That's a matter of coaching, in a big way, as he needs to learn how to play the game and how to approach it properly.  The kid is athletic, no doubt.  He's very thin so he can be pushed around.  His handler from Boo Williams says he's already gained 35-40 pounds, which is almost hard to believe, but that he plans on putting another 35 or so on Thon.  We'll see if his frame can handle that.

But getting back to his game, I must say that as the weekend wore on, he got better.  He got more aggressive with his post-ups, he held position better, he took the ball to the hole some, and he was very aggressive on the boards and in going after shots at the defensive end.  He really seemed to turn his energy level up, which was really good to see.  If a kid this tall with arms this long, who is already athletic, can bring passion and energy to the defensive end, challenging shots and making life very difficult for the opposing offense, he's going to be a major presence.  And then if his coach can get him to learn a post move or two, look out.  Get him off the three point line, get him on the blocks, so that he'll be a true inside-outside threat.  Keep in mind, the young man is not only not from this country, he's only just finishing up the 9th grade.  Plenty of time to grow, both on and off the floor.

For you guys who like to follow national recruiting, some other guys who were impressive, in no particular order: Leon Gilmore, 6'7" out of Texas, Craig Victor, 6'8" out of New Orleans, Alex Robinson, good looking point guard out of Texas, Kodi Justice, 6'5" shooter out of Arizona, PG Emmanuel Mudiay of course, who is just so strong for a point guard, he can shoot it and he just plays very physically -- he's a handful, but the question is: is he a floor general?, Jabari Craig, 6'10" out of Atlanta, Daniel Hamilton, 6'7" HS teammate of Tyler Dorsey and brother of former Texas guard Justin Hamilton (Daniel has already committed to UConn), Carlton Bragg 6'9" out of Cleveland, Dwayne Morgan 6'7" committed to UNLV, 6'5" Rashad Vaughn, clearly one of the top players in the class of 2014, maybe the best and smoothest SG out there, co-MVP of camp all-star game with Mudiay, being recruited hard by among others UNC (even with Theo in tow), 6'7" Terry Larrier out of Pennsylvania, who was a big surprise but really impressed, and Chris McCullough 6'9" uber-athlete already committed to Syracuse --they've got a real good one here.

From a Duke perspective it was just a shame that Kevon Looney and Myles Turner couldn't make it.

That's it, guys.  Great weekend of hoops and hope to provide more down the line.

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2015 LA Backcourt Star Tyler Dorsey Talks Recruiting

Tyler Dorsey 2Tyler Dorsey is an exciting 2015 combo guard prospect now playing at traditional power St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA, just a few quick freeway rides from his home in Pasadena.  Duke has initiated contact with the young combo guard, but it is still very early in his recruiting process.  Dorsey's game is smooth.  And he seems to have a very good sense for the flow of the game and that allows him to anticipate the game and stay a step ahead of his opponent.  He's grown a couple of inches so now has excellent size for the point guard position, which is where he would like to play.  It remains to be seen if Duke will show major interest, but Dorsey has landed on many schools radar and has a growing list of suitors.  He is a friendly and outgoing young man, as comes through in the following interview from the Pangos All-American Camp this past weekend.


More to come.


Plain and simple, Tyus Jones is a winner

3HAMPTON, VA -- One of the things you can depend on when watching Team Howard Pulley in action during the Nike EYBL circuit, is that point guard Tyus Jones is always going to show.  I've covered the AAU circuit in person for about a decade now, and along the way there have been a few special players who always seem to have their team in the game and with whom you can feel confident that when the ball is in their hands at crunch time, good things will happen.

The best prospect I have ever seen in this regard was former Duke PG Kyrie Irving, now an NBA stud.  Irving, though, was special and that made you want to watch all of his games.  Jones may [private] not be in Irving's elite class, but he's not far from it, for he has that gift of squeezing out the best from his teammates, even when they are not the most talented bunch.

More so than ever this EYBL season, Jones has had that special presence.  He wants the ball when the game is on the line. Whether it is scoring the ball, getting off a tough pass to a teammate, or finding a way to get to the line, Jones thinks on the fly with the best of them. And he demonstrated all of that this past weekend in Hampton.

Another thing I noticed is that Jones is starting to get his opponents' best shot every time out, as players try to prove themselves against the best, in front of the various talent evaluators at these events, and boost their own rankings in the process.  One such game where Jones stood out was a match-up against Wisconsin Elite and star guard Rashad Vaughn, a fellow Minnesota standout being recruited by the likes of UNC and others.  The two went at it all game long in front of a bevy of America's best coaches, including Duke head man Mike Krzyzewski, who never missed a minute of any of Jones' games.

In a close, high-scoring game, Jones once again took over down the stretch. It started on the defensive end with a key steal, leading to his drawing a foul which helped Howard Pulley tie the game.  With a minute left in the game and the score tied, Jones wiggled free for a three-point dagger.  A game Wisconsin Elite team answered, cutting the lead to 81-80, but Jones iced the game with another three-pointer, giving his team an 84-80 win in one of the session's better games.

"Up and down, more of a motion offense and style," Jones stated post-game when asked what kind of team he wants to play for in college. It was easy to see from his performance that this is a kid who could man the controls with ease for a program like Duke.

As you have seen in our other interviews, Jones is saying he wants to make a Fall decision, but if you are looking for a tip on where he is leaning, you are unlikely to get it from the many interviews he does.  Jones is quick to crack a smile but he has a serious poker face as well. He knows how to navigate the unsteady waters of recruiting and the recruiting media just as effectively as he does a defense when he enters the lane.

"In the college game, I just try to watch all the point guards and take bits and pieces from each one.  In the NBA, I love watching Chris Paul and how he takes apart the game," said Jones post-game.

It's no wonder why Krzyzewski has taken such a liking to Jones and wants to coach him, for he is a good Duke fit and a player the Blue Devils would like to grow even more.

When asked what he would work on as the summer begins, Jones said, "Just overall speed and strength."

Jones is a cool customer on the court, never out of control and an assist machine.  In the past, it's amazed me how much he stuffs the stat sheet in that his smooth performances are not choppy in nature but almost like a silent, steady killer.  In other words, you think he has 16 and 5 only to find out he has 28 points and 12 assists.  He just blends in without being overly flashy like some players try to be in an effort to be noticed.

I joked with Tyus, whose mom liked the name from having heard of former UCLA guard Tyus Edney, that he was like "Jack Frost" on the hardwood, cool and deadly.  That earned a little smile for he is not the type to pound you with cocky assertions while being interviewed.

"I'm just trying to make plays, that is what I am always trying to do.  My teammates have been playing great this weekend, so I feel I owe it to them to make a play down the stretch and that's what I've tried to do the last two games," said Jones, always one to defer to his teammates after a win.

Jones is a competitor.  He just finds ways to help his team win.  He's a young man well aware that not all the teams playing now will end up in a steamy Augusta, South Carolina come July for the Nike Peach Jam.  If you get the opportunity to see Jones in person, look at the determination on his face as he drives a crowded lane and watch how he finds the best opportunity presented him, taking advantage of any little weakness by his defenders.

"Definitely, definitely.  Peach Jam is the ultimate goal, so every win you can get whether it's by one point or fifty points, each one is key," said Jones when I asked him of his drive and the importance he seemingly placed on every game.

"Competitive game, overtime, it was a great game," I said to Jones.

Jones agreed. "It was. It was a great game. Going back and forth all game long, there is nothing better than good competition, so it was fun."

And it is becoming fun to watch Tyus Jones and how he finds ways to help his Howard Pulley team win. [/private]