Tag Archives: Duke basketball team and recruiting update

Duke Basketball Team And Recruiting Update

While football season is set to kick off this weekend, echo’s can be heard from dribbling of basketballs in Cameron and the practice facility.  In about another week, pre seasons hoops magazines will hit the newsstands and there will always be talk around one of the most storied programs in America.  With that said, here is our latest Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update for our members and there is plenty to read about.  First, we have Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel sharing his thoughts on every player including the freshman.  I then give my analysis and add some nuggets.  This update also addresses recruiting and we even take a look into what to expect this coming season with concern to style of play.  So, here we go with a 3700 plus word update on the latest on the Duke Hoops front -

This is the first year due to NCAA rule changes that Duke has been able to work out more with their team over the summer. That means they had two one hour practice just about each week. “They’ve been some of the toughest practices I’ve been a part of since I’ve been back at Duke,” said Capel. These one hour practices were very intense and fast paced were at a high level. There has been intensity and greater fighting for positions.

The pace that the players have been exposed to this off season has been different than anything any of them had done at Duke in the past per Capel and word is that some tongues have been dragging after some tough conditioning.

Duke is now looking for separation. The staff is trying to figure out who guys are right now and once an assessment is made, they will use that to talk to them and define roles for the coming season.  “We tell them here is what you need to do to get to where we want you to be by the time we kick off the season,” said Capel.

The Blue Devils staff sits down each season to adjust their strategy for the coming season and it’s supposedly quite the skull session.  When roles are defined, it is important to success that each player buys into their assignment for if not there could be a fracture in team chemistry.  Coach Krzyzewski will map a strategy and or plan and [private] the work will begin and this has likely already happened but only just recently.  What Krzyzewski does is allow his teams strength to dictate the strategy.  A year ago, Duke was a big team and they played a controlled game taking break opportunities when they became available but not necessarily pushing the ball at all times.  This season, he has a team that can press more and move and he will likely master spacing his guys properly creating some serious match up problems for some opponents.  Without the depth at the big man spots a season ago, it will be rebounding by committee and there will be times when a power player may go off on Duke but a three pointer is greater than a dunk, so the Blue Devils can get past that issue.  Many of you may not remember the great Len Bias formerly of Maryland who died an untimely death after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.  When he played his last game in Cameron, he was dominant, dropping 33 points and having his way inside, but Krzyzewski allowed that to happen while shutting down everybody else on the Terps team and Duke coasted to a comfortable win.  I can see that happening this season in some manner, the point being, the teams strengths will almost certainly be better than their weaknesses.

Here is a long look at the players, followed by a recruiting update for members -

Amile Jefferson

“He went home this summer and we have allowed him to showcase his talent. It is important for us that his role can be significantly more this year and that is something I think he wants so he has worked hard to prepare for that. His ability to guard different positions and his ability to be unique on offense is intriguing for our team. He’s a basketball player. he can handle the ball, score around the rim, a good passer, he just has a good feel,” said Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel in a recent conversation.

Jefferson is like any Philly kid, he loves his home, so he returned there this summer but he balled with some good talent while there.  Duke likes his versatility and that likely means he could start, but we’ll see.  I personally think Duke will rotate the 5th position in the line up according to match ups this season.  Amile  brings that old school cerebral play

Marshall Plumlee

“The big thing with Marshall is to just get healthy. Last year, until the time that school started, he was playing very, very well and would have made our rotation. He was never healthy when he came back and had surgery after the season, so we have just wanted him to get healthy. He’s worked hard this off season and worked with Will Stephens, with strength and conditioning The key is to maintain the weight as he gets ready to start running and burning calories. Marshall is going to be important for us in that he’s our biggest guy this season and if he embraces his role with rebounding, screening and running, then he can contribute all season long,” per Capel

Plumlee just started running a week or so ago but he has not progressed where he can make sharp cuts yet, so there is a way to go here.  The hope is for the added weight to stick or at least half of it once he starts to run with the team.  A season ago, many felt Coach K saying he would have been in the rotation coach speak, but Plumlee seems to be set for a role provided his legs return and there is no set backs.  Dude drank a ton of muscles shakes per Will Stephenson orders and did a lot of under water work during rehab.

ad gbAndre Dawkins

“He has a special skill with the three ball and he can impact a game instantly. It’s been great to have him back and he’s worked hard to get into shape and develop skills. He’s been through a lot on and off the court and has the ability to share those things with our younger guys. He’s been a part of a national championship but he’s also lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The main thing is he arms us with a weapon with his ability to shoot the basketball. Whatever role he earns on this team is up to him. He can put up points in a short time,” said Capel

Dawkins has been through a lot off the court with the passing of his sister.  He worked in the off season with a trainer and decided he wanted to return to the team in the season ending exit meetings and a plan was formed.  Dawkins can have a quick effect on the game with his abilities and the key will be for him to bring that consistently and not be a kid just hanging out around the three point line as he got into the habit of when we last saw him.  A mature Dawkins is a good thing and he’s a player who will not shy away from that big shot if it presents itself.

Jabari Parker

With Jabari his skill set and talent are very unique, so we don’t know the exact spot or a position on the floor he’ll play other than he”ll be a really good player, so you are going to see him all over the floor doing a little bit of everything. It will literally be everything. He can bring the ball up the floor and initiate things and he’s one of those guys on the team we feel he can do those kind of things along with Rodney. We don’t want to limit his abilities or strengths, so he’ll be used in a lot of different ways.

Parker has done everything the staff has asked of him and has a focus which is important for a player of his hype stature and the mere fact he’s a freshman. Coach Krzyzewski used Luol Deng in a similar role, but Parker has much better post skills. I think what we are seeing is that the staff will allow Parker free reign from the word go and they’ll seek to not pigeon hole him into what we’ll call a traditional position. I can see Parker playing pretty much every position on the court on defense, but doubt he will be needed against the point other than on presses. The word is that Parker has showed well in practice and that alone is enough to excite the fan base as if they are not already stoked enough for the coming season.

2Quinn Cook

“Quinn had a great season last year. He was a third team All ACC pick and the MVP in Atlantis. One of the big mistakes that Quinn or anybody can make is thinking it’s going to happen this year because of last year. This year will be different and the way we will play will be very different. Quinn had a great summer and he came back in really good shape as a player. It’s his team or a chance to be his team but he has to still work to make that happen and come to play every day. Quinn should be a very intrical part of the team this season,” Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel.

Quinn spent a lot of time at home in the D.C. region working out with some of the fine talent in that area and he comes back in tip top shape and condition per sources. Cook has a chance to take another leap this season and to do that he needs to learn to control the game and his team. If Cook can blend early on with his teammates, the upside is enormous. Cook has been playing with a lot of confidence this off season and if the maintains his mental focus first and foremost, he will be in the discussion as one of the best point guards in the country by seasons end. Cook knows there is a savvy senior in Tyler Thornton and a sleek sophomore in Rasheed Sulaimon capable of of running the point waiting in the wings, so I expect we’ll get his best effort this season. His ball pressure and his ability to defend has stood out the most about Cook in our eyes.

8Tyler Thornton

Tyler is unquestionably a leader on this team. He is probably the most respected guy on his team and he’s found a way to contribute each year here since he was a freshman. Tyler brings intangibles, Tyler effects winning and he does a lot of things that do not show up in the stat sheet but for people who truly understand basketball they can appreciate what he brings to the team. He’s a guy who you want all your team to look like in that he is totally immersed in winning..

Thornton has always found a way to get on the court in that he is tough as nails mentally and physically.  Thornton is a gentlemen in every sense since I met him as a junior on the recruiting trail, but he’ll talk a little smack out there if it can get under the other teams skin and that kind of thing is needed.  I think he gets a captain spot on this seasons team in that he is respected by all.

Alex Murphy

“I think Alex has had a great off season. It’s probably the first time he has been completely 100% invested in himself and I think he would tell you that. I think this summer he chose to remain here for both summer sessions when in the past he would go home or play with the Finnish National Team. He had a chance to do both of those things again this year but he chose to stay and I think that has helped his level of confidence. Every player and coach knows how much talent Alex has, but the thing for him is to have the confidence to play that way, through mistakes and to have the confidence to play and react without thinking so much. The way we will play this year will help him and that will blend itself for him not thinking as much and just reacting,” said Capel.

Just play, don’t think.  Has to believe in himself.  This is what I hear on Alex and it seems he’s bought into the suggestions.  Did you know that he has been in the starting line up for each of the last two exhibition openers?  Murphy has made off season strides but we’ll only now how much so when we see him play again.

horse2Matt Jones

“Matt is a really good player who has done a good job since he’s been here. One of the things with Matt is he has been coached really hard in high school and his coach did a great job this past season teaching him defense. With the AAU program he played for he was coached really hard, so he’s been held accountable and a lot has been demanded of him. He’s been able to adjust very quickly to the speed of the game. Speed and defense are the two biggest things high school guys must adjust to and most do not play defense in high school. he works really hard and he’s going to fight to be an important guy on his team,” – per Capel.

Great family, solid kid.  Doesn’t cut up a lot or act out.  Kind of what any parent or coach would want, right?  Remember when I said he could be the odd man out this coming season due to depth.  Well, I take that back for by all accounts he is playing better than a freshman should, meaning he has worked hard knowing that’s what it will take to crack the line up with this seasons wing loaded roster.  The word is that he has thrived in the weight room and gotten stronger and he’s becoming the X-Factor freshman in my eyes.

Semi Ojeleye

I think all the freshman will have to adjust to the speed of the game but Semi is probably the strongest kid who has walked through the doors here as a freshman. He’s the kind of guy who if he tested at the NFL combine he would do well and probably be a first round pick just based on his body and athleticism. He prepares and carries himself well and he is confident, add to that he can really shoot the basketball. He fits the mold of versatility that will be prevalent on this team. He can be asked to guard many guys and he can use his size and strength.

When you first see Ojeleye, you quickly notice his chiseled body which is akin to a juniors physique.  The key for Ojeleye is to adjust to the speed of the game.  He didn’t have bad coaching in high school or the AAU circuit, but it could have been better, so there will be the usual freshman learning curve.  Still, he is capable of guarding multiple type players and that will be of immediate value if grasps system basics.

Duke vs Georgia State 12 005Rasheed Sulaimon

“A very talented young guy and a great kid. This will be a really big year for him. When you have a freshman year like he did, you come back but do you make the jump or do you just rest and think going to happen. He was an important part of the Team USA squad that won the Gold Medal, so he’s had a good summer. He jumped right in when he came back with what we were doing . A talented kid who can play off the bounce and he’s a guy wee want to move around a lot this year and he progresses as a player.” Jeff Capel

As a sports reporter when I talk with Sulaimon, he’s the kind of kid I would want as a parent.  Humble, yet confident in his abilities, Sulaimon can be a go to guy on this seasons team with his ability to break down his opponent off the dribble.  Sulaimon has realized it takes hard work to succeed and with a year behind him, the lessons learned from a season ago will pay dividends.

Rodney Hood

“Well, he’s really talented and he’s gotten a lot better since he’s been here because he’s worked and he’s been touched by this culture. He’s gotten stronger, more athletic, he’s shooting and handling the ball better. At Mississippi State he was sort of a catch and shoot guy, so we were a little surprised as we went through practice at how good he is off the bounce. He’s a guy who can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions, so he will be asked to do that in our system. When you come to Duke the expectations are different than most other places, so you have to learn to deal with expectations. But Hood has had three really good seniors to watch a season ago, so he’s learned how to conduct his business from how they handled things,” states Capel.

Rodney is a completely different player than he was at Mississippi State where he did not get the best coaching.  Duke has tried to instill confidence in Hood, who will finally be seen by fans.  What I worry about to a degree is that he has been saddled with a lot of expectations and hype, more-so than any other player on the roster.  However, this will be a hungry player and a mature one and a sure starter.  In fact, I still say Hood, Sulaimon and Parker will be the main three options on offense.  Hood has a nice mid range game, so do not expect a dominating rebounder despite his height in that he is more wing than power.

Josh Hairston

“Josh is a player who has started games for us, so he’s had an important role. As a senior, he’s been through early exits in the tournaments, part of big wins and has simply been through a lot. He can play a lot but we don’t know for sure. He will have a role on this team,” said Capel.

When Hairston and Thornton were recruited to play for Duke, it was during a time when the Blue Devils were experiencing a bit of a drought in recruiting.  They were dubbed “program kids,” which means they embody what one would want out of a young man with concern to character.  Hairston will be in a position to offer leadership this coming season but how he accepts his role will be the key.

Recruiting

We all know that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will visit the Duke Campus together during the last weekend of October.  I still have mad confidence that Tyus Jones will be a Blue Devil and Okafor as well, just not at the level of Jones.   Before you reads into that too much and start a worry-fest, I feel good about both players and predict fans will be happy when the dust clears.  There is a reason the last visit is scheduled for Durham, that being I think both kids know Duke is their leader whether they say so in public or not.  At this point it would be a major upset of Jones went elsewhere and I do not buy into the worry about Kentucky one bit, even though traditional wisdom may be to never count them out.

Kavon Looney will visit the weekend when Duke is at Memphis in football and the Blue Devils seem to feel quite good about their chances here but this one still has a few things which need to fall into place.  Duke has been the highest riser of any team on his list and the staff will have Looney all to themselves and will be able to spend some serious time with his family.  The stars could be aligning themselves nicely here, so stay tuned.

The two prospects Duke is working hardest on for a visit are Myles Turner and Diamond Stone, two bigs.  Duke faces a tough battle for the service of Turner but the two like each other a lot and that could lead to a possible visit during Countdown to Craziness.  In fact, both Stone and Turner could make the event if all goes well but recruiting is liquid as are the prospects schedules, so this one needs to play out more.  Duke Assistant Nate James has been the lead on these two guys.

It’s that time of year when fans hang on every little thing said, be it rumors or just speculation with recruiting and no player has had more worry connected to him more than Justise Winslow who plays his hand carefully at the game we all love to follow.  Winslow has been recently linked to a late UCLA run and even a package deal at Arizona.  The Wildcats worry me, UCLA does not.  The Bruins are late to this party while Zona has been on Winslow longer than Duke.  Still, Duke has a legitimate shot here and are very much in the race until his announcement.  Word is Winslow is feeling a little pressure about making a decision and will have a had time telling a coach no, but that too is not unusual.  No additional visits are set in stone at this time with Winslow and while I felt he was ready to pop at one time, it seems his decision could come later than anyone might like.  Still, there is reason to believe he is close and has an idea where he wants to go.  Expect another cut down on his list and his family and or Justise seems to really be concerned about making the right choice here, thus the stretch.  It’s Duke or Arizona if my sources are right and they usually are.

Want a possible new name on the radar?  Henry Ellison, a 2015 corn fed prospect got a call from a Duke Assistant recently and was told they would keep an eye on him.  Some say he could really grow into a force and he can stretch the court with his ability to hit the three. [/private]

Matt Jones and Julius Randle of the Texas Titans will be visited by the Duke Coaching staff this weekend and BDN will be there to bring you up to the minute coverage for premium members.  BDN Photo

BDN Premium – Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Matt Jones and Julius Randle of the Texas Titans will be visited by the Duke Coaching staff this weekend and BDN will be there to bring you up to the minute coverage for premium members. BDN Photo

The Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball staff will be more than a little busy in the coming weeks as the open recruiting period gets into full swing. Two prospects in Amile Jefferson and Tony Parker have yet to make their decision but the focus will soon shift to the Class of 2013 and 2014. BDN Premium takes a look at the new names and some you are familiar with in our latest team and recruiting update. And as always, our AAU coverage will be as good as it gets where recruiting analyst Andrew Slater will be updating you as the action happens this weekend from the Nike EYBL in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s a great time to join BDN Premium where you are sure to be happy with what we feel is the best staff on the circuit.

Let’s start with the class of 2012 and Amile Jefferson. The hybrid forward is expected to [private] make his decision at the earliest late this week and the latest next week. Jefferson has likely cooled on N.C. State with the return of C.J. Leslie but many will tell you they are still in the lead. Okay, NCSU types will tell you that. Had he been such a sure thing to the Pack he would have popped by now. The real competition for his services are Kentucky and Villanova. Both are making hard late runs but the recent transfer of Michael Gbinije certainly shows that their is playing time in Durham and I feel this is the Blue Devils biggest attraction.

Tony Parker on the other hand switched his announcement date for like the fifteenth time and is now slated to make his pick known at his Miller Grove High School next Monday. The buzz around the Jordan Brand All Star game was that he was UCLA bound and they are attractive to him. But Parker is a bit of a momma’s boy and I think it will be hard for him to stray too far. He seemingly is still bucking going to Duke despite his parents being in their corner and that opens things up for Georgia. After all that has happened, a Georgia choice would be almost a great end to what has bordered on comedy. Truthfully though, I don’t think Tony knows where he is going as I type, so there is still a crack in the door.

The coaches have been active at open gyms where Coach K went to see Julius Randle yesterday. The Blue Devils have the full court press on the behemoth in the paint and he is exactly what the doctor would order especially if they lose Parker which most feel will happen. Randle of course, is teammates with Duke bound Matt Jones for the Texas Titans AAU team and assistant coach Jeff Capel stays in regular contact.

This weekend kicks off our infamous AAU coverage where our resident recruiting analyst Andrew Slater will be in Minnesota for the Nike EYBL Session I. He will see the aforementioned Julius Randle and Matt Jones while there and we hope to hear from Randle. We hesitate to put too much of where our guys will be out for our comp tries to hire a stringer and the way I see it, we’re not going to help them do their jobs or allow them to ride our coattails at events. The AAU events provide some of the most unprofessional media types you will run up on and the rumors, gossip and games played are tiresome. BDN only wants to concentrate on what we do while avoiding drama being dropped at our door step without provocation. We will continue to adhere to high standards and bring you accurate coverage.

The Nike circuit is loaded with prospect this season and Andrew will also take a look at Jabari Parker (2013) and Jahlil Okafor of Mac Irwin Fire. Parker is the top rated player in his class with Randle close behind. Jabari had long been a Duke target and Coach K has a great relationship with the Chicago native. Okafor is in the class of 2014, a bruising post player who has showed early interest in Duke and the Blue Devils got on him early. Watching the Fire will be a lot of fun this spring and summer.

Boo Williams is back on the radar, the system that produced Andre Dawkins. Allerik Freeman who made a name for himself as a Duke prospect of late and Anthony Barber are firmly on the radar. Barber is probably the prospect which best fits the Blue Devils needs while Freeman is a bit of a swing man without a set position at the college level at this time. Coach K will be taking a close look at these and other players on Saturday and possibly Sunday.

During last seasons Peach Jam, Blue Devil Nation took notice of Howard Pulley and PG Tyus Jones where we were the first Duke site to interview the fabulous 2014 prospect. He caught my eye the season before and I could see where he would gain interest thus the interview. Since that time, he is the nations PG of choice. While not a flashy player, he is a stat stuffer, a winner and far ahead of his years with concern to maturity,

Then there are a bunch of kids we like to say are being evaluated. This means Duke wants to take a good hard look at them and determine which will make the cut or deserve further evaluation. Team Takeover features Ismail Wainwright and Beejay Anya. It will be interesting to see how their organization reacts after Michael Gbinije transferred. Anya has been on the radar and teams will look to see how his body is shaping up as he gets older. Wainwright is under evaluation.

CIA Bounce out of Canada has been producing some big time talent and Duke will take a look at Tyler Ennis and Andrew Wiggins. You have seen several interviews here past with Wiggins and he will be a tough get with everybody on him.

MoKan Elite will feature Semu Ojeleye, another player Duke will consider and then there is CP3 and Theo Pinson, another player you have heard from in 2014. Pinson is not expected to get serious for another year yet.

Andre had the foresight to talk with Wayne Selden of BABC and he is now on the Blue Devils radar as well and will get a good long look from the staff. A new name on the radar is E1T1 prospect Joel Berry.

Austin Nichols was a player we hoped to see with Nike but will not be in EYBL this spring and summer. He is playing with M33M team out of Memphis that will be playing in a local event this weekend and then will be at Real Deal on the Hill in Arkansas next weekend. Coach K will stop into see him on Friday in Memphis.

The Blue Devils are all in on Rodney Hood, a player we made you aware of three seasons ago who grew up a Duke fan. The staff is working with the Hood family for an official visit and they have made sure hood knows of their interest through contact. Hood would add versatility and a bit of seasoning after a good freshman year at Mississippi State but he will have to sit out a year,

The bottom line is that Duke will drop and add player/prospects over the next two weeks so things are very liquid. I will be at Boo Williams in Hampton next week with the Nike kids and Real Deal is going on as well, another event the coaches will cover. This will be the first year coaches are allowed in Hampton and I am expecting a bit of a mess in an already crowded venue. It is clear that the priority is to go hard after Jabari Parker and Julius Randle while keeping Matt Jones in their view. With the Olympics coming up, the Blue Devils will have the max limit of assistants out at all times. Note to premium members – if you are not registered for the premium message board, please do so, then e-mail me at watzonebdp@gmail.com so we can have you approved after checking your paypal payment. [/private]

BDN Premium – Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Rasheed Sulaimon played "Horse" while visiting Duke. Maybe that helped him win the three point shooting contest at the McDonald's All American game? BDN presents another loaded team and recruiting update article for premium members.

Well, it’s that time of year again when AAU ball cranks up and for BDN that means we’ll be hitting several big events. Austin Rivers decision to sign with an agent and enter the NBA Draft wasn’t that big of a surprise to us and we all wish him luck. Rivers decision is the first thing that will set the future into motion as the staff will be hot on the recruiting trail.  While many Duke fans hate to see Rivers lead, he can help the program at the next level and they will show that shot against UNC several times early on in his pro career.  He joins Kyrie Irving as players kids will really identify with.

I expect Mason Plumlee will (you must be a BDN Premium member to read the 2000 plus word update, so join today!) [private] enter his name into the draft to get feedback as to his draft status which must be done by April 3rd. Plumlee from all accounts is torn about his decision but the departure of Austin Rivers could help. Had Rivers returned the offense would have been run through him and the Blue Devils would have been his team. His high school coach David Gaines said that he was weighing his options and that one thing he would want is more touches or to be used in a more prominent role, It seems part of Plumlee wants to return and finish what he started and play with his brother Marshall for a year. Marshall could surely use his tutoring and Duke could surely use his presence in the paint. But an equal part of Mason wants to go pro and it may come down to where he is projected in a deep draft. It’s probably even odds right now but that could change.  If I were to guess, I think Mase will probably want to go through his senior season and be a more focal point for the team but I am not majorly confident with the info I have received to date and it is worth noting that I have not talked this  over with some of my usual sources.

Should Plumlee head to the league with Rivers, Duke will be in major need of a big or two. There are two options, one being Tony Parker and the other Alex Oriakhi, the Connecticut transfer. Should Plumlee go, it would be a match made in heaven with Oriakhi. As for Tony Parker, he announced that he would be making a decision on April 11th and I can tell you now that Duke is a definite player. Coach K locked in on his parents early on and there is a very solid relationship and trust between them. While Parker has seemingly bought into all of the anti Duke recruiting rhetoric and squirmed away at the mention of Duke, he may finally be seeing the light and the opportunity he has stepping right into playing time at Duke. Parker showed signs of getting a bit out of shape at the McDonald’s All American drills but who knows the circumstances or that he didn’t have something going on? Anyhow, he has trimmed his list to Duke, Kansas and UCLA. IMO, Los Angeles is too far from home unless all his pals go there and that means it is likely down to two, Kansas and Duke. I think the Blue Devils have proximity in their favor as well and may pull this one out. Their odds are much better than they were a month ago at this time and Parker knows he would plug right in. Parker’s decision may also effect the aforementioned Oriakhi.

Shabazz Muhammad won the dunk contest and he will choose a school on April 11th as well on an ESPN special. His decision likely has bearing on Trey Zeigler, a recent visitor and I expect nothing will happen with him until Bazz pulls the trigger due to available slots. Duke can now show Muhammad that he can be there next one and done freshman and that may be enough to pull him in. Zeigler offers maturity and the ability to guard certain types of players on defense. It will be interesting to see how all plays out, but I feel one will be on the roster at this time. And there is still the shadow of an NCAA investigation over Bazz and this could effect him going to what many felt the leader has been for months, Kentucky.

The Duke coaches will assault the AAU circuit full throttle before July for that is when Coach K will be heading up Team USA and he’ll take assistants Collins and Wojo with him. That means April is an important month and the staff will take in both Nike EYBL sessions and other events I will share at a later date. Jeff Capel, Nate James and Chris Spatola will fill in while the staff builds the team they hope wins gold.

Several Duke Assistants have been considered for other jobs but the info coming in is somewhat shaky so I will not share the rumors. The Illinois job supposed linked three Duke types, Johnny Dawkins who led Stanford to the NIT title game, Steve Wojciechowski and of course Chris Collins. It looks like the job has been filled and Collins was like the next one or two choices had the job remained open. Nothing official while I am typing this though … It is looking more and more like a mid major stepping stone job may be the ticket for some. Back to Dawkins, he would probably like to go somewhere it is easier to recruit but his Stanford team will compete for the PAC 10 the next two season should he stay put and I expect him to do so.

The coaches will be meeting with players to tell them what to work on for the coming season and what role they envision them taking on.  And you have heard a lot of transfer rumors by now and I fully expect some movement.  It’s hard for me to share too much on that front in that it is a sensitive and private issue for the program, but the most rumored kid to leave Michael Gbinije seems prepared to returned and told his AAU coach he knew Coach K knew what he was doing.  It has also come out that Seth Curry can or will graduate and that he entertained going overseas but no firm decision has been made.  It was odd that Austin Rivers seemed to slip and say he was gone in the locker room after the tournament loss, but there was a lot of emotion going on.

I can tell you that there will be a shake up and Duke will try to get back to playing better defense and I expect all players will be challenged and have to earn their time next season.  The coaches, like us. have to let all shake out and each player or prospect move will effect one another with concern to the players/prospects in play.

The Carolina Classic has concluded and we’ll add some late scouting reports and get the thoughts of others before weeks end.  I would say Theo Pinson is the only prospect firmly on the radar and while there are other good players, none of them are past the evaluation mode.  For those new to BDN Premium, the evaluation mode consists of players they are putting feelers out on.  Many kids, like prospect Tyrone Outlaw will get a look and he will visit in an unofficial manner, but it is common for local star prospects to drop by campus.  Jeff Capel is the lead guy for Outlaw but I’m not sure he would make the final cut.  However he does add toughness to the team he will play for and he can guard bigger players.  Outlaw will have to improve his perimeter game to become a real candidate.  Duke has showed some interest in Jaquel Richmond as well but something tells me they may not pursue him as hard as some other names.

Another name which has popped up is Christian Harrison of Greensboro Day.  Harrison grew up a Duke fan and of course says he would accept an offer on the spot.  He’s a nice late bloomer in the rankings but has very thin shoulder width which needs a lot of added muscle.  He can finish very well and is a smooth player but hangs outside a bit too much for my tastes.  His second game was his worst and his defense was awful at times in that game.  He wasn’t playing help D or using his length a lot.  His third game would have one drooling and he played much better after motivational speeches.  I would have to get more views on him to get a real feel.  We will have an interview up soon with him.

The Nike Jordan-Brand Classic is on my agenda where I will see Rasheed Sulaimon play and hopefully one or two more future Blue Devils.  The even on April 14th will allow us to know where Tony Parker and Shabazz Muhammad are going.  There are a slew of UNC and N.C. State guys playing in the event, a game of local North Carolina ballers and an International game.  continues to work Duke prospects as does his future teammate Matt Jones.

The Nike EYBL season starts in April as well and it gets underway with session I  in Minnesota on April 20-22 and then session II in Hampton, Virginia the following weekend.  The event is loaded with Duke prospects and among them are Chicago studs, Jabari Parker, the top rated player in the class of 2013 and Jahill Okafor, the paint eater and key Blue Devil target as well.  Both will suit up for the Mac Irwin Fire again and Parker has been the Blue Devils top target for a long time and as I have said for a year or so now, I feel Duke is in great shape with  him.  Then there is the Texas Titan duo of Matt Jones a shooting guard who has already pledged to Duke and his teammate, the bullish post man, Julius Randle.  If Duke misses on bigs this year, their need for Randle will be dire.  Duke is in good shape and will surely make his final cut and he is right there with Jabari Parker as the most important prospects they will work before Olympic duties.  But rest easy for Duke Assistant Jeff Capel is the lead recruiter for him and that bodes well.    Then there are the two PG prospects, Anthony Barber 2013 and Tyus Jones 2014.    Long time members know I rave when speaking of Jones and I will finally get more views of Barber.  Both are legitimate standouts but Jones to me is special and a winner.  But Jones has the nation after him and he will be a tough get.  Duke will also have their eyes open for other players and by the end of April we should have some new names popping up.  Other names to watch are big man Bee Jay Anya and Theo Pinson to name a few.

By all accounts, Ryan Kelly is healing nicely and he should have plenty of time to have his game together before the season starts.  Duke players had a lot of nagging injuries by seasons end but the Blue Devils do not broadcast them until later and maybe no even then.  Coach Krzyzewski has never been one to share too much in the past.  But it was certainly evident that the loss of Kelly effected the team concept and in hindsight, Kelly added a lot of value to the team.

The take on Amile Jefferson in interesting.  Talk to the NCSU types and they are majorly confident he comes.  Their spin is he is waiting to see what C.J Leslie does, well, I will tell you that he is going pro.  Jefferson has a great relationship with the Wolfpack staff but I feel his heart is with Duke.  I though his decision may be tied in with the McDonald’s game but it seems he will watch what happens with team rosters as well as others now.  Jefferson is a nice young man who is likely having trouble telling certain teams no.  Villanova continues to make the hometown push and they are still hovering about but it is down to the ACC schools and I still feel Duke is in the best shape to get his services.  But it’s recruiting, so who knows 100% sure what might happen.

So, we are all waiting to watch the McDonald’s All American game this evening and to see how things shake out for Duke Basketball.  You have heard me say the following on numerous occasions but it applies more than ever to current situations.  Let it play out.  Freaking out and over speculation is a waste of ones energy.  Watch what prospects do and not what they say.  Actions speak louder than words.

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Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon go at it in Cameron before Countdown to Craziness - BDN Photo

It’s time for another Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting update and with that said, onto the latest happenings around the program.  Many of you have asked what’s the deal with [private] Alex Murphy.  Well, Duke plans to redshirt him along with Marshall Plumlee but both could  play if there were significant injuries.  This will push Josh Hairston into a larger role and it definitely shortens the bench but the Blue Devils feel Michael Gbinije is starting to come along and they can afford to do this.  The Blue Devils do not want to wast a year on Plumlee and Murphy and this of course gives them a three man class with the aforementioned joining Rasheed Sulaimon.  The staff loves that Murphy and Plumlee are getting accustomed to the Duke system and both have made strides in practice.  The decision on Murphy had little to do with the concussion and more to do with how much burn the guys would actually get this year.

Everybody wants to know what’s up with Tony Parker and only he knows.  The feeling is that he will not choose a school in December as he said he would.  The feeling is it will go on for a while despite the parents wanting him in Durham.  There is no way of telling what Parker thought of the loss to Ohio State, a school high on his list but surely he can see that there is a major spot available at Duke.

The Blue Devils coaches will be out and about in the next few days and we’ll add more to this update when the visits are finalized.  You can bet that Julius Randle and Jabari Parker are high on the list as is Jahill Okafor.  I still feel the Blue Devils lead for the top player in the class in Parker and they are turning up the heat with Parker in limbo with Randle and other post players I will mention later.

The Blue Devil made the call to Matt Jones who recently signed and sort of prodded him along.  Jones has known Duke was his team of choice and it was time to pull the trigger.  The Blue Devils got a shooter like Dawkins, but Jones has a more rounded game.  Jones, like Sulaimon, will start to recruit for Duke as well and the Blue Devils think both players can and will play together.  Sulaimon is a much better on ball defender and has the potential to be one of the best in a while at Duke.  The Blue Devils love the energy he brings when on the court.

With the exception of Mason Plumlee and Austin Rivers, all spots are open and the hungriest players will earn burn against Colorado State.  Yes, Kelly, Dawkins, Curry and Thornton were all in the dog house on Tuesday and a message was sent to those guys to step it up.  All of them looked tentative and at times played on their heels against Ohio State.  The loss gives Coach K a great teaching opportunity and he will take advantage of it by fine tuning his team, so look for some serious effort in the next few games.

Despite the loss, the staff likes what this team has done and one bad loss will not take away from that.  Mind you, nobody is happy with the blowout but the season is long.  I expect Quinn Cook and Michael Gbinije to get more burn but neither really impressed in extended minutes during the loss in Columbus.  Duke also wants to find a way to get senior Miles Plumlee going and he has had a mildly disappointing season to date.  The Blue Devils will really need him when his brother Mason gets in foul trouble as the season goes on.  The word is Miles plays good in practice but spaces a bit when in a real game, seemingly not being ready for the ball or to react when it is needed.

Coach K will be honored by Sports Illustrated as the Sportsman of the Year, a great honor.  We’ll add an addendum to this update shortly on who the Blue Devils will visit. [/private]