Tag Archives: Justise Winslow

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Duke Freshman Can Bring It!

SONY DSCThere are plenty of reasons for excitement when talking Duke Basketball in that the program constantly maintains excellence.  It’s nothing new for Duke to have a banner class of freshman coming in where they will be molded by Mike Krzyzewski into a unit upon his return for duties with USA Basketball.

Having covered the AAU trail for many years and the young men coming in ad nauseam, the one thing that stands out to me is the overall maturity of this bunch.  Many times, it’s hard for the fan base to realize that these guys are still teenagers and until they’re on campus it’s hard to get a really good feel for how they might react to the new and faster game speed and all the other intangibles with concern to adjustment.

Duke will get an immediate infusion of talent from their incoming class and we take a look at what some of these adept newcomers bring to the table which are all the opinions of one man who saw them play multiple times.

Semi others PEach 12 012Tyus Jones - When I started covering Tyus Jones heavily during his rising junior season, the one thing I remembered from seeing him at a younger age was that he knew how to win.  Jones was not especially flashy, so there was no early grab in my mind’s eye when he was a rising sophomore.  As I continued to watch him I saw a cool customer and a player that would stuff the stat sheet in a steady manner.  It was like, did this guy just do all that while I was watching when looking down the box score.  That led me to realize that this young man was a true point guard and one who made everybody around him better.  In short, he’s a winner.  Jones has a knack for controlling the game and he helped his Howard Pulley AAU team over achieve in that they had little around him in comparison to other teams on the Nike circuit.  Jones is not going to jump out of the gym or go down the lane for a flamboyant dunk.  But what he will do is find the open man and help them to have the flashy play.  At Duke, Tyus Jones will have a lot of weapons around him and that should make his acumen for dishing assists even more impressive.  Another thing you will see when watching Jones is that he remains emotionally stable at all times. He moves on to the next play and that puts him in position to always help his team.  Jones draws the defense in at times but he is also adept at slithering through the lane for an easy lay in when others are looking for the kick out and he has the ability to knock down the jump shot.  Jones will need to work on his on ball defense at the college level, but Duke got the best pure point guard in the class and a kid you will fall in love with for his commitment to his teammates and winning.

Peach 12 more pics 014Justise Winslow - Known by the nickname of “Chief Justise,” Justise Winslow brings a very solid skill set to the court.  What you will first notice about young Winslow is his toughness and his ability to guard multiple positions.  Winslow has the ability to pull his defender out or take them to the rack and he can easily post up smaller defenders when mismatches come his way.  Winslow has a good handle and you can bet that the Duke coaching staff will use him as a defensive stopper early on.  Like Jones, Winslow stays level when playing the game, but he has a fiery can-do side and he’s physically mature for his age.  Winslow can shoot the jumper with good range or power in the lane on offense and he likes to mix it up.  His value to this coming years team will likely be on the defensive end where his footwork is ahead of the curve.  On the offensive end, he can draw some mismatches and like all the Duke freshman, he can run the floor.  Winslow is one of the more versatile players I have seen coming into Duke and you will love his confidence which is a vital part of his game.

Jones, Okafor DukeJahlil Okafor -  Duke got their man of choice in the middle in Chicago native Jahlil Okafor.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski is not one to guarantee a starting role or playing time to any prospect, but he’s already said that the offense would look to run through and around the best post player during last years recruiting class.  Okafor has good hands and like the aforementioned two incoming freshman keeps his cool on the court rarely getting too high or too low.  He was a beast on the AAU courts last summer and he has a long running relationship with Tyus Jones which will provide immediate chemistry.  Okafor knows how to use his frame and get a player on his hip and he has good court vision.  The Duke staff has obviously been working with Okafor on nutrition and in the weight room and the budding star has reshaped his body or frame.  It’s a little harder for me to project Okafor in that I have yet to see him play with a trimmed down frame, but common sense says he is likely to be even quicker on his feet which is vital as the college game is much faster than AAU ball.  Okafor is the most likely of the freshman to be one and done, so Duke fans should enjoy him while they can.  Having a true post player to play alongside Blue Devil veterens like Marshall Plumlee will help to give the team the ability to get out and press or trap more in that they have a man to slow down the break aways in the post.  And Okfor will certainly help to develop Sean Obi, the big man transfer from Rice who will be eligible the following season.

AllenGrayson Allen - During the annual Nike Peach Jam, Allen sent word to Duke that he was playing in an event just down the road called the Peach State Classic.  Allen grew up a Duke fan and was playing for an AAU team that was not on the national radar.   It didn’t take long for Mike Krzyzewski to take a look after word came back from assistant coaches that he can play.  At the time, Allen was ranked in the top 100 at best but as more evaluators saw him and Duke offered he entered the top 25’s of many.  Allen is one of those “Did he really just do that?,” kind of guys.  He can throw down some impressive dunks which belies his look test at first glance and smile while doing it.  Allen can also drain the ball from deep and has the ability to become a fan favorite with his dunks.  Many may remember Olek Czyz exciting crowds at the N.C. Pro AM years back, with his dunks but Allen does similar things with an all around game in tow as well.  Allen enjoys playing the game and that is important and he takes a joke well.  He was quick to give me a smile when I joked with him about his size 17 at the time flappers or show size.  Maybe that’s why he has such surprising up’s.

Collectively, this is one of the more impressive classes the staff has been fortunate enough to land.  There is balance in that there is a true post player, a true point guard, a versatile wing and an explosive wing.  But in the end it will come down to how they integrate with the Blue Devils veterans players.  This seasons Blue Devils will be a mix of very young players and some guys who have seen the ACC wars. We’re not that far off from seeing these kids first hand and what they look like after the capable coaching staff has worked with them.  The public will have a chance to see this years version of the Duke Men’s Basketball team on October 25th for Countdown to Craziness.  Tickets are currently available through the Duke ticket office.

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I like the Blue Devils’ chances with the Big 3

Every Duke Basketball fan in America knows that some of the nation’s finest prospects will visit campus this weekend. The nation’s top point guard Tyus Jones, the nation’s top center Jahlil Okafor, and a well-rounded wing in Justise Winslow will make their official visits, including taking in Saturday’s exhibition game with Bowie State.

All three recruits have visited Duke before, but this is it:  it is the last visit on their schedules, and that means a lot.  I mean, how often do we save the best for last in life?  Of course, having them on campus means the Blue Devils will have an additional chance to show off their facilities and their dedication to basketball.

There has been plenty of worry amongst the fan base.  Just last week people were trying to say that Jones wearing Kansas gear while on his visit there must be a sign. Oh no! Let the panic begin!

Semi others PEach 12 008But the reality is that he wore their gear out of respect, just as Harrison Barnes did in one of our more famous pictures, which has now been turned into a constant meme on the World Wide Web.

Just recently, some have said, Jones would not like playing second fiddle to current point guard Quinn Cook, but didn’t Jay Williams and Chris Duhon fare quite well together?  And have you seen how many wins an undermanned Howard Pulley AAU team pulled off under his leadership?

You can find a rumor or unwanted speculation on any message board, but having been through many of these recruiting decisions before, the fan in me is pretty relaxed.  Why?  First off, as I said, the last visit means more than some think. In my opinion it makes the prospects more the Blue Devils’ to lose.

Peach 12 more pics 011Second, as good as Kansas is and as much respect as I have for their program and what Bill Self has done, the ACC compared to the Big Twelve these days, well, there is no comparison.

Would you rather play UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville and go down Tobacco Road, or would you want your primary rival to be Kansas State or whichever team happens to pop up next year to have a good season in a conference where Oklahome and Texas could bolt for the Pacific coast at any time?

My contention here is that the ACC is prime time in every way, and you will play on what will be an amazing stage. The education and campus are top notch in Durham, as is the location. You’re right in the midst of the Triangle area, which is one of the top places to live in America, and you have the beach and mountains on either side. Semi others PEach 12 012

Then there is the court time Duke offers. Tyus Jones will sit for nobody, and he’s a consummate winner on the court. Jahlil Okafor has a wide open spot to walk right into and he’s sure to talk with fellow Chicago native Jabari Parker while on campus, and Jabari will surely mention the freedom the Duke system is allowing him.

As for Justise Winslow, a solid baller in every aspect of the game, Duke offers elite basketball and a top-notch education.

In my opinion, it is down to Kansas and Duke for Jones and Okafor, and Arizona and Duke for Winslow.  I for one like the odds of Duke getting the stellar class they are seeking.

If you had a child presented with the opportunities Duke offers, to play for the Olympic coach and a living legend, what would you do?  When the Cameron Crazies cheer their names and the team plays together as an excited crowd urges them on tomorrow, odds are good that I will not be the only one realizing the opportunity at hand.

Duke Basketball Recruiting Update

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BDN Photo – Reid Travis sits with Semi Ojeleye and Marshall Plumlee at a Duke football game during his visit.

The Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball staff has been steady on the recruiting trail of late but they’ve now returned home, at least for the moment. Such is the busy nature of trying to nail down this coming years class, not to mention gaining an early edge on underclassmen.

There is still [private] no word on Kevon Looney and where he leans, but it’s safe to say Duke is right there. The parents seemed sold on the opportunity in Durham but we all know it is eventually up to the kid himself. Looney will make his decision public on October 31st. If you are looking for a leak of where he is leaning, let it be know that his family has for now anyhow, shut down the media.

There has been a lot of paranoia involving Jahlil Okafor and his camp has more or less shut it down for media as well. No date has been officially set as of yet and I do not expect that to change for the next several days. Coach Kyzyzewski and Jeff Capel made a trip to see Okafor recently and by all accounts it was a fruitful visit. Duke is very much in the think of the race here and anybody who tells you differently just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. No word of late on the package deal and one way to shut down talk of that is to distance yourself from media.

Meanwhile, Tyus Jones is winding down the process and like others, his camp has grown quiet as well. Much of this is due to the family just wanting to sit back and take it all in and I have a feeling you will not hear a whole lot from his way anytime soon as well other than a diary he, along with Okafor, are committed to doing.

Duke has also visited Justise Winslow over the break and all indications are that they are right there. Winslow has yet to make a public date for a decision and the Duke staff continues to work on him for a visit in October.  BTW, Arizona is trying to tell him he can co exist with other prospects.

There are a lot of visits being tentatively set but not much is leaking in that it is very liquid in nature but Duke is obviously trying to get guys ready to visit during Countdown to Craziness. I will give you dates if they are released and we should know more as CTC comes around.

The word on Reid Travis is that he enjoyed his visit but his camp is really making sure of their pending decision per sources. Stanford is very much in this race and I’m sure Coach Dawkins is telling him he is their Tyus Jones. This is going to come down to what the kid wants in the way of basketball and education. If he wants to be the man, he will pick Stanford where that type of situation is available. I know what some are thinking, people could point to Dawkins having to win but the Stanford push always education first. Still, Duke offers a good opportunity for education as well and I like the Blue Devils chances here and they’ve told him how he would be used and such.

Duke is also still in the running for Myles Turner who is red-hot right now. His family seems to be trying to ground him a bit per rumors and Duke did pay him a recent visit and they seemingly feel they are a player for his services. If all goes according to plan, we’ll hear from Turner soon.

The Blue Devils stopped in on Charles Matthews and Luke Kennard as well. Every team in the nation seems to be on Kennard but that is not stopping Coach K and company who feel they’ve made good early in roads. Coach K loves his game at the Nike Peach Jam and it appears he will remain at the very top of the Blue Devils wish list. Matthews has not been real serious yet nut that will change. Malik Newman is also getting attention and a visit and K seems to really like his exploits since playing for Team USA and I think they’ll be in the thick of this race.

Another underclassmen Duke visited recently was Diamond Stone. Coach James, Coach K and Capel made the journey to see him around the same time as Turner. It was very much a getting to know you session and by all accounts there is major interest from both sides, meaning all went well.

There is excitement in the air with the season about to start and you can feel it from anyone related to Duke be it the staff or the players. I saw several of the players during the football game last week and all were in good spirits, especially Quinn Cook. We’ll be adding to our update on the players which is in the archives soon and we’ll be concentrating on hoops a lot more in the coming week.

If any member is reading this and is not on the message board, send me an e-mail at watzonebdp@gmail.com and once I check the list, I will okay you for said board. A lot of the quick hit information goes to the board before our updates. [/private]

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]

Key Duke Targets, Jones, Winslow Set to Play on ESPNU

Semi others PEach 12 016Duke fans will get the opportunity to see some big time Duke Basketball prospects on TV this week. ESPNU will carry the Minnesota based Howard Pulley Panthers versus Massachusetts-based BABC at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando in a game slated to start at 7:00 on Wednesday.

Howard Pulley features top Blue Devils target Tyus Jones, a PG who is quite simply the best at his position. But recent stellar play from Reid Travis now has him on the radar in what has the makings for an outstanding class.

On Thursday evening in a game that will also start 7:00, the Houston Hoops AAU team which features another big timer in Justise Winslow will take on Each One Teach One.

The Each One Teach One team will have the home edge being from Florida and Grayson Allen plays for this organization, who is the only commit in the 2014 class to date.

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow Rick Crank for BDN

Each One Teach One also produced recent Dukie Austin Rivers and Houston Hoops produced current Blue Devil starter Rasheed Sulaimon.

Fans can also scout future rivals in North Carolina verbal commitment PG Joel Barry and the smooth wing forward Justise Jackson.

It is worth noting that Allen has played sparingly at times since joining his AAU team this season but he has been showing off his skills of late, including some nice one hand throw down dunks.

In Reid and Jones, you will see as good a two-man show on the AAU circuit and players who benefit from said chemistry.

Jones has long been one of the Blue Devils top targets alongside Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. And there are plenty of other kids right there as well including Kevon Looney.

Read more about Duke Basketball recruiting by becoming a BDN Premium member for there are sure to be some major moves in the coming months and we look forward to bring members word from our top prospects in Disney land.

Checking in with Duke prospect Justise Winslow

 

Justise Winslow has a monster day.  Rick Crank for BDN
Justise Winslow has a monster day. Rick Crank for BDN

No player in the country has been playing better basketball than Justise Winslow of late and the hot prospect definitely benefitted from his recent play with Team USA.  During the Nike Peach Jam, Winslow showed off his skills set and now sports  as complete a game as any prospect on the Nike EYBL circuit.  In short, Winslow has very few weaknesses.

The Texan can take you off the dribble, post up smaller and larger players, crash the boards, step back for a smooth mid range jump shot or nail the three on offense alone. And did I mention he brings the ball up court like a point guard and can hit the open man with his passes.  And Winslow can defend as well, having the ability to guard up to four positions if needed.

It doesn’t take long to appreciate Winslows on the court exploits, but he’s just as impressive off the court where he fires back answers that are clear and concise to reporters, many of whom seem in awe at how articulate his retorts can be.  Winslow after all, goes to one of the top schools in Houston and as you will see in the following interview, he is a competitor in the class room just as he is on the hardwood.

I’ve seen Winslow play in well over twenty games on the AAU circuit and what you look for over the years is for a player improve and Winslow is flat-out playing his best basketball ever and in my eyes is a top ten player in his class.  Which ever team gains his services at the collegiate level will get a solid citizen and as good a wing as one could want.

Check out the latest on Justise Winslow with our interview where we discuss the schools on his list, his timeline, Team USA Basketball and more.

 

I know Arizona, Duke and other schools have been on you hard, but what it your current list of schools? [private]

Well, right now I’m still at ten schools and there are no leaders or anything like that. North Carolina, Duke Florida, Texas A & M, Baylor, Houston, Arizona and Stanford. And there are some new schools trying to talk to me like UCLA, Indiana and Michigan.

Yeah, I don’t know when I will sign for sure but want to do so by November. I just want to make sure I am signed by then.

Coming back from playing with Team USA overseas has to be tough on the body.  You didn’t have long to prep for the Peach Jam.

Yeah, it was tough and that’s why I sat out the first game of the Peach Jam. I learned a lot by the experience and I’m just looking to take all the knowledge gained and just look forward to try to display it out here and be the best I can be. It was tough adjusting to the time zone again but that’s no excuse. I’ve got to know my body and do what’s best for it. So, yes, it was tough and I’m adjusting.

Can you talk of  your experience?

It’s just a big difference playing with those guys because most of them have been to college other than the three of us, so the speed of the game and they’re just stronger and bigger I got a lot out of the practices and the coaches helped me understand the game and how to defend ball screens off the ball. It was a great time.

At this point in the process are you starting to feel the pressure knowing a decision is looming? You have all these coaches looking at you and probably texting you before you get off the court. Are you feeling the pressure.

I was feeling the pressure at first but my family told ,e to just forget about it and play basketball. One day it will come to me where I want to go to school and ,y family told me not to force it but just go out and be a kid and have fun.

Who will play important roles in your final decision. Your parents? I know you’re close to your brother as well …

Yeah. Just my immediate family. My coaches will play a little part, but mainly my family.

I know you’ve been asked of a package deal with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor …

I don’t know how big of a factor, but it is a factor and being able to go to school with those guys and make that program elite. I want to go to school with them but all three of us have to do what is best for our families. If it happens that all three of us go to school together, that would be the best. So, I’m really excited and if it does hold up, I will be very happy.

And which teams were all three of you considering from your list?

I think Baylor, Duke, Kansas. I think that’s it.

What is it like playing in front of all the major college coaches?

Umm. You know it’s kind of exciting at first but you just have to be yourself. You can’t go out there and just try to please those coaches but be yourself.

What are your plans moving forward?

I may take time off and the last event will be Orlando for me.

Will you take some time off in the near future?

Yes, definitely a time. I wish I had more time to spend with my family and relax at home but my team needed me, so I thought taking off the first game in North August was the best thing I could do for my body. In August or September I will keep working on my game and will take some time then for my family.

I know your family is big on education.  Have you thought about what you might take in school?

I like math and physics so numbers are my thing. So, maybe something in business or engineering. My family is really big on academics and I go to one of the top schools in Houston. So, I pride myself on that … being a competitor on the court and in the class room I think I do a lot of things good and some things great, but I think my versatility and all around game is what upgrades me from other guys.  [/private]