North Augusta, SC - Keep the name Luke Kennard in mind for you will be hearing more of the 2015 SG from Franklin, Ohio in the coming days. Kennard is a major target for the Ohio State Buckeyes and he was recently offered by North Carolina and yes, it looks as if Duke will get involved as well. Coach Mike Kryzewski joined Tom Izzo, Roy Williams and many other coaches just moments ago for his game and Blue Devil Nation caught up to the rising star and obtained this one on one interview with Kennard last evening. So join BDN Premium and get to know a new prospect on the radar. [private]
More to come! Discuss this article as a member on the BDN Premium message board. [/private]
Ishmail “Ish” Wainright is a physically imposing wing from Raytown, Missouri, a city less than twenty minutes away from Kansas City. One of eight brothers and sisters and blessed with the imposing presence of hungry pit bull, he has built his reputation on toughness at both ends of the court.
Defensively, Wainright has tried to establish himself as a “shutdown defender,” a phrase more commonly associated with relatively diminutive cornerbacks in football. This past weekend, the 6’6″ wing with a 7’2″ wingspan, played in three games and held the exceptionally talented Andrew Wiggins, the MVP of the recent Nike Hoop Summit, to a far and away session-low eight points in twenty-six minutes. Ishmail followed that up by holding consensus top twenty-five 2014 player Paul White to two points in twenty-two minutes and ESPN’s sixth-ranked 2013 player, Troy Williams, to six points and four turnovers.
As a scorer, Ishmail Wainright is more of an efficient grinder than a smooth shooting wing with perfect form. He uses positioning, strength, and explosion to score over taller competitors near the basket.
After leading the Kansas City 76ers to the Fab 48 Title at the end of last summer, Wainright won the MVP of the tournament. One of the standout performances was when he led an upset by outplaying Jabari Parker in the playoffs, scoring twenty-three points and holding Parker to seventeen tough points.
Soon after the summer, he left Raytown, Missouri and headed to Rockville, Maryland to play at Montrose Christian for veteran coach Stu Vetter. Wainright went to nearby George Washington and Howard for their versions of Midnight Madness. This year, Ishmail, a brief Missouri verbal commit, was teamed up with senior wing Justin Anderson (Virginia), senior forward Michael Carrera, and Canadian point guard, Kevin Zabo. Ishmail helped the perennial power reach the semi-finals of National High School Invitational and finish with a 22-3 record. Next year, the confident Wainright will take over the leadership reins of the program.
After catching a late plane, Wainright, the cousin of former Missouri shooting guard Marcus Denmon, immediately paid dividends for his new AAU program, Team Takeover. The Takeover coaches will pair him with the slimmed down 6’9″ Beejay Anya and are looking for the talented wing to be even more aggressive on offense. Team Takeover finished the weekend on a high note, defeating archival Boo Williams, 51-50, on a last second tip-in of a free throw miss.
The next night, Ishmail Wainright, a friend of Duke recruit Julius Randle, received a phone call from Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who In depth interview ahead BDN Premium style which means you will love it. Join today for the best AAU coverage around. [private] watched Wainright and Team Takeover play throughout the weekend, offering a full scholarship to Duke University to the 2013 wing.
Right before catching a plane, Ish Wainright spoke with me about a plethora of topics, including Duke’s interest, transferring to Montrose Christian, being a shutdown defender, writing, his short verbal commitment to Missouri, refining his physique, winning the MVP, and now feeling comfortable with his Team Takeover squad.
Let’s start with the transfer to Montrose Christian. How did you come to the decision to head out there? How has the transition gone?
Really, me and my dad sat down and we talked about it and he thought that it was time for me to move on. He thought that it was time for me to become a better player and a better young man. He sent me off.
How has it worked out?
It’s worked out. I mean playing with older guys that are little better than me and a little bigger than me, it’s been great and really, like, helped me with everything. They’re also like some of the best kids in school and so they help me out with, like, school work and stuff too.
What about the experience of living away from home?
Living away from home..
Was it tough for you?
Yeah, a little bit, I mean, I got homesick like probably three times during the year.
I don’t blame you.
Yeah, because I’m out there by myself and, so, they really took me in as their like, little brother or as their older brother…and then, with Takeover, they also took me in as their, like little brother and I feel comfortable with them.
In terms of a position, I’m sure that you’ve heard people wonder where you would play at the next level. What do you think of yourself as?
I think I’m more of a slasher, but I can also post up smaller guards.
What about winning the MVP at the Fab 48 last summer? I was there for that one, but didn’t talk to you afterwards. That was a big turning point for you.
Oh, yeah, that was a tough tournament, man. We was like a major underdog in that one. Nobody expected us to beat all of those teams.
I was shocked when you guys beat Mac (Irvin). I was surprised with the way that you took Jabari out of the game effectively. I mean he’s one of my favorite players and a great kid, but I have to admit that you rattled him.
Yeah, I mean I don’t know if I should admit this either, but he’s one of my favorite players to watch too (laughs) and I’ve known him since fifth grade when he was like a chubby, wide body playing for the Chicago House. He had the same moves, though, and everything.
What about playing now with an actual big guy like (Beejay) Anya and switching teams? Was it natural or…I don’t know if it’s uncomfortable for you to talk because it can get political and even a little fierce. We can just skip it.
No, no, it’s comfortable. It’s comfortable now because, you know, you saw us, I mean, last year we didn’t have any big men on our squad or AAU team and…
Let’s be honest. You were the big man on the team..
Or, at best, guarding the other team’s big man. It was kind of ridiculous.
Yeah, I was guarding like 6’8,” 6’9,” 6’10,” 6’11”
Yeah, but it may help you, long-term, defensively.
Yeah, I think so too. I think it’ll help my game. You know I’m really more of a defensive player right now. Playing against those guys all the time makes it seem so much easier now to guard wings or whatever.
I was talking with one your Takeover coaches for a while and he said that they were so pleased with how you were just shutting down the other team’s wing. It’s just one less problem to have to worry about defensively.
I was saying that even if they get around you that it’s a nice luxury for you to be able to have a shot-blocker like Anya behind you and makes the other team think twice about even trying to drive around a physical guy like you and that 7’2″ wingspan.
It’s more like I feel like that I’m on a mission. I want to shut that guy down. I want to just take that guy out.
There aren’t too many really “shutdown defenders” right now.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s not a lot of shutdown defenders and I feel like, if I can become a truly shutdown defender (massive boom sound from a table collapsing), well, boom! It’s something that I work at and am trying to take to the next level.
What was the thinking behind committing to Missouri as a sophomore and then opening it right back up about a month later? Did you rush it or get pressured?
(Laughs) I was actually comfortable at Missouri.
Well, your older brother went there.
Yeah, exactly, my older brother goes there and is graduating. My cousin goes there. He’s Marcus Denmon (graduating shooting guard for Missouri) and then I have other friends that were there like Michael Dixon. We grew up like five minutes from each other and we always played pickup together and we worked out with the same players.
Yeah, mostly Raytown and Lee’s Summit.
In terms of style of play, for most guys, it’s pretty obvious which way that they prefer to play, but, with you, it’s like a good street baller, where you can play up-and-down or you can grind it out in the half-court. Which way do you actually prefer to play?
Really, I can get up-and-down the court, but I can adapt to anything. Whatever the coaches want to run, I’ll do. I can grind too. It’s really up to them. I’m just happy to be out there competing. Yeah, I’m up for anything.
What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses right now?
My strengths are getting to the basket and finishing, posting up, and passing the ball. My weaknesses right now is, well, I’d have to say that my shooting is right now, which obviously we’re trying to work on.
Are you working on it at Montrose because I remember that Justin Anderson used to be terrible at outside shooting and now he’s become so much better?
Yes, yes, definitely, we are working on that all of the time and you’re right he’s improved so much since he’s been there.
What about the NHSI and playing on television?
Oh, that was a good experience, but it was a really tough loss.
What about Duke’s interest in you?
Yeah, they’re actually interested in me because they need a big wing that can stop people and one that can slash to the basket.
What have they talked to you about?
Oh, they’ve been actually talking to my parents and my high school coaches and everything.
And what’s your interest level in them? They’ve been watching you all weekend.
It’s really high right now because they’ve been watching me all weekend. I see Coach K every game (laughs). It’s almost hard to take in that he’s now actually, like, recruiting me.
Do you have any plans to visit yet?
I don’t know, but I haven’t made any plans to visit really any school yet. I’m just concentrating on school right now.
Generally, talk about being physical and loving to rebound.
Oh, I love to be physical and get in there and fight. I love to rebound too. I want to try to give my teammates and coaches at least ten rebounds in every game. That’s my goal. I love to do it, man. Just get us more possessions or shots.
Is there a player or two that you try to model your game after?
Melo. Well, Melo and LeBron. Those are my guys.
What’s your current size?
You’re one of eight brothers and sisters. Well, some are step brothers..
Oh, yes, it’s a big family. You should check out my younger brother, Amaad (Wainright). He should be on the scene pretty soon.
I was reading your blog. You grew up actually as a Florida fan in Missouri. They’re recruiting you now. Will that play a factor in your decision?
Yes, I did and I’d like to go down there for a visit.
Who will you turn to for guidance, whenever you do decide on a college?
My Uncle. I have an Uncle, who is like a mentor to me, Uncle Alex.
You’ve always played up, but now there’s nowhere to go.
(laughs) It’s hard. It’s feels kinda weird. I’m now finally playing against guys my age and younger. It’s definitely a different or strange feeling. (laughs)
I must say that the elephant in the room is that you just look huge close up. I’m in the gym a lot, but you look like you live there right now.
Are you trying to get bigger with your body? Leaner? What’s the goal here? What are we doing?
I’m actually trying to get leaner. I feel like I’m a little too heavy when I’m going around the court. So, I’m actually trying to cut more body fat and weight. I want to try to get down to, at least, 220.
Have you worked on conditioning a lot at Montrose too?
Really, that’s more of a “every once in a while” type of thing.
Growing up in Raytown, you were fifty miles from KU and one hundred and twenty miles from Missouri. It’s less than twenty minutes south of Kansas City. I was there last October, but talk about growing up there. It’s not a bad area.
Oh, well, it was a nice area to grow up in, but it’s gotten a little less worse now. That’s why I’m trying to work my butt off right now to get some options (laughs).
I thought it was funny that in your blog, you wrote about GW having a boring Midnight Madness, but you liked the Howard one.
I appreciated your honesty. By the way, how has the experience been with your writing and getting people to know about you through your blog?
I’m actually trying to work on the next one. I’ve got to do work on the next update and I’m going to try to do some stuff on the plane, but you’re exactly right. It’s a way for me as an athlete to get my words out there. It’s a way for people to know me because I think, in the past, people thought that I was a little cocky guy or whatever.
That’s it. I can see them waving that you have to run. Thanks for your time and good luck next week.
Yeah, I do. Thanks for doing this. I’ll see you later.
Some talents are identified early, but every year there are a few players that blossom later in life. One young man, 6’9″ Marcus Lee, used his unusual mix of speed, size, and jumping ability this weekend to catapult onto every major program’s radar. [private] Lee, who is a gregarious and fun-loving young man, is from Antioch, California, an East Bay city of more than one hundred thousand people.
An all-league volleyball player with a wingspan of 86″, he’s tried to carve out a niche as a superior shot-blocker and rebounder. This past season for his Deer Valley HS, he registered fifteen triple-doubles and averaged nearly fourteen rebounds, fourteen points, and just over nine blocks per game en route to being named co-MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League. The Northern California big man helped the Deer Valley Wolverines win their first league title and make their first NCS title game. He ended the season on a tear registering a triple-double of twenty-one points, twelve rebounds, and eleven blocks in the NCS semi-finals and scoring twenty-two points in the title game before fouling out with with 3:54 in regulation. Offensively, he demonstrates good court vision for a big man, a trait which may be attributable to spending a little time playing some point guard for his high school team.
This past weekend, he helped the California Supreme and head coach Miles Simon, the former Arizona player and coach, go undefeated at the Minnesota leg of Nike’s EYBL. Duke coaches Krzyzewski, Capel, and Wojciechowski all watched Lee, a B+ student, score twelve points, block four shots, and grab five rebounds in a win against the Louisiana Select in twenty-six minutes.
Marcus’ older brother and mentor, Bryan Lee, was an all-Pacific West player at Grand Canyon University, a Division II program in Phoenix, and currently works as a technical recruiter for Google. Lee, who played last year for the Bay Area Hoosiers on the AAU circuit, credits his older brother for his development. When thinking about colleges, he’s looking for a warm climate and a coach that makes him feel comfortable, in a similar manner to his AAU coach, Miles Simon.
After the last game was over, Marcus, spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of issues, including Duke’s interest and Miles Simon.
Let’s just start with a basic one. How do you feel that you and the team played this weekend?
Oh, I feel that I played great. I love playing in the national events and the team really played well together, which helped us get wins and was probably unlike any other team here. We played really as a unit. It was just great.
Shot-blocking is obviously something that you’re known for. Talk about that skill and your background in volleyball.
Oh, yeah, sure, volleyball is just a different type of jumping. It helps and I wish could explain it, but it just does.
Well, one guard that I know said that the plyometrics training in volleyball helped with his explosion for basketball.
Yeah, I think that’s it.
How much of shot-blocking for you has been about improving your timing?
Yeah, well, that’s been the key and volleyball has been great about that because it’s all about timing. Now, that I think about volleyball also helps you to calm down and just concentrate on timing. It’s very calming and you just block out other things.
So, you find it almost peaceful.
Oh, yeah, definitely.
I know that you’ve grown a little bit. What’s your reach right now, if you happen to know?
Oh, yeah, it’s 7’2.”
I heard that you were trying to carve a niche as a shotblocker and rebounding specialist. Playing to your strengths to set yourself apart from some other guys.
Oh, yeah, well, I mean I started to think about blocking shots first and about how that was something that I was really good at and I’m 6’9″…So, I thought that I should first just concentrate on making myself the best at that and then the rest of my game would improve as well. It was just something that I thought I was good at and, you know, I thought why not concentrate on trying to make myself really good at that.
What position are most schools recruiting you as, a four or a five?
Dude, I just don’t know.
Well, what position do prefer to play?
I just want to play. So, wherever they tell me to play, I’ll go do it, man. I’m just happy to be out there.
How do you feel that your offense is coming along?
Oh, it’s been great. I’m having fun. When you’re having fun, you can’t lose.
Let’s move onto recruiting. What programs are recruiting you right now?
Everybody really. A lot of schools
What about a timeline? Do you have a time when you’d like to decide by or cut down on your list?
No, I’m in no real rush with that. I don’t have any plans or anything like that.
Who will be some people that you will turn to for guidance, whenever you do decide?
Oh, yeah, my brother, Bryan, and my coach, I mean, my Uncle Mark.
I was reading that a school with warm weather is something that you were serious about. Is that accurate and will distance be a factor as well?
Oh, yeah, I’ve got to be in warm weather, but distance really doesn’t matter or bother me.
Is there a player that you’ve tried to model your game after?
Actually, my brother. I’ve tried to model his game.
That’s unique. Usually, guys will say a pro or hot college player. Were you a fan of any team growing up?
I’ve always been a North Carolina fan.
Well, that may make the next question a bit rough.
(laughs) Oh, really.
What about Duke’s interest in you? They watched you play a few times this weekend. How do you feel about their interest in you and would you be open to them, given your prior answer?
Oh, yeah, man, it was funny because we actually were talking them watching us for, like, the whole time while we were on the bench. It was amazing. We loved it.
Alright, well, then let me just ask if you personally would be open to them?
Oh, yeah, man, totally. I’d be way open to them. Way open!
Have you taken any visits recently and do you have any planned?
No, I haven’t taken any visits recently and I actually don’t have any really planned either.
Let’s talk about Miles Simon and his coaching.
Oh, he’s been amazing. He’s very encouraging and he’s a high energy guy. He’s very supportive and encouraging to everybody on the team. He’s always ready and prepared. He’s an excellent motivator. Even when we’re a bit sluggish or not ready, he’ll be like, “Yeah, let’s go! Let’s go!” (laughs) He gets the guys energized and motivated. It’s been fun to play for him.
What are you hoping to show coaches this AAU season?
I really don’t know. I’m not sure.
What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court?
That I’m just a really good, chill guy.
What’s your current height?
How does AAU compare to the high school ball for you?
Oh, everybody’s much bigger and the teams are just stacked at this level. Almost every player here will be college ball at some level. Everybody’s huge too.
What are your goals, short and long-term?
Just to never really get big-headed. I don’t want to become someone else or ever think that I’m too good for people. To always be approachable and grounded..
What style of play do you prefer to play?
A good, chill running gazelle type of play. (laughs) Just let’s run. That’s what I like.
Do you actually watch a lot of basketball?
Actually, between school and basketball, I really have a hard time watching basketball. There’s just not enough time.
Lastly, what will you be looking for in a college program, other than the weather?
I’ll be looking for a coaching staff that’s encouraging and supportive.
Like you were saying about Miles Simon?
Yeah, someone like him and a place that I can feel comfortable in and a fun place to play basketball and go to school.
By the way, where did your play basketball?
Oh, Grand Canyon University.
Thank you very much, Marcus. I know you guys are trying to catch a plane.
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 email@example.com so we can have you approved after checking your paypal payment. [/private]
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Last year, Rodney Purvis was a carefree, rising sophomore, who had just finished his freshman year at Upper Room Christian Academy. Sporting braces, he was set to spend a summer as the youngest member of Chris Paul’s 17-and-under CP3 All-Stars and be the only member of the 2013 class attending the King City Classic. After a successful summer on the AAU circuit, the Raleigh native had a bevy of schools pitching their merits. Last October, Purvis decided to accelerate his recruiting process by reclassifying back into his original 2012 class. In December, he took it a step further by verbally committing to the University of Louisville.
In April, he began playing once again for the CP3 All-Stars and head coach, Tony Edwards. During this year’s Nike’s EYBL season of fifteen games played over the course of three sessions in Virginia, Dallas, and Los Angeles, Purvis played quite well andwas quickly forced to become the vocal leader of his newly banded squad. Always known as a scorer (entered the final game ranking second in scoring in Nike’s EYBL) and a penetrator, the 6’3″ combo guard worked on his point guard skills over the past two months, while expanding his shooting range. He finished fifth in the EYBL in assists andshot 42% from beyond the three-point line over CP3’s fifteen games. As part of his growing leadership role, one of the young AAU teammates he sought to mentor was Greensboro, NC freshman Theo Pinson, who chose to attend Duke’s Countdown to Craziness and was recently named ESPN’s number one prospect in the class of 2014.
On May 2nd of this year, Rodney Purvis de-committed from Louisville. The action was in reaction to the departure of Tim Fuller, a well-traveled assistant, who was most recently with Louisville and with whom Purvis had developed a relationship over the years. Coach Fuller elected to head out to Columbia, Missouri to join Coach Frank Haith’s staff.
In the City of Angels, Raleigh’s Rodney Purvis spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a myriad of topics.
Can you talk about opening up your recruitment?
Straight ahead is another outstanding in depth interview with a main Duke target from our recruiting analyst, Andrew Slater. As you can see by the intro alone, Andrew knows his subject matter through and through. At BDN, our representatives have not only seen these kids play various times in person, they study tirelessly in a effort to bring you the best interviews available on any Duke site. Join BDN Premium and see for yourself the immense quality BDN brings to the table. And if you don’t like this interview? I will give you a full refundwithin 24 hours. It’s time to join the site that really knows the way around the recruiting trail. Many more interviews coming your way and we personally think you will not only see the difference in coverage, but you will agree, it is unmatched . Do you think you know Rodney Purvis and his situation? Then you must already be a member of BDN Premium. [private]
Well, after Coach Fuller left, me and my family felt that it was best for me to open up my recruitment and develop a relationship with the new coaching staff. That’s how that happened.
You touched on it, but what did the impact of Tim Fuller leaving have on your decision?
Oh, it was a huge impact! He’s kinda like a big brother to me and I mean I’ve known him for a really long time. I just felt comfortable going to Louisville… with him being there. So, him leaving was kind of like a setback or whatever.
And how did you first meet him? How did you guys get to know each other a little better? I know of his involvement with Nike.
Yeah, over the Nike stuff and him and Chris Paul was cool and then I was playing for Chris’ team and I got to know him and so..
What was their reaction when you told them the news? Were they cool with it or were they a little angry?
Oh, I’m not really sure. I just spoke with Coach Keatts and the new coaching staff that was there. So, I’m…I’m not really sure.
Alright, we can just move on..
(laughs) Yeah, yeah, yeah
With some perspective, what are you looking for this time, as opposed to when you initially decided?
Oh, I’m definitely trying to get a relationship with every single coach on the coaching staff and, most importantly, the head coach this time. We’ll just go from there.
Now, is that a lot different from when you first decided? You’re a little older and more mature.
Do you have a timeframe for when you’d like to decide by?
Oh, no, I don’t have anything in mind.
Do you know where you’ll be going to high school next year?
Upper Room Christian Academy
Oh, okay, I was looking at the school’s website and they said they’re only going through eleventh grade this year and likely expanding through twelfth grade next year.
In terms of high school, what are your goals for next year?
Oh, I’m trying to be a McDonald’s All-American next year and finish up, at least, top five in the country. Not that rankings don’t really matter to me, but I just want to set that as a goal for myself.
Before meeting with you, I was re-reading an interview that we had done last summer at the LeBron. You said, at the time, your goals were to get stronger so that you could finish through contact and that you wanted to improve your jumper, both mid-range and three-point shooting. Do you feel like you’ve improved in both of those areas over the past year?
Oh, I think I’m doing pretty good with it, you know. I’m up at five o’clock in the morning and in the gym every day working on my jump shot and different dimensions of my game. I feel like I’ve improved a lot, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
What about in the strength area, how have you tried to improve?
Oh, yeah, I’m trying in that area too. I’m going to an aerobics class and a yoga class.
I saw the other day that you said on Twitter that the whole family is going to yoga classes now.
Yeah, yeah. (laughs)
There’s a little bit of a downtime in the next month. What are you hoping to improve upon most this summer?
Still my skill work. I want to keep improving my jumper. I want to keep working on becoming a better leader. I want to work on my point guard skills. That’s it.
Are you trying to become more of a pure point or just improve one area of being a combo guard?
Yeah, exactly, I still want to be a combo. I don’t want to take away from my scoring.
Yeah, because, no offense, but your strength is your scoring, particularly off of penetration.
Yes, it is.
You were just mentioning that you wanted to improve your leadership ability. How has your role changed on this particular AAU team versus the one you were on last year?
Oh, well, you know last year I was the youngest on the team, but I guess I didn’t really play a huge part to the team.
Well, you made important contributions. There were games where they needed you to be the second or third option on the team.
Yeah, you’re right. I mean I started every now and then. I just tried to come in and bring energy when I came in the game.
Back to leadership..
Yeah, that’s definitely something I want to work on with this team. They really look at me as the leader.
When I saw you in Dallas, I saw that different dimension, where, now, guys are looking to you and the coaches wanted you to set the tone out there.
Speaking of your teammates, can you give the audience a little scouting report or run down on Theo (Pinson)?
Oh, yeah, Theo’s long. He’s very athletic. He’s still young and he’s still got some maturing to do. By the time it’s all said and done, he’ll be a really good player.
What kind of advice or guidance do you try to give him?
I just try to stay on him all of the time. You know sometimes he messes up and thinks he’s playing with his age group.
You know he’ll come in with, like a weak lay-up or something like that.
A little cocky.
(laughs) Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I just try to stay on him. He’s got to know that it’s a different ballgame out here.
Well, you went through it. You were the young guy.
Yeah, but Dez (Wells) and John Wall would stay on me all the time when I’d be playing with them.
Still, right now, I feel kinda normal. Just playing the game.
Who are some guys that you’ve become close with nationally that you’ve met through AAU basketball or camps?
Shabazz Muhammad, Winston Sheppard, Kyle Anderson, Myles Mack, Rasheed Sulaimon, and L.J. Rose. That’s about it.
Mostly through AAU and Nike…
How have you grown as a person and as a player in the last year?
As a person, you know, I’m always open to talking to everybody.
I can vouch for that.
(laughs) So, everybody pretty much thinks that I’m a pretty good person. That’s what I care about most. That’s what I care about most, you know, being a pretty good person. I’d rather somebody tell me how good of a person I am than that I played well out on that court.
Right, that’s good to hear.
I know you’re down to four or five schools now. What are the positives of each of those programs?
Well, you know, Kentucky, with Calipari, kind of speaks for himself. You know him with guards and stuff. With Duke, same thing, you know, Coach K is a great coach and it’s quite close to home. With NC State, Coach Gottfried and stuff with guards and it’s also close to home and then Louisville.
And you know those guys.
With the four that you mentioned, you common theme was their use of guards.
How important was that in the narrowing down process? Was that something that you were specifically looking for?
Oh, yeah, I’m definitely looking for somewhere where I can go and play free. Just get everybody involved and win games.
So, you’re not looking for too much of a structured offense?
(laughs) Oh, of course, I’m looking for a structured offense. I’m looking for whatever it takes to win, but I mean..
Not too much..
Yeah, I’d like to feel a little free out there.
I don’t think you’re allowed, but are you going to be playing in the NC Pro-Am this year?
No, they said that high school players couldn’t play this year, but, if I could, I would.
For those that want to check you out, what’s your schedule like the rest of the summer?
I’m going to be at the LeBron Skills Academy..
Yeah, the Peach Jam too.
Are you going to Orlando or Vegas this year?
Orlando this year.
What’s your favorite event?
Probably the LeBron, but I want to get out and do the Boost Mobile 24 this year… if I can get invited.
Don’t worry about getting invited. Make the plane reservations now.
In terms of Twitter, what do you get out of it? Are you trying to build an audience and get in touch with your fans? As much as any recruit, you’ve seen both the positives and negatives of it. You’ve seen both sides unfortunately.
Oh, yeah, well, with Twitter, I try to keep it as clean as possible. Just talking to everyone. Sometimes, it gets a little out of whack…with some of the comments and things they say about me, but I try not to, um….
Let it roll off of your back ..
Yeah, you know.
Initially, was it a problem for you or did you have thick skin?
Oh, no, it was never a problem. I would just talk about it with my mom and we’d just laugh about it.
Tell the audience a little bit about you mother.She’s always active and vocal.
(laughs) Oh, yeah, she’s a great mom. She’s a single mother.
Sadly, I know your father died a few years ago.
Yeah, thanks, so, you know, we kind of grew up together. If anything ever happens, I just go to her and we just talk it out.
What kind of person is she?
Oh, she’s great. She just wants what’s best for me at the end of the day. That’s what I like most about her. She stays on me a lot.
Do you have any visits planned? Have you spoken with any coaches lately?
No, I don’t have any visits planned, but I did speak with coaches lately. I spoke with Coach Early at NC State and Coach Jeff Capel and Coach K at Duke.
What do you guys talk about? Let’s start with Coach Capel and Coach K.
Oh, most of those things are just relationship builders.
You getting to know them and them getting to know you.
What about Coach Early?
Yeah, I talked to Coach Early and Coach Gottfried too. Those two are just great guys. I’m trying to get to know them and they’re trying to get to know me. They’re telling how they’re going to be new this year.
So, I just want to make sure… You don’t have any visits planned over the next couple of weeks.
No, I don’t have anything planned.
How do you feel you’ve played so far this AAU season?
I feel I’ve stepped up and played pretty well. My team’s winning games and, so, that helps everything. I feel like I’m making strides. I just want to continue to get better at each event.