Tag Archives: Pango’s

Thon Maker 1

2016 7-Footer Thon Maker Can Be a Game Changer — BDN Chats With Him

Thon MakerThon Maker is a 7 footer who is incredibly long and with arms that never seem to stop.  He is Class of 2016, which means he’s finishing up the 9th grade.  But the young man is very much on the radar of numerous major powers, and he played very well at last weekend’s Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, making the all-star game.  Thon originally comes from the Sudan, then lived in Australia, before settling a few years ago in Virginia.  He runs with the Boo Williams AAU squad.  In a separate post to come, I’ll describe what I see in his game, but suffice it to say at this point that based on the skills he already possesses, if he learns to maximize his height and length, and puts on weight, the sky is the limit.

One of Thon’s coaches at Boo Williams accompanied him to Long Beach last weekend, and sat in on our interview as well.  He also chimed in with regard to a few of the questions, when Thon deferred to him.  Here’s how it went:

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BDN: All right.  I’m here at the Pangos Camp with Thon Maker, who is certainly the tallest and longest young man that I’ve seen here so far at the camp.  So Thon: I thought that first, you’re kind of a new guy on the radar for a lot of fans, so I thought maybe you could introduce yourself a little bit and tell us a little bit about yourself.  I know you have an interesting back story.  If you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

 

TM: I’m Thon Maker.  7 feet tall.  Just turned 16.  From Australia.  Right now living in Martinsville, Virginia.  I play for Carlyle School.

 

BDN: Before you were in Austalia though, you come from where?

 

TM: South Sudan.

 

BDN: How long have you been in the States?

 

TM: Two years now.

 

BDN: And did you start playing ball in Sudan, or in Austalia, or not really so much until you got to the States?

 

TM: In Australia.

 

BDN: Any of your family come over with you, or is your family still in Australia?  Could you tell us a little bit about your support system here?

 

TM: Coach Smith right here is the family I have right now in the States.  I’ve been with him since 2009-2010.  2009 actually.

 

BDN: So like I said it seems like your kind of new on the radar.  You’re getting a lot of attention here in a relatively short period of time.  If you could give us a sense of what that’s like.  Is life just crazy with all the attention from everybody or are you able to keep it under control or how’s that been?

 

TM: I have a plan and I just gotta keep it focused and keep on working hard.

 

BDN: What’s your plan?

 

TM: Eventually to get into the league.

 

BDN: Yeah, I think you share that with a lot of the guys that are here, of course.  If you, for the fans that haven’t seen you play, how would you describe your game?  Tell us some of the things that you think are your strengths, maybe some other things you think you need to work on . . .

 

TM: Well first off, I play hard to win.  You gotta play to win first.  And anything else . . . as long as I’m winning, I’ll have fun within the game.  And I just got to keep my team in control so we can get that win together.  And play hard.

 

BDN: I have to say, as I was just watching you play right now, for a guy your size, the handle that you have and the smoothness of the shot is pretty impressive.  You must’ve spent a lot of time working on that part of your game.

 

TM: Yes, we have.  (laughing)

 

BDN: Now tell me, what are some of the areas that you think you need to work on the most?

 

TM: Right now, I’m watching “Kobe Doing Work” and  . . .

 

BDN: Kobe’s doing some work on his Achilles right now . . .

 

TM: (laughing) The show “Kobe Doing Work”

 

BDN: I know.

 

TM: And I got to get the same mindset down or even better and doing a lot of skipping and working with a lot of squeezing a tennis ball to get my hands stronger.  You know, catching the ball.

 

BDN: Yeah, that’s an important thing obviously for a big guy cuz when you get a guy dishing to you, you want to be able to handle it.  That’s a smart thing, to work on your hands, your forearms, to strengthen that area?

 

TM: Yeah.

 

BDN:  What did you say you weigh?

 

TM: 200 pounds.

 

BDN: 200.  Most people would probably take a look at you and say, “hey.  It would be good for him to put on some weight.”  Is that part of the plan, or not necessarily?

 

Edward Smith:  We have a four year plan and so we figure that at 200 by his senior year he should be around 235.  We’ve come from 2011 when he was 165 and we’ve come –

 

BDN: Still 7 feet?

 

ES: No, he was 6’9”.  And so we’ve progressed.  You know, we’re putting on the weight smart and he’s working, doing a lot of band work and he’s lifting a little bit, just touching upon it, but you know, we don’t want to lose his speed, his quickness.  That’s his asset.

 

BDN: So many guys make that mistake.  They just put weight on for the sake of weight and then they lose their quickness, their agility.  Seems like you’re pretty determined to make sure that doesn’t happen with Thon.

 

ES: Well, it’s a different game these days.  The stretch 4 or combo forward is important in the game and he’s able to facilitate the offense from different areas, so we’re trying to get him to work on the elbows, the top of the key and the mid-post right now, for now.

 

BDN: Work on the low post later?

 

ES: He posts deep right now against these guys.  I think at the next level they’re going to move him so much because you want to get other big guys to chase him.  Bring him off pindowns.  If you can bring him off screens, with his shot, you get a big guy trying to chase him, you have a switch-out with a little guard.  He’s shooting over the top of the little guard and  —

 

BDN: That’s what the Heat’s doing with Bosh.

 

ES: Yeah, but (laughing) you want to give a little bit more –

 

BDN: (laughing) You don’t want to go there . . .

 

ES: (laughing) I’ll leave that . . .  I don’t want him to just sit on the perimeter because he could be a little bit more effective like . . . Chris Bosh could be a little bit more effective rebounding.

 

BDN: He could.

 

ES: That’s what you want him to do.  You don’t want him to be a guy that drifts.  You want him to get there, not just sit –

 

BDN: With a purpose.

 

ES: Yeah.  So he can find his game in other areas rather than sit in the corner.

 

BDN: Totally makes sense.  Thon, let me ask you:  list of schools.  Who’s been reaching out the most, who’s kinda making an early impression on you school-wise.  Of course everyone’s going to want to know that.

 

TM: Again, that’s his answer.  (laughs)

 

ES: It’s so early in the picture and so when you start looking at schools like Duke, you start looking at Carolina’s from our area being in Martinsville, Virginia, you look at Virginia in the ACC, Maryland, those types of schools.  You want to make sure, even Duke, will the coach still be around in four years?  Because it’s more so than the institution, it’s also the coaching staff.  And so that’s important.  So when coaches are like, around like late sophomore year you start focusing on.  We’ve heard from Ohio State, Memphis, LSU, Arizona, UConn, Miami, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgetown.  I mean, those are the guys that  — Virginia, Maryland – guys who have been in the mix.  We haven’t really heard from Duke yet.

 

BDN: That was going to be my next question.  Have you —  Duke hasn’t really reached out yet?

 

ES:  No, not yet.

 

BDN: You think they will, though?

 

ES: I think they will.

 

BDN: Let me ask you, Thon.  When it does come time, and I know it’s early, but how big of a factor is the educational quality of the school going to be for you.  Some guys it is and some guys, honestly, “I’m there to ball” and the academics may not be as important.  What about for you?

 

TM: I take my academics serious, you know.  I gotta compete on the court and with my books.  So right now I’m sitting on a 4.08, is it?  And the same thing, being on the court and with my grades.  I look forward to it.

 

BDN: What do you think, when the time comes are going to be the biggest factors for you?  Obviously we’re a very long way from a decision, but at this early stage what do you think are some of the most important factors that are gonna go into it when you have to decide between schools?

 

TM: Coaching, personnel also, you gotta see what type of school it is, basically that.

 

BDN: When it comes to Duke, coach, is it actually a concern, coach, as far as Coach K’s longevity and being there, because I haven’t heard of him showing any signs that he’s going anywhere.

 

ES: No.  Four years from now, things change for guys.  He does so much for the game.  USA Basketball, gets another gold medal.  Wins a couple more national championships.   Sometimes guys want to hang it up, and you have to look at that situation.  You kind of look at, guys who are getting guys to the league, guys who can say —  how he’s (Thon) going, if he keeps working as hard as he is, you’re looking at a two year window, at max, in college.  If we all do what we’re supposed to do, including everybody around the situation.  So you want to make sure that the right people are there, the right people are there to facilitate that and you stay along the path.  We have some good people in our AAU circle, Boo Williams, work with John Lucas also. We have a small little circle of people between Boo and John Lucas  that we work with, and so we have a plan with that.

 

BDN: That sounds good.  What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

 

TM: Just finish strong.  A lot of camps this month and leave a great impression.

 

BDN: What camps are you gonna be at?

 

ES: We have the Elite 100 in St. Louis from the 5th to the 9th.  Then we have the NBA Players Association Camp in Charlottesville the 12th through the 16th.    Then we’ll be at one of the Skills Academies, either Amare or Kevin Durant Skills Academy.  And that’s still June.  And then we have, early July if he makes it, the LeBron camp.   That would be capping your camp sessions.  Then we have the Peach Jam. And then we have Nationals in Orlando.  We shut it down after that.

 

BDN: He’ll be ready to shut it down.  He’ll be ready for a rest.

 

BDN: Well listen, I really appreciate your taking the time, actually both of you, to speak with us, and I hope to see you again on the circuit and catch up with you soon.

 

TM: Thank you.

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The Isaiah Briscoe Interview: A Boogie Up Production

 

6’3″ Isaiah “Boogie” Briscoe of NJ, Photo by Andrew Slater

In the final game of his freshman campaign, 6’3″ guard Isaiah “Boogie” Briscoe scored a team-leading seventeen points for St. Benedict’s against eventual ESPN National High School Invitational Champion Findlay Prep. Throughout the season, Briscoe demonstrated a maturity and fearlessness that belied his youth.

Playing for a program that starts very few freshman, Briscoe nevertheless started in the Gray Bees backcourt with the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, 6’2″ Tyler Ennis, and 6’3″ future Miami Hurricane Melvin Johnson. Under the guidance of Mark Taylor, they elevated the program to a 36-3 record, with Boogie averaging over thirteen points and over five assists against a challenging national schedule. For his efforts, the Union, New Jersey native was named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team, along with his close friend, 6’11” Karl Towns, also of New Jersey.

Briscoe received scholarship offers before he ever set foot on a high school court, and they have continued to rain in from across the country.  He has already received offers from Syracuse, Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Baylor, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Seton Hall, as well as interest from Duke, Kentucky, and Ohio State.

Briscoe’s bloodlines are long and deep. His dad, George Briscoe, was a standout for Stockton State College in New Jersey, and now works in Newark, NJ as part of a community action group. His older sister, 5’11” Iasia Hemingway, just finished her final season as a member of Syracuse’s women’s basketball team. Isaiah’s cousin, Kyrie Irving of West Orange, NJ and Duke University, was recently named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

New Jersey Guard Isaiah “Boogie” Briscoe, Photo by Andrew Slater

“Boogie” Briscoe has other connections to Duke University.  St. Benedict’s is the alma mater of 2010 National Champion and current Hornet forward Lance Thomas.  Coach Mark Taylor coached former Duke All-American and current ESPN analyst Jason Williams for four years at nearby St. Joe’s of Metuchen, NJ.  At a press conference at the NHSI, Coach Taylor reportedly said that he sometimes teases Williams that Isaiah may wind up developing into a better player than the former national high school player of the year.

There’s been no rest after the high school season for the promising young guard from the Garden State. He’s now played ten Nike EYBL games this AAU season for the New Jersey Playaz, the AAU program of former Duke guard and current Bobcat Gerald Henderson, and helped them qualify for next month’s Peach Jam in South Carolina. Briscoe participated in last month’s Mary Kline Classic, a charity basketball event dedicated to raising money for brain cancer research, named after the mother of his close friend Alex Kline.

This June, “Boogie” Briscoe headed to Long Beach, California to participate in the Pangos All-American Camp. Although he was one of the youngest participants, his fearless play resulted in his being named a Pangos Cream of the Crop Top 30 selection. Last weekend, Briscoe participated in Nike’s Elite 100, a St. Louis-based showcase designed to find and enhance some of the best young talent in the country.

Isaiah “Boogie” Briscoe spoke with Blue Devil Nation about Coach Taylor’s comparison to former NBA lottery pick Jay Williams, about fighting complacency, and on the advice he received from Kyrie Irving, among other things.

 

 

 

Let’s talk about your season at St. Benedict’s and how it went overall. [private]

You know I had a great first year. I think I finished with 517 (points) playing with Melvin (Johnson, a Miami commitment) and Tyler (Ennis, the Gatorade Player of the Year for New Jersey). It was a great experience. We went 36-3, went to ESPN Rise, and I just think we played well.

You had a chance to play on national television this year in the NHSI.

It was a great experience to play on ESPN and going against great guards like Dominic Artis. Just playing in front of everybody and competing is just great and I had fun. We competed.

Did you feel any added pressure being on TV?

 I don’t believe in pressure so playing on TV is like playing here or on the playground or anything like that. 

What did you think when your coach at St. Benedict’s, Mark Taylor, said you may wind up better than Jason Williams. How do you feel about that comparison? That’s some pretty high praise.

Yeah, it is and it’s a blessing. You know I’m a freshman and comparing me to the second overall pick in the draft, it’s just a blessing and as I continue to work hard maybe I can follow after him. I mean he was a lottery pick and the player of the year in college. It’s a lot to live up to. He’s a tremendous player.

 

 Speaking of Jason Williams, another Duke guard, your cousin Kyrie, just won the Rookie of the Year award in the NBA. You must be very proud of him.

You know that’s great. I work out with him sometimes when he’s back home so him winning rookie of the year is just great for the family and everything. I just want to follow in his footsteps especially and keep it in the family.

Does he give you any advice?

Yeah, he always gives me advice. He tells me to keep working hard, do right in school, keep my head straight and everything else will follow. 

What are your goals for the rest of the summer?

Well, you know we’re going to the Peach Jam. I want to do well in the Peach Jam and perform well. And just get in the gym and work on my speed and agility with my father and that’s probably it.

You were mostly a combo or two guard on the St. Ben’s team, but what do you view yourself as long-term?

I’m a point guard, but, with Tyler there, he’s one of the top point guards in the country. I’ll do whatever I have to do for us to win. If Coach wanted me to score more, I scored more. Pass more, drive more, whatever, I’ll do it. With Ty and me in the backcourt, we’re gonna be tough next year too. After he graduates, I’ll move over to point guard. It’s his time to shine.

What’s it like playing with Tyler? He had a great year in his own right. Gatorade Player of the Year. You guys are relatively close in age, but is he able to mentor you a bit? 

He’s been great to play with and we’ve got a good chemistry. He shows me some things.

He’s an efficient player.

Oh, yeah, definitely. He makes great decisions. He takes good shots and he can find the open man. He makes it look simple.

People are always interested in recruiting. I know you’ve already got a lot of programs after you. Can you list some of the programs that are interested in you?

Yeah, I’ve been blessed. UConn, Arizona, Syracuse, Florida, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Baylor have all offered so far and schools like Duke, Kentucky, and Ohio State have shown interest.

Are you in a rush to decide?

No, I guess I’m not in a rush, but I’d rather decide sooner than later. My mom would like to take my time. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I want to take, like, four years to decide.

 

What do you consider some of your strengths and weaknesses right now?

My strengths are that I’m an all around point guard. I can play combo, so anything that coach needs me to play I can play. I can score, penetrate, pass. I’m competitive. My weakness, I’m not going to tell you my weakness, you’re just going to have to find out (laughs). I’m working on getting  on my handle, my outside shot, getting quicker, and some footwork.

Are there any players you try and model your game after?

Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Tyreke Evans. Kyrie too.

 Kyrie has taken over that motto of ‘humble and hungry.’  Is that something that you try to follow?

Yeah, yeah, I follow that motto. You know just try and stay level-headed, don’t get too big headed, and just continue to do what I’m doing. Stay hungry!

There’s always a concern that some young people who are ranked highly will become content and satisfied. How do you fight or guard against complacency and not rest on your early laurels?

Just never rest (smiles and laughs). You know whenever I get a chance to go in the gym I’m working hard. Everybody in Cali is always working hard when I’m sleeping so I just got to work hard when I get a chance. I know that there are guys in my class working on their game in Chicago and Vegas and Jersey. You can’t let your guard down.

 What are you looking for in a program when you finally make a decision?

A great education, open court games, pick and roll, a great coach and system and things like that.

Are you a good student?

Pretty good. 

Are you, at least, a B student?

Oh, yeah, definitely. My family always pushes me.

How about your coach? What do you want your coach to be like?

I want him to yell at me and everything, but also understand the game. I want a hall of fame coach and things like that. I want a tough and fair coach. Coach Taylor has helped push me. I like that.

Where do you like to catch the ball most?

Usually on the wings… I can pass, shoot or drive. Tyler gets me the ball in good spots.

Your dad credited some of your toughness from playing a lot in Newark. Do you feel that has had an effect on you and playing with toughness?

It made me a tougher person. When I was younger, I would always hang out with older guys and they’d show me the ropes of the streets and everything.

Let’s discuss your defense a little bit. Where do you feel you’re at with that right now?

If it was graded I think I’m at a solid B. My defense is getting better and it got better dramatically during the high school season. Coach (Mark) Taylor (St. Benedict’s head coach) helped me a lot on my defense so it’s getting better.

Do you have any visits you’re taking this summer?

 Yeah, I didn’t plan it yet, but I’m going to visit Arizona and Florida this summer. 

 Who do you think is the toughest player you’ve had to play against?

I’d say Dominic Artis (2012 Oregon signee) and Kyle Anderson (2012 UCLA signee), those are probably the toughest players I’ve played against. 

There aren’t too many high schools that have produced an NBA player, let alone multiple ones at the same time. At Saint Benedict’s, you’ve got guys like J.R. Smith with the Knicks, Lance Thomas with the Hornets, and Samardo (Samuels) with the Cavs right now. Is there a lot of talk internally about things like legacy or looking to those guys as, sort of, role models?

Yes and no, we look at those guys like we want to get where they already are and we don’t want to let the program drop or anything, but we just try to work on our games and win right now. Hopefully, Melvin (Johnson) will make the NBA and then Tyler (Ennis) and then me. I definitely hope to join all of them in the NBA one day. I’m just trying to work on my game and, hopefully, one day I can get there too. That’s all I can do, you know, work. We respect all of them… a lot.

What are you hoping to show coaches this summer?

That I play hard and smart. I want to show them that I can play with the ball and without. I want to show them that I can score, pass, and that I’m an all-around type of player. I love playing basketball…and hopefully they can see that too.

Can you tell the audience a little bit about your family? Your dad works as part of a community group in Newark and I heard that your mom works in a financial business?

Yeah, my dad tries to help the community in Newark and my mom works in an accounting office.

So, that’s why you do well in school. She’s pretty smart?

Oh, yeah, she’s really smart. (laughs)

You played well in the Mary Kline Classic and helped with the games and some of the behind the scenes things.

Oh, yeah, well, it’s a great cause and Alex (Kline) is a great person. I just wanted to help in any way that I could. There were a lot of good players in that game. I mean Alex has been great to me and helped me a lot with advice. It was a lot of fun and we helped to raise a lot for an important cause.  I talk to Alex almost every day.

What about the Pangos All-American Camp?

Well, it’s great to have a chance to play against some of the best kids from around the country. I think I’ve played well out here and learned some things. It’s been fun.

What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court? 

That I’m a happy kid that likes to make people laugh and smile. That I’m a good kid and I work hard. People always say that I make them laugh.

Speaking of working hard, you work out regularly with your dad, who used to play in college, on Saturday mornings. What do you guys work on primarily?

Oh, we work on just about everything. My handle, shooting from all areas, conditioning. We practice and play for hours. He gets after me.

Speaking of conditioning, what are you trying to do with your body? Get leaner? Get stronger? What are you hoping to improve about your body?

I’m actually pretty lean. It just looks bigger than some guys my age. We’re trying to get quicker and stronger. Those are pretty much the main things.

Where are you working on your strength? At school, a local gym, or home? 

Mostly, the gym.

What are your expectations and goals for the next high school season? 

We’re going to try to win the national title. We want to win the NHSI. We came very close this year, but we’ll be better next year. I’ve got to continue to improve. We’ve got some good talent coming in too!

Has Coach talked with you about how your role or responsibilities might change?

Yes, he said that I’ll be handling the ball more and playing mostly with Tyler. He expects me to step up and take more of a leadership role as a sophomore. I’ve got to keep improving and working. Help the team and be an example with Tyler for other players.

Can you give the audience a scouting report on Karl Towns, one of your close friends? Also what’s he like as a person?

Oh, he’s an incredible player. Karl can shoot as well as any guard, but he’s about 6’11.” He’s got great post moves and he’ll show more of that this year. He’s a great defender and he’s getting stronger too. Off the court, he’s smart. Karl’s a leader and just a great person. He loves to laugh too. He cares a lot about people. We used to play on the same AAU team, but we don’t now. 

You think that you’ll play together again in the future?

Just watch, though, Karl’s gonna join us for AAU in the future. We’ll play again in the future. (laughs) I’m sure of that. I’ve just got to convince him to join us. (laughs)

You were named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team. What did that honor mean to you?

Oh, I’m always grateful for every award or trophy.  I’m trying to help my team win and get better, but it’s always great to have somebody say something positive about your work. It means that you’re doing something right…and I’ve just got to keep it up. I can’t rest or let it get to my head.

 How did you get the nickname “Boogie?”

Oh, it was when I was really young. I’m not sure what age exactly, but I kept running around and people just started calling me “Boogie.”

In the future, would you rather I call you Isaiah or Boogie?

Oh, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s whatever you prefer.

Before one of the schools that you mentioned showing interest in you was Duke, what do you know about their program?

They’re recruiting me. They’re always one of the best programs in the country. They’ve got Coach K. He’s a Hall of Fame Coach. He spoke to me when I was younger. They’ve sent a lot of guys to the League.

What did Coach K say to you?

Just advice. He just told me to keep working hard and maybe they’ll recruit me one day. It was real cool.

Do you have any plans to visit their campus? What do you know about the school itself?

No, not yet, but maybe someday. I don’t really know too much about the campus or school. I’d like to know more.

 What is their pitch to you?

You know, just that I’m on their radar and to keep working hard and to make sure that I’m doing right in school.

You’re still very young so you have a long ways to go. Usually, Duke doesn’t start getting very serious until players are a little older than you. 

Yeah, I don’t know a lot about Duke yet. I know Kyrie went there and they have a lot of NBA players, and Coach K’s a Hall of Fame coach.

Who’s your favorite pro team?

I really don’t have one. I like individual players. I like to watch big or strong guards like Deron Williams, Tyreke, Kyrie, or Chris Paul. There are so many guys that just switch teams.

Who are you close to on the AAU circuit?

 I’m friends with everybody really. I’m close with Karl (Towns) and Kyle (Anderson) and Tyler (Ennis). You know Wayne Selden, Stanley Johnson, Kevin Zabo from CIA Bounce, I’m cool with everybody.

 Thanks a lot for your time. I appreciate it.

Sure thing, I told you I got you.

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Julius Randle Follow Up Interview

LOS ANGELES – Speed, athleticism, size, strength, and basketball IQ. Usually college coaches fight tooth and nail over a prospect that may have 2 or 3 of these attributes, in hopes of landing the next big thing, but when they find one that possesses all of these qualities they are sure to fall head over heels in love with him. Julius Randle has all of these attributes and it shows when he’s on the court. The 6’8 combo forward from Plano, Texas has been showing fans on the AAU circuit why most scouting services have him ranked so high. Possessing a quality inside game and the ability to step outside and attack the hoop, Randle has the ability to dominate games. BDN got a chance to chat briefly with the Texas Titans lefty.

BDN: How is the [private] ankle treating you? You hurt it a few events ago I believe.

JR: It’s feeling great. I’m a lot more explosive right now it’s just been great for me.

How does your role change from your high school team, Prestonwood Christian Academy, to your role in AAU with Texas Titans?

It doesn’t really differ that much, I just do my thing! (laughs)

You seem to do it well

Yes sir! (laughs)

Are you more comfortable on the inside or outside at this point?

I’d say equal really. It just depends on who is guarding me.

So with a smaller guy you’ll go inside..

Yes sir I’ll definitely take him inside.

I notice you really love to use the glass a lot. Have you tried focusing on that?

It’s just naturally really. Not really a practice thing. It’s just touch basically.

Talk to me a little bit about your teammate Matt Jones (2013 SG)?

It’s just amazing to play with him. Over the years he went from shooting in the corner, to where now he basically does everything on the court for us. He’s developed tremendously over the years and now he’s turned himself into a great player.

How do you find being vocal on the defensive end..

Oh yea definitely. Communication is real big you need to talk to your teammates. Talking to your teammates helps you out tremendously.

You have a lot of interest from many schools, specifically the ACC. Recently Duke added Coach Jeff Capel, what’s that relationship like?

Oh yea, Coach Capel is just a great guy, a tremendous guy. He’s just a tremendous coach. He did well with players in the past and it’s exciting to have a relationship with him.

How does he approach you when you talk? As a coach, a friend, a father figure?

He talks to me like a big brother.

I notice he has a very youthful personality.

Oh yea definitely.

Thanks for your time, Julius.

No problem. [/private]

BDN Premium gets to know Rashad Muhammad during the recent Pango’s event

Rashad Muhammad - A. Slater, BDN Photo

Rashad Muhammad is the younger brother of the much heralded Shabazz Muhammad, HoopScoop’s top ranked player in the class of 2012, but he is not  overshadowed by his family’s extensive athletic bloodlines. Rashad’s father, Ron, played basketball at Southern California and his mother, Faye, was an All-American in track at Long Beach State. His older sister, Asia, who spent time at the Agassi Academy, is a budding tennis professional. The youngest Muhammad is a 6’4″ guard, from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, NV, who will team with his older brother in a bid to bring the school three consecutive 4A state titles. Last weekend, he competed with Dream Vision at the Bob Gibbons AAU tournament in North Carolina and toured the schools of the Triangle region. This past weekend, he was invited to the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, California. The rising sophomore played well enough to be selected to the Top 50 Cream of the Crop Game, one of only three members of the class of 2013. After the game, Rashad spoke with Blue Devil Nation about a variety of topics including his recruitment, how he compares, competes, and plays with Shabazz, and his favorite school growing up.

It’s very early in the process, but what schools have expressed interest in you and do you have any firm offers so far?

I have two offers already from USC and Northwestern. I’ve gotten a lot of interest from UNLV, Arizona State, and Arizona as well as USC and Northwestern. There are a lot of other schools showing interest, but those are the only two offers.

What position are those schools looking at you for? What do you like to play?

I’m really more of a one now. I’m trying to learn it. I’ve played the two before, but I just want to learn the one right now.

What’s your current height and weight?

I’m 6’4″ and 180.

Who’s your favorite player?

My favorite player is Kobe Bryant. Yeah (laughs)

How about competing against your brother? That’s got to be a unique experience.

Yeah, it is. We always clash, but [private]  it’s all good. (laughs) I know he’s one of the top players in the country.

You help him out as much as he helps you.

Yeah, that’s the way we feel. It helps us both I think.

Now, do you guys work out together?

Yeah, we work out everyday.

Is that in Vegas or…

It’s in Vegas.

What do you feel are the similarities and differences between you two guys? I had never seen you before this camp, but I have seen Shabazz.

Oh, really, he’s more like an old-fashioned player. He tries to slash to the basket and play inside too. I think I’m more comfortable playing either on or off the ball. I can hit the open jumper.

What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I need to get a little stronger that’s my weakness. I think my strength is my shot. I can shoot the ball pretty well.

Now, can you shoot the ball better than him?

Oh, yeah, yeah (laughs).

What about your father? How does he help out?

He helps us a lot with our workouts. He gets on us and pushes us. He was a former player so that helps.

At USC?

Yeah, he played for USC in the early eighties.

Growing up, did you have a favorite school?

Oh, yeah, my dream school growing up was Duke, but right now I’m looking at a lot of schools.

Have they indicated that they’re going to pursue you? I know it’s very early for them and for you, but you were out there last weekend.

Yeah, we were out there, but maybe in a couple of years or whatever. We’ll see.

I know they don’t offer kids until later in the process. What was your impression of the school, after getting an opportunity to see it up close?

I liked the way they played and the facilities. It was really nice and then we went over and saw UNC.

Did you see the campus at all?

Oh, yeah, we saw that too and just had a nice tour. It was cool.

Last year, for whatever reason, they had you play on the JV team and put up big numbers. I know they’re a great team and they’re going to move you up this year. Talk about that and have you guys ever played together for an organized team?

Well, besides the middle school team, yeah, it’s the first time we’re going to play together.

How do you think that’s going to work?

We play really well together. We know each other. I think it’ll work out alright (laughs). We work well together.

Are you guys interested in playing in college together?

It’s something we’ve thought about we’ll see. We still have time. I’d definitely be interested in that.

Well, I’m sure some Duke fans are hoping you’ll get to play together at your favorite school.

(laughs) Yeah, yeah

In this game, you knocked down several open threes. Do you feel completely comfortable shooting all the way out to the three point line at this point?

Yeah, I think that’s my range right now.

Thanks a lot, Rashad. It was nice to meet you.

Yes,[nodding] thanks a lot [/private]