VENICE BEACH – From the concrete jungle of New York to the sunny beaches of L.A, the Boost Mobile Elite 24 concluded the summers AAU schedule with an All-Star game in Venice Beach. While we didn’t have Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane running the courts, we did have the top 24 high school prospects in the nation.
The event kicked off Wednesday with a Midnight Run at the Hanger Athletic Xchange, also known as the HAX. Starring in the game were the elite high school prospects along with some of the youngest talent the NBA has to offer. Reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans teamed up with DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Bobby Brown and recent #1 draft pick John Wall to take on the youngsters. While the game was full of crossovers and fadeaways, one in particular has gotten fans across the internet buzzing. Austin Rivers, the 6’4 guard from Winter Park High School in Florida, crossed up recent #1 draft pick John Wall and took it straight to the basket for a lay in. Regardless of the big play, the pros dominated most of the games they played in.
The second day of the event offered a training and combine session followed by a scrimmage. Conducting the training session was current Denver Nuggets strength and conditioning coach, Steve Hess. Now, if you’ve never met the guy, all you need to know is he is one of the most intense people you will have ever met. While most players struggled with the core exercises, one particularly stood out, 2011 point guard Myck Kabongo. Ending the combine session was Brandon Jennings discussing his struggles to get to where he is, as well as reminding the players to keep an open mind when it comes to signing a shoe deal. While no one completely dominated the scrimmage, there were a few standout players. 2012 prospect Shabazz Muhammad did show off some of his strong inside moves. The talented wing-forward grabbed multiple rebounds inside showing off his strength, which lead to easy put backs. The other standout was 2011 Findlay Prep point guard Myck Kabongo. Myck displayed his advanced dribbling skills and excellent court vision often making passes you wouldn’t think possible.
The third day offered the skills and dunk competition. 2011 guard Brad Beal of Chaminade College Prep School in St. Louis, Missouri, won the skills competition over Oak Hill point guard Quinn Cook. The dunk competition featured 8 contestants including Deuce Bello, Jahii Carson, Amir Garrett, Nick Johnson, LeBryan Nash, Norman Powell, Gabe York and Stephen Maxwell. Deuce Bello edged out local prospect Stephen Maxwell in the finals, although his most impressive dunk was in the second round when he teamed up with fellow Westchester Day player, Quincy Miller. Quincy, seated under the net, bounced the ball and Bello completed a full windmill over Miller to bring the Venice Beach crowd to their feet.
Concluding the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event was the All-Star game on Saturday. Clear and sunny skies offered the perfect weather for an outdoor basketball game. While the crowd on Friday was much more laid-back, Saturday’s crowd created a much better atmosphere. There was a certain buzz in the air throughout the game. The game offered a typical All-Star feel, big dunks and little to no defense, except in the final minute. Kyle Wiltjer, who committed to Kentucky at halftime, was the games leading scorer with 20. In the end, The Raymond Lewis East Squad beat The Marques Jackson West squad 131-128.
Stay tuned for more interviews with Duke recruiting targets which will be feature this week in BDN Premium, your inside source for on the spot coverage Duke Athletics.
Day one of our Adidas Nations coverage is underway where BDN’s Andrew Slater is on the scene bringing constant updates as they happen to our premium members. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Chris Collins are in the house where they are watching several prospects. One of those is Shabazz Muhammad who just dropped 32 points. Alex Murphy? He just dunked a ball to tie his team’s game up at 74 all with three seconds left on the game clock.
Find out who the Duke staff is watching and how Duke’s hot prospects are doing by becoming a subscriber to the most active Duke site on the AAU circuit, Blue Devil Nation Premium. Andrew has already listed some of the measurements for key recruits at the LeBron Skills Academy in Akron as well. And he will continue to cover both events as the week progresses.
He has already talked with Marshall Plumlee, Shabazz Muhammad, Kaleb Tarczewski and Troy Murphy, so interviews are coming. So if you want to hear about the throng of the nation’s finest coaches are watching or the circus atmosphere surrounding LeBron James, check out our trial offer which lasts just a few more days or join for the year which is the best bargain. It’s a great time to be a member of BDN Premium.
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Drew, Crean, Dixon, Huggins, Capel, Miller, Self, and plenty of assistants. NE Playaz won convincingly, 68-50. The only one who was consistently able to score for D-One was Deuce. Bello finished with 26. Quincy couldn’t defend Tarczewski and Clifton kept telling their replacement coach to pull him off of him- Adding that it was Quincy and four midgets. Miller finished with 5points, which is, by far, the least I’ve ever seen with him. Murphy, displaying his high bb IQ and improved athleticism and strength, and Tarczewski really closed out well in the second half. Alex Murphy finished with 18 and Kaleb Tarczewski finished with a team-high 19. K and Collins are watching DC Assault take on Franchize All-Stars.
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DURHAM – Sporting his Team USA attire, Quincy Miller highlighted the opening night of the NC Pro Am for Duke fans. Miller had just come back to Durham from San Antonio where the U-18 team had their way with world competition. Miller, of course, is a key Duke recruiting target in the class of 2011 and the versatile prospect showed he was unafraid to go up against the older guys scoring 14 points in a single half of play due to his late arrival.
Because he was late to the event, the promoter allowed Miller to play for one more half with another team as a fill in and he tallied 10 points in that game. Miller went up against future UNC player P.J. Hairston. In fact, his severely undermanned team faced what was essentially a Carolina All Star team that consisted of Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Jon Henson and others. But with Hairston, the battle got a bit heated. The two went head to head late in the game and despite surely being tired from jet lag, Miller outscored the offensive minded Hairston 14-13 in a single half of play, meaning, how many would Miller have scored with full two half’s?
Harrison Barnes was as advertised, calm, cool and collected on the court. Barnes opened the game with two emphatic dunks as his team rolled to an early lead over what appeared to be one of the weakest teams in this years field. Barnes ended the game with 16 points while coasting in the second half.
Reggie Bullock added 10 points and Henson added 8. Also playing on the Tar Heel laden Team Stackhouse was Miller’s high school and AAU teammate Deuce Bello who had a game high 18 points and showed off his athletic skill set. Team Stackhouse won easily by a 81-60 margin.
In an earlier game, the youthful prospect Rodney Purvis scored 16 points while wowing the crowd with his abilities. Purvis is just a rising sophomore in high school.
N.C. Sate fans turned out in droves as well, but Ryan Harrow and Lorenzon Brown were no-shows. C.J. Leslie did play though and he tallied 16 points to go with his teammate Tracy Smith 14.
The NBA’s number one draft pick, John Wall, was also in attendance and his presence alone made some in the crowd a bit giddy. Wall was seen talking to former UNC standout Jerry Stackhouse for most of the evening.
All of the Duke players were no shows due to the break at school and or Nike skills academy camps. The Blue Devils will start to appear next week where the games are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
NOTES – There was a very solid opening night crowd despite what was a parking mess due to construction on the N.C. Central Campus. Expect a nice walk to the event if you are able to attend. Admission is a bargain in that it is free. BDN Premium has an article on Quincy Miller due shortly where we get the latest from the prospect. So, stay tuned to BDN whose history of covering the event is well known.
Two future Duke Blue Devils were named to the Team USA U-18 roster earlier this afternoon. Duke’s point guard of the future Kryie Irving and Virginia native Josh Hairston were named to the final roster after participating in the trials.
“When I heard my name it was a big relief, just the amount of talent that was out here and to just represent your country was big time. Everybody who came to the tryouts could have been on this team, everybody from the top to the last person on the list was very talented. I think the coaches put together the best 12 guys that meshed together and play well together so it’s an honor to be a part of that,” said Hairston.
Hairston, who was not too happy when his name was not called out for the McDonald’s All American and Jordan Brand All Star games, went into the trials with something to prove.
“I wanted to show the coaches I could rebound, that I could talk on defense, that I could run the floor and that I could be a leader. One of the things my dad told me before I came out here was to just go out there and work my hardest and that’s what I did,” stated the future Dukie.
Kyrie Irving a will share the point guard duties with Abdul Gaddy and the experience should provide him with some great experience. “We’ve been working hard for about two-and-a-half days so coming out here and performing the way I did, I’m really proud of myself and all the guys that made it. We have a very talented team and we’re going for the gold.” said Irving.
Irving also mentioned that he was the youngest player on the court. “That’s going to be primary role next year is to be a leader on that team along with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, so just being a leader and being a point guard.
It will definitely help me. I’m the youngest player here; I’m playing with an older group. These are great players, competitive players, and it’s going to help me take my game to a whole another level.”
Three Duke prospects also made the final roster. Duke is all over Austin Rivers who made the team and is considered by many as a strong Duke lean. When asked what he brought to the table, Rivers stated,” I would say I bring leadership as someone you can count on in a game. Whatever you need me to do, I can do it. If you need me to score, I can score. If you need me to try to get someone the ball, I can get someone the ball. I’d say a little bit of everything. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it.”
Quincy Miller of Quality Academy in Winston Salem and Detroit standout Amir Williams will join the future Dukies and Rivers on the team.
It’s a privilege to be named to the USA team. This is a great experience, a great time for me to go out and represent my country. It’s going to be a wonderful experience for me to play for this team, said Miller who list Duke and Kentucky on his list of schools.
BDN will follow Team USA closely in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more as the team prepares for play.
BDN takes a look at how things are going on the recruiting front in our latest detailed update. If you want to know who the Blue Devils are seriously interested in and their likely strategy, read on. Join BDN Premium for full site access and be there every step of the way as we cover every major AAU event as warm weather rolls in. At BDN, we focus in on the players you want to hear about by concentrating only
A lot of talk surrounds Austin Rivers these days, [private] but nothing has really changed. Duke expects to sign Rivers by the end of summer but as I have stated numerous times, the decision could come sooner and maybe, just maybe, even later. The bottom line is that Duke has a significant lead and that has been the case throughout the threads which total 50,000 views collectively where people hang on every little blip on the radar. My suggestion is to sit back and relax and allow this to happen for it is on pace. The Rivers camp will not make any kind of move until the NBA playoffs are over and that could be in July if they keep winning.
Duke recently reached out to Anthony Davis, a top notch prospect from Chicago, Krzyzewski’s old stomping grounds. They will be taking a good long look at him once they are allowed to take in events. Andrew and myself will be sure to keep a eye out for him as we get to know him better together. With a busy AAU tournament schedule coming up, we see no reason in calling him before we see him play.
The Duke staff will also continue to evaluate players they’ve developed early relationships with. Among those will be QuincyMiller, Marshall Plumlee and Amir Williams. The Blue Devils will be looking at other players as well to see who emerge as the humid days of summer give way to September.
One of the questions I often get is how may players does Duke look to sign in 2011. The answer is that number could vary from three to five. Duke is happy having steady swingman Michael Gbinije and ever improving Tyler Adams in the fold and they of course want Austin Rivers as well. The fourth and fifth guys would come into play of Duke experiences a mass exodus to the NBA. That is a pretty good possibility for Mason Plumlee and Kyrie Irving could join Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith in the first round. If Duke somehow defends the title this is almost certain to happen but we all know how hard that is. Regardless, Duke will have a target on on their backs again in that they are the likely pre season number one team in the country. Duke will only sign a guard in 2011 if Irving or Curry leave.
The great thing about winning the national championship is that Duke can once again be selective and with another banner season seemingly coming, the Blue Devils will remain hot and in the spotlight. That means they’ll take their time with a bevy of names that will grow in the coming months. We told you last summer that Duke assistants loved Alex Murphy’s game and he is a hot name at the moment, but Coach K needs to check out his game. Shabazz Muhammad has impressed them immensely. It helps that the Team USA training facility is where Duke can keep a close eye on the talented Vegas native. While some would have you think J.P. Tokoto is already a Tar Heel, Duke is not buying that just yet and they are still involved withthe athletic prospect. Amile Jefferson, who Andrew interviewed just last week is also an early name on the radar. Again, there are other names that will come to light some of which you already know of and others who will be new when Duke can get their views in July an open period for events. Duke is not rushing the process with any of the above mentioned names at this time.
I was waiting for some new info but it has been delayed so I’ll add an addendum later. [/private]
Tom Konchalski, the publisher and editor of High School Basketball Illustrated, has been covering high school basketball for more than thirty-five years. The 6’6″ sexagenarian, with an eidetic memory, is a McDonald’s All-American voter and a ubiquitous presence on the summer AAU circuit. He generously spoke with Blue Devil Nation recently about one dozen Duke recruits and verbal commitments in the 2011 and 2012 classes.
Amile Jefferson: He has an extremely mature feel for the game for a guy who’s only a sophomore. He’s very young physically, but, in terms of his understanding of the game, he’s a veteran, wise beyond his years. He’s got to get stronger, not only upper-body wise, but also his legs as well. He’s very efficient and he’s always around the ball. The ball always manages to find him. He’s got good hands. He’s a very good finisher inside. He’s got a very good drop-step, can reverse around the basket, things like that. He can put the ball on the floor and he can pass. He’s not a consistent outside shooter. He doesn’t have the leg strength right now to get his legs into it. Down the road, I think he’ll be a perimeter forward. He’s a guy who has a terrific understanding of the game. He plays to the situation. He doesn’t try to showcase his skills set. He does whatever the situation requires. I don’t think he’ll be a step-out four. I think he’ll be a three. as his legs get stronger, he’ll be able to guard away from the basket very easily. He’s got to shoot the ball away from the basket more consistently, but I think he’ll be a three.
Tyler Adams: The [private] only time I’ve seen him since last July at the Reebok All-American Camp and the Peach Jam with the Jackson Tigers was recently at the Boo Williams. I don’t know if his skills have improved that much or…, um, he’s a very nice kid. He’s a good teammate. He has a big-time body. He has an SEC football body, forget about an ACC basketball body. Really, this year, just like last year…in the class of 2011, just like the class of 2010, there just aren’t a lot of great big guys in the class. I’ll tell you what he’s got a good attitude and he’ll work hard. I think he’ll be extremely coachable. He’s not a guy who’s going to go in thinking he’s going to be the main guy. I think he can be a contributor. He’s a guy who comes in without a lot of offense and he’s a big, strong kid. That’s what I think, in the past, Duke has lacked. Brian Zoubek gave them that this year. The Plumlees will hopefully give them that next year. A wise old coach once said that you can never have too many big men. I think he’s about 6’8″ or 6’9″ right now.
Shabazz Muhammad: I haven’t been able to see him in a while because he was injured and wasn’t able to play in the Beach Ball Classic. What I remember is that he was extremely active. He had a good motor and really played every possession. He pursued relentlessly loose balls and offensive rebounds. He’s a left-hander, which screws people up defensively. He didn’t have a lot of range to his game. He was like a 6’4″ small forward at the time. I’d like to see to what degree he has developed his skill set, but, to be a really effective college player, he’s really got to expand his offensive skill set and take his game at least a little bit further away from the basket. Then again, I haven’t seen him recently, but, hopefully, I’ll be able to see him again at the Bob Gibbons tournament. He played for Dream Vision last year. They won the tournament and he was the MVP. He’s a guy who plays extremely hard. There’s a lot of quickness to his game and he’s just so active. He’s got to be able to score from outside against defenses. He’s got to be able to start his drives towards the basket a little further from the basket. He has a tendency to get the ball either at the short baseline or at the high post and just slice to the basket. He’s got to put a change of direction to his game and be a little more careful with the ball. I can say this, as a left-hander myself, he’s got to improve his right-hand a little bit and definitely improve his change of direction. There’s a slightly broken feel to his game. He’s got to move his game away from the basket. He’s a wing right now and, hopefully, in time, he’ll develop the skills to be a guard.
Austin Rivers: Well, first of all, there’s no one in high school basketball who has a better skill set, regardless of position. He’s great playing off of the dribble. He can get to the basket. Because he has been parented and coached by a former pro and a current NBA coach, he has a lot of the tricks of the trade. He’s spent intensive time developing his point guard skills at the Steve Nash Skills Camp as well as the Deron Williams Skills Camp. He has a lot of Steve Nash’s unorthodox skills. He drives to the basket and takes what I call a half-volley shot, where he takes a half-volley layup in the lane off of the wrong foot to throw off or stay a step ahead of the defenses. In spite of the fact that his left thumb affects his shot far too much..to the point where he almost shoots a two-handed jump shot, just by repetition, he’s made himself into a lethal three point shooter. Somewhat streaky, but he’s a lethal three-point shooter when he gets into a groove. When I first saw him, as a ninth grader, I thought he made his teammates better. I thought he saw the court really well and made his teammates better. I think he’s gotten a little caught up recently with playing one-on-one. I think he looks for his offense too much. A player who is highly touted always in the back of his mind wants to be the number one player in his class and he’s absolutely a contender to be that, but I think because of that he’s tried to change his game. At the next level, he’s got to change it back and return to making plays for others, instead of only for himself. In the event that he and Kyrie play together, I think they’ll share the ball and whoever gets the ball will just take it up and initiate the offense. Duke has played that way in the past and quite well.
Alex Murphy: I haven’t seen him since we saw him together. I was in Providence last week and hoped to see him there, but his team was upset by the Granite State Jayhawks, who are really no great shakes. I can tell you that people are saying that he’s playing very well and he’s got a lot of personality. He’s much more extroverted than Erik was. I think he can be a really good player. I think he needs to get stronger, but I think that’s sort of a family trait. The three boys are all very tall and the youngest one, Tomas, who’s in fifth grade, Jay says is going to be the tallest one. The mother played in Scandinavia. She’s a big-boned woman, but the boys really take after the father. Jay has gotten thick now, but he was pretty skinny coming out of high school and when he entered Boston College. Alex is about 6’8″ right now. I’d say 6’8.”
Quincy Miller: I saw him twice at Boo Williams and both times they got blown out. The first game I saw them against the Drew Gooden Soldiers and they were down 46-16 at the half. In the next game, they played the Saint Louis Eagles and they ended up losing 98-60. He isn’t playing with a great team. He’s 6’8 1/2 “, although they often list him at 6’10.” He is skilled and has a predilection for playing on the perimeter. He can shoot the three, but he tries too much to be a perimeter player. In the past, and this is a function of his lack of strength, but he’s taken a lot of plays off. he’s got to learn to play with more intensity. He is 6’8 1/2″ to 6’9″ and he’s got to learn to use his body. His body should be a weapon in his arsenal. He can’t be or play in denial of his height. There are plenty of players who would give their eye teeth for his height. He’s got a great deal of skill, very mobile, very good in the open court. He can shoot the three, handle the ball a bit, but he’s got to bulk up a bit. More than anything else, though, he’s got to calcify his nose and get tougher. He’s got to learn to play 6’9″ and do the dirty stuff inside. He’s transferring to Westchester. I won’t be going to Houston or LA, but, given their performance at Boo Williams, they’re unlikely to qualify for the Peach Jam. That said, Quincy will definitely be picked up by one of the good squads and I hope to see him there with an improved squad. He’ll definitely be playing at the Peach Jam, but I don’t think it will be with D-One Sports. Someone will definitely pick him up.
L.J. Rose: I saw J-Mychal Reese and him last year for the first time and, although Reese came in with a bigger reputation, I thought Rose outplayed him at the event. I then saw him at the Boo Williams twice, but, at this point, I have to say that I really don’t have a clear feel for him. I couldn’t tell you much about him.
J.P. Tokoto: A tremendous athlete. He has so much natural athleticism. He can handle the ball. He’s got to shoot the ball more consistently. He’s great going to the basket. He can make plays. He can really pass the ball. He’s big enough. He can rebound. I think he has to add a little more toughness to himself, but I think he’s going to be really, really good. He’s a big wing player with skill, but he’s got to become a more consistent outside shooter. He can really handle the ball. He has skill and athleticism and that’s a lethal combination. He can be really, really good. The guy who brought him to Duke’s attention is a guy by the name of Dave Cooks, who is in a wheelchair. I don’t know if he was in an accident. I’ve known him for about fifteen years and he coaches Marquette high school in Milwaukee. He always works the Duke camp. Tokoto said that he’s going to spend this summer working on his shot and I think he has to. Right now, his strength is driving to the basket and making plays off of the dribble. He has the size and can rebound. He has quickness, but he’s got to get stronger. He has a nice frame. I’d rather see a young kid with a body like that than, well, someone who looks likes he’s topped out. He’s listed at 6’6.” He’s probably 6’5,” maybe 6’5 1/2.” He’s going to be a heck of a player.
Amir Williams: I saw him at the Peach Jam and at Boo Williams. He didn’t make it here. I like him. There are other big guys, who are probably more athletic. He has very good hands. He’s efficient and I think he knows what he is. He’s not a perimeter wannabe. He makes simple plays and is a good finisher inside. Ben Franklin said more than two hundred years ago “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” That’s the first step on the road to success. Know what you are. I think he realizes that he’s 6’10” or 6’11.” His skill set has got to be tailored to interior play. That’s why I think he’s going to be an effective player. He goes to a very good school. He’s a smart kid. Hopefully, there is some transferal from off of the court to on the court or vise versa. I think he’ll be very good.
Michael Gbinije: Gbinije is a good player, very skilled perimeter player. There are some guys who are more explosive, but he has very good skills and size. He plays within the flow of the game and generally lets the game come to him. He plays with a very good AAU team and a good high school team, Benedictine, and so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. It’s not as if he has to be a volume shooter for the teams to be successful. I think he will be a very good player for them.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Well, he’s young. He’s a sophomore. He should be thinking about preparing for his junior year and not whether Duke will be recruiting him. He should be thinking about getting good enough to play at Duke. He’s good. He’s about 6’3″ and he’s strong. He’s a player who has a toughness to him and a strength. He plays for a good program and a good coach and he’s won a championship. All else being equal, coaches like to recruit players from winning programs because they know about sacrificing and usually it’s important for them to win. A kid who has never won sometimes raises a red flag that the young man may care more about individual success than team success. He’s a tough kid, that plays hard, and comes from a winning program. He’s got to get a little more quickness and develop into more of a perimeter player. He’s listed as a 6’4″ wing now that is strong enough now to play inside, but he’s got to be able to guard outside. If he ever wants to be a guard, he’s got to get a lot quicker. I know he’s said about waiting to play some point, but I think he ought to forget about it because I don’t think he’ll ever develop that level of quickness to be able to take players off of the dribble or withstand pressure. I don’t think there’s a lot of growth left in him. I think he’s about 6’3″ right now.
Anthony Davis: He hasn’t played AAU ball since the eighth grade. I’ve known Loren Jackson for a long time and Loren’s father and son. He told me about Anthony and then I read more about him in a profile, while I was waiting at O’Hare to fly here. There are two major leagues in the Chicago Public League: the Red, which is stronger, and the Blue, which is the weak one. If you finish in last place in the Red, you’re demoted to the Blue. Well, Anthony has played for Perspectives high school, which plays in the Blue-West. There have been a lot of schools that have wanted him to transfer, but he’s stayed at Perspectives and remained loyal to his school and coaches, who he likes. He’s been going there since the sixth grade and just liked it there. He’s got great grades there. He looks like a tremendous prospect. I think he’s more of a four than a five, although he has to add some strength. He’s got a nice jump hook, can drop-step, and he can finish on either block. He has good feet. He has great hands. He has good energy and instincts. He can block shots and gets into the passing lanes and adds pressure. He can put the ball in the basket and can hit the three, like he did today again in the semifinal against Indiana Elite. You mentioned he hit two in the game before that. I think he can be very, very good. Here’s a guy who obviously hasn’t played nearly as much basketball as some of his peers, who have played AAU ball or against nearly the same level of competition. AAU ball can supplement high school competition. He’s grown so much over the past year, but, right now, I would recruit him more as a four than a five. He seems like a very coachable kid. Loren Jackson told me he’s been a great kid to deal with and Davis listens. [/private]