Due on newsstands across America this week will be the glossy pre-season college basketball magazines, the publication of which means that the start of practice is not far away.
We've learned that the Duke Men's Basketball team will be ranked 4th in the nation by the Sporting News, which has Kentucky in the top spot. IN addition to the Blue Devils, the ACC is represented in the top ten by Syracuse and North Carolina.
The Duke Women are ranked second in all the land, just behind UConn. Blue Devils Elizabeth Williams and Chelsea Gray will be named to their ten player first team All-American squad.
On the men's side, the pre-season All-American teams consist of five players each, and the interesting thing is that neither of the two Blue Devils who made the teams have ever dribbled a ball in a Duke uniform in an actual game. This is certainly consistent with the trend in selecting these types of teams these days, where the choices often seem to be based more on potential than actual performance.
Jabari Parker was selected pre-season First Team All-American. He is perhaps the first true freshman at Duke to earn such pre-season honors. Parker, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school player, is no stranger to this kind of hype. Parker is also predicted to be the top player in the ACC.
Joining Parker as an All-American selection is redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, who is picked to the magazine's Third Team. Hood, a rare transfer to Duke from Mississippi State, sat out a season ago per NCAA transfer rules, but has garnered high praise since arriving in Durham, and consequently now has high expectations.
Rasheed Sulaimon, who seems like a veteran on the Blue Devils squad even though he's just a sophomore, was selected High Honorable Mention and if you ask me, he'll be right there for honors higher than that by season's end.
In the projected standings, the Blue Devils are picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, followed by Syracuse and North Carolina.
In full, the predicted ACC standings are as follows:
3- North Carolina
4- Notre Dame
8- Boston College
9- Florida State
The Sporting News merged with old school legend Street and Smith's. The magazine doesn't have a lot of meat to it anymore, which is disappointing given its history. For instance, it doesn't even include the teams' schedules anymore. But it is the first glossy magazine to hit the stands. The Triangle area cover will feature a UNC and an N.C. State player.
Practice for Duke starts in mid-October and Countdown to Craziness kicks off the season on October 18th at 8:00 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils will then play their first exhibition game against Bowie State on October 26th and open the regular season against the Davidson Wildcats on November 8th.
The Blue Devils will then travel to Chicago to meet Kansas, ranked #7 in The Sporting News preview magazine. There the top two incoming freshman in the nation, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins -- both pre-season All-Americans on the TSN teams -- go head-to-head in the Champions Classic.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke’s Rodney Hood, one of 16 finalists for the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team, ended his participation in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team training camp Friday due to an injury to his right achilles. Hood suffered the injury during an evening practice Wednesday, June 26.
“I feel so sorry for Rodney,” said USA head coach Bob McKillop. “He committed himself fully to be a part of this team, and we will miss him. He would have been a valuable team member for USA Basketball.”
Hood earned his finalists spot on June 26, after beginning training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., as one of 26 players on June 24. Hood sat out last season after transferring to Duke from Mississippi State. The Meridian, Miss., native averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebound and 2.0 assists per game while earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors in his lone season in Starkville.
The USA’s camp will continue through June 30, and the 12-member roster will be announced prior to the team’s departure for Russia on July 1. The 2013 World University Games (WUGs) men’s basketball competition will be played July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia.
Contending for one of 12-roster spots are: Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado); Yogi Ferrell (Indiana); Davante Gardner (Marquette); Treveon Graham (Virginia Commonwealth); Jerian Grant (Notre Dame); Luke Hancock (Louisville); Tyler Haws (BYU); Cory Jefferson (Baylor); Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati); Alex Kirk (New Mexico); Doug McDermott (Creighton); Adreian Payne (Michigan State); Chasson Randle (Stanford); Will Sheehey (Indiana); and Aaron White (Iowa).
After departing for Russia on July 1, the USA will practice on July 3-6 in Kazan, Russia, including scrimmages on July 4 against Russian basketball club UNICS and on July 5 against the Russia World University Games Team before beginning World University Games play on July 7.
The USA has drawn preliminary round Group C for the 2013 World University Games men’s basketball competition, along with Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden and United Arab Emirates. Playing in Group A are Estonia, Germany, Oman, Russia, Ukraine and South Korea. Playing in Group B are Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania and Serbia. Group D includes Brazil, Chile, China, Finland, Lithuania and Norway.
The USA will take on UAE at 6:30 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia, is +8 hours from EDT) on July 7; followed by Czech Republic at 1 p.m. on July 8; and Sweden at 9 p.m. on July 10; Australia at 6:30 p.m. on July 11; and Canada at 1 p.m. on July 12.
Following the preliminary round, the first- and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 14 to compete for first through eighth places; while the remaining teams will play out for ninth to 24th places. The semifinals will be played on July 15, and the finals will be contested on July 16.
World University Games
The United States has claimed 19 medals in the World University Games since beginning play in 1965, and has captured a record 13 golds, three silvers and three bronze medals in the 20 WUGs in which a USA Basketball men’s squad has competed. The USA men own a stellar 138-9 record in WUGs play, and the U.S. captured six of the first seven gold medals awarded in the WUGs basketball competition, including six consecutive gold medals from 1989 through 1999. In 2001 the USA fell to host China, which featured half of its 2000 Olympic team, including Yao Ming, Menk Bateer and Wang ZhiZhi, by a single point in the semifinal and finished with the bronze. The USA again captured the gold medal in 2005 and most recently, finished in fifth place with a 7-1 record after falling to Lithuania 76-74 in the 2011 quarterfinals.
With so much going on in the world of Duke athletics these days , BDN can get backed up with material. Case in point: here are two videos with Duke newcomers Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood that had been left on the cutting room floor . Jefferson proved to be quite competitive during the N.C. Pro-Am, where his team fell just short of the championship. Hood admits to missing Granny's cooking (and who wouldn't?) but said he's adjusting and enjoying being in Durham. Check them both out:
Blue Devil Nation was the first to have an exclusive one on one interview with Rodney Hood after he transferred to Duke from Mississippi State. This interview ran for our BDN Premium members in early July and we are now opening the article up for the public to give you an idea of the articles you will find in our extended subscription service. Enjoy getting to Rodney Hood -
In early April, Rodney Hood announced he would transfer from Mississippi State after his freshman season. It was a tumultuous year, one in which Hood, along with recent NBA lottery picks Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Brad Beal, earned SEC All-Freshman honors, but which also ended with his Bulldogs getting knocked out by UMass in the opening round of the NIT.
With Hood looking for a fresh start, Duke, a program that had recruited the former McDonald's All-American in high school, quickly rose to the top of his new list. In early June, the Meridien, Mississippi native made the journey up to Durham to visit Duke and to meet face-to-face with the coaches. Basketball was the one constant throughout the visit, as Rodney enjoyed hanging with his prospective teammates -- eating, talking, and of course playing ball. Hood also was impressed by the refreshing candidness of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who watched Hood's game footage at Mississippi State with him. He pointed out things that they could work to improve upon, and also reviewed footage of Grant Hill playing at Duke. The freedom that Grant Hill played with while at Duke certainly appealed to the 6'8" 204 lb Hood.
After narrowing his list down to Ohio State and Duke, Rodney chose to be a Blue Devil. On Wednesday, he officially moved in, and will be roommates with sophomore point guard Quinn Cook. Hood and Cook, a born salesman, talked throughout the recruiting process and have built a relationship. Hood, a good student in high school, has enrolled in classes in Psychology and Advertising during this second summer session at Duke.
Along with Duke rising seniors Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, Rodney is one of the select college players invited by Nike to its prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy this weekend. The left-handed wing player shot the basketball very well in the opening session, impressing several NBA scouts with his mix of size, skill, and versatility.
In his first interivew since enrolling at Duke, Hood spoke exclusively with me about a variety of topics, including a NCAA Championship run, improving his body in this coming year, what he will bring to the Duke program, being a competitive teammate, and unpacking his bags.
We’ll get into why you chose Duke in a second, but why don’t we start off with your reasons for transferring? Your dad had mentioned in an article that this wasn’t a last-second decision, that you had thought about this for a few months.
Yeah, it was just a situation where we had a coaching change and there were a lot of changes throughout the program, so I decided to look elsewhere. It was just a personal decision and that’s what I decided to do.
What were your reasons for choosing Duke?
You know, it’s just a high level of basketball. Coach K is evidently the best coach in basketball. It also gets me out of my comfort zone. We are going to have a chance to compete for a National Championship.
I’d like to talk to you about that in a moment, but one of the things that I saw that you had mentioned that you liked in your meeting with Coach K was that he talked about specifics. What did he envision for you?
He just envisioned me being one of the best players in the country on one of the best teams and being able to play there. He was very honest with me. We watched tape and he was honest about my game.
He watched tape with or of you at Mississippi State?
Yes, and he told me what I needed to work on and, for me, there were just a lot of little things that I didn’t know about myself and my game.
And so it was great.
Out of curiosity, did he compare you to any players? I know that sometimes he does that. I remember, for instance, him talking with Kyle Singler about that.
Well, we watched a little of Grant Hill’s tape.
Well, you’re around the same height.
Yeah, we’re kinda the same build, but we’re different kind of players. But the freedom that he gave Grant Hill back in the day, he said he would put me in those sort of situations.
That’s also interesting.
Did you know any of the guys on the team beforehand? Guys like Quinn?
Oh, yeah, I’ve been on campus already since Wednesday. I room with Quinn and we talked throughout the whole recruiting process. I also talked a lot with Rasheed and Amile and all of those guys.
Well, they’re all very nice.
Oh, yeah, definitely.
What did Coach K say that he would like to work with you on in the next year?
More than anything, my body.
Yeah, not just really adding weight, but adding a whole lot of strength. Just falling in love with being in shape.
Yeah, I think if you just got a little more developed in the upper body and keep working on your ball skills, you’d be pretty unstoppable at this level.
Yeah, that’s what we talked about. We talked about falling in love with being in shape. You know, if you can get into shape, you can do a lot more things and it just elevates your game..stuff like that. Oh, and obviously skill work, but more just about getting my body in shape.
Now for you is it more about strength or conditioning or, frankly, both?
Yeah, it’s really both, really. You know, KD, Kevin Durant, he runs all of the time, and he’s not the strongest guy, but he’s effective because he’s mobile and he runs. But you know, I have to add strength to be the type of player that I want to become.
I’ve been watching you a lot in the last two days, and it looks like you make a conscious effort to try to get open. Yesterday, you shot the ball really well, but you're constantly moving without the ball here.
Yeah, yeah, a lot of it’s just repetition, just staying in the gym. Just focusing on getting better.
For fans who may not have seen you play at Mississippi State or in high school, what are you going to bring to the program? There are a lot of fans that are excited about you coming.
I’m a player that can play on both ends of the court. You know, gets out there on defense, and offensively I’m very versatile. I can make plays, I can shoot the basketball, I can post-up.
You knocked down fifty three-pointers.
Yeah, I can do a lot of stuff. I’m just excited to get in there and try to win a National Championship. It’s one of my goals.
As a lefty, what advantages do you have?
You know, there are a lot of advantages. Guys are not used to going against lefties. That’s why Ginobili and guys like that, Zach Randolph, guys are not used to guarding them every single day. I think it gives you an advantage.
Also, as a shot-blocker, you’re facing a lot of righties and you have a natural advantage of being able to block their shot with your left hand.
Yeah, it’s very easy to contest a right-hander’s shot.
What would you say is your go-to move, for fans who haven’t seen you play?
I’d say my go-to move, well, I like to do a lot of jab series. That’s basically my go-to move -- I like to jab.
Where do you like to shoot the ball? It seemed like yesterday it was, like a lot of players, dead center.
Well, pretty much everywhere, but mainly dead center in the middle of the court. I try to get open spaces.
Then today you tried to work on the wing and down along the baseline.
Yeah, I was trying to work on that.
In terms of strength and conditioning, what do you currently weigh and what are you hoping to do in terms of your body?
Well, right now, I’m 204.
Are you 6’8” or about there?
Yeah, I’m 6’8.” Definitely, I'm 6’8.”
Well, what are you hoping to get to?
I want to get to about 212 at least of muscle. I’m not a guy that wants to get real bulky and I’m never going to be that type of guy, but as long as I keep getting strength, I’ll be fine.
You want to add that lean muscle.
Is there a guy you tried to model your game after, when you were growing up?
I love Penny. Penny Hardaway.
He’s another 6’8,” 6’9” guy that was skilled.
Yeah, I watched him play a lot and just tried to model my game after him. The way he makes plays and made his team better.
Do you think that you’re a pretty good passer?
I am. I can make a lot of passes. I can see over the defense a lot. Just like in football, where guys, well, quarterbacks can see over the defense. I can help find the open man.
Yeah, it’s such an advantage if you can. Can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself? A little bit about your background. I know you’re from Meridian and your dad played ball.
Yeah, I’m from Mississippi, born and raised. I love it there, but I also love to have fun. I’m a regular kid. I’m not going to get in no trouble..on purpose. You know, nobody’s perfect, but I just love to have fun.
You’re not going to be a knucklehead off the court, right?
What about your family?
Yeah, my mom and my dad both played ball, my brother and sister both played ball on the Division I level. My dad played pro overseas.
Are you the youngest?
Yeah, I’m the youngest, so it’s good having that knowledge in front of you.
It probably helps a lot, coming from a basketball family.
What are you hoping to accomplish at the skills academy?
Just getting better by playing against the best wing players and the best players in the country. Just getting better every single time you step on the court.
Can you recap the visit to Duke?
It was mostly just basketball, really. You know, we talked basketball almost the entire time. We ate, we talked basketball. We played, we talked basketball. We talked basketball afterwards. That was pretty much it. (laughs) I liked it.
You mentioned before that you're looking to make a title run in 2014. You guys might be stacked.
Yeah, definitely, we’re going to be pretty good. You know, in that year, we’re going to be pretty good. I’m just anxious, you know, the freshmen that are coming in now are going to develop and we’ve got some guys that will come in next year.
It sounds like recruiting’s going pretty well.
That’s what I hear. I think we’re also going to be pretty versatile as far as defense and, well, offensively, too. It’s going to be pretty exciting.
What’s your schedule for the rest of the summer?
I’m going to be at summer school at Duke.
The second session?
Yeah, I may be at a couple of more camps, but I’m not sure yet.
Since you just mentioned it, defensively, what are you going to do for the program?
I’m just a guy that can get out there and guard your 1, 2, or 3, and at the college level, even a 4.
That’s impressive versatility on defense.
Yeah, it is.
On the AAU level, I always thought that you were a really good teammate.
Yeah, I just love to compete. I think I bring the best out of my teammates, you know, challenging them every single day and, well, they’re challenging me too.
It’ll be great in practice this year.
Yeah, it will.
What about your major? Have you thought about that at all?
No, not really.
Well, it’s still early for you.
I’m taking an advertising and psychology class right now for summer.
I remember you were a good high school student.
Yeah, I was.
What are you interested in doing when you stop playing? Have you thought about that at all?
Well, I still want to be involved in basketball.
Coaching or announcing?
I don’t know about coaching. There’s a lot of personalities (laughs), but we’ll see.
Did you have a favorite team growing up?
You mean NBA team?
No, not really.
I didn’t know, growing up in Mississippi, which direction you would be looking.
Yeah, I didn’t really have a team.
One person had told my privately that they thought you were really disciplined growing up. Is that true?
Yeah, my high school coach really instilled in me discipline, you know, on and off the court. You know, doing the little things can help you go a long way. It’s been paying off so far. I just got to keep focussing on doing the little things.
What do you like to do for fun off the court?
Play video games, card games, just regular card games. (laughs)
Have you had an opportunity to see any USA Basketball this weekend? Will you get to?
No, but I think we're going to go see them tomorrow. I’m very excited to see them.
You’re obviously a very good shooter. How are you trying to develop that?
Just repetition. You know, as a shooter, I’m just always trying to add repetition.
In one of the articles I read for preparation, one of your ex-teammates said you might be a one-and-done.
I never said that.
It was your ex-teammate, Moultrie, who said it.
Oh, no, it’s however long it takes to be ready. I never think of it that way.
With the summer heat upon us, many are vacationing at favorite destinations or kicking back in their air-conditioned homes, trying to stay cool. But if you are a Duke fan, it's hard to relax for too long without turning on your computer or smart phone for the latest updates. When you have a basketball program like Duke to follow, things are always hot, and this summer has been a constant sizzle.
Viva Las Vegas
Along with assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, Duke Head Coach Mike Krzzyewski is hard at work in the dry Vegas heat, and they've settled on who will represent Team USA in the fast approaching Summer Olympics in London, England. In case you missed it, here is the roster that was announced over the weekend. While there is an admitted shortage at the center spot, this team is athletic, long, and quick. While there are a number of high-profile players unavailable due to injury or other reasons, Coach K has nevertheless assembled a team of men who badly want to represent the Red, White and Blue, and that is extremely important. BDN's Andrew Slater is on the scene in Las Vegas bringing you the latest; he will pay a visit to camp tomorrow and will provide his insights for members of BDN Premium, our extended subscription service.
USA U-17 dominates
The U-17 team representing our country rolled past all its competition in a display which truly reflected what teams can do when they play together. Of all the American international teams in the past decade that I've personally seen, this team had perhaps the best chemistry. No less than five players on the team have caught Duke's recruiting interest, including PG sensation Tyus Jones. The kid will not wow you with his athleticism or with his frame. But this stat sheet stuffer always gets it done on the court while playing with a cool beyond his years. Jabari Parker also returned from an injury to help Team USA cruise to an easy win, and Jahlil Okafor was named MVP of the event after the team walloped Australia 95-62 yesterday to win the gold medal. For more on Team USA's U-17 victory, go here.
Speaking of recruiting interest
BDN Basketball Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater is battling the Vegas heat to cover the Lebron James Skills Academy, which is just loaded with prospects. Julius Randle tops the list of interest for Blue Devil fans, but there are many more kids showing off their skill sets in front of the nation's top NBA and college scouts, in an event that winds down today. Among the players who have the Blue Devils' interest are SF Semi Ojeleye, who told Slater his list would soon be trimmed to a more manageable number. We are also taking another look at Marcus Lee, Andrew Wiggins, Austin Nichols, and the already committed Matt Jones. Live reports from Vegas are on our Premium Message Board (for BDN Premium members) and more interviews are on the way. As always, BDN pays close attention to the national recruiting scene as well, and we'll be sharing all the latest we've gathered from our extended network of sources.
For Duke fans, the Lebron James Skills Academy has been a debut of sorts for recent Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. The sleek 6'8" newcomer has been impressive. He gave Slater a wonderful in-depth interview, in which he shed light on many issues, including the one-and-done rumors that circulated after a former Mississippi State teammate's comments suggested the possibility. Want to learn all the latest on Hood? Join BDN Premium and you will get just that, with this detailed and informative interview. Here is the Welcome to the Hood piece from Slater.
Other Dukies shining in Vegas as well
Duke got a major shot in the arm when Mason Plumlee decided to return for his senior season, and the big man has been working all summer long on his game. Plumlee seems more focussed, and we have the latest reports from firsthand views of him going up against the nation's best in Las Vegas. And then there is Ryan Kelly, who has been working just as hard as Mason; we will unveil a revealing interview with the rising senior captain later this week.
N.C. Pro-Am starts back on Tuesday
The Pro-Am will kick back into gear this week, and several Duke players are expected to play, though it will be hit-and-miss for a bit. With three players in Vegas and others committed elsewhere, it may be the end of this week or even into next week before Duke is represented in a big way. Still, it will be nice for local fans to get a shot at seeing off-season improvements, and BDN will be in the house to bring you all the updates. We have a long relationship with the promoters of this fine event, and we encourage everyone to head over for some serious summertime fun in one of the nation's top events of its kind. Here is a link to the official site.
Alex Murphy to London
If you have read our past reports, you know that redshirt freshman Alex Murphy has been having his way against the competition while playing for the Finnish National team. Murphy has a good sense of humor and always jokes with BDN about our traditional lead-in, "This is .... with Blue Devil Nation." I can tell you firsthand that Murphy is both excited and confident about this coming season, and that gives us reason to feel good right along with him as the summer unfolds and we look forward to Fall.
Austin Nichols invited to Nike Hoops Summit
Okay, so a lot of players are invited here but we thought we would mention that Austin Nichols, a key Duke prospect, has confirmed that he will be in Washington. D.C. for the event. We have a nice interview with Nichols on the way and, for the record, he earned high praise this weekend from our pal Dave Telep, who raved about his skills.
Andrew Wiggins a Kentucky lock?
Not according to our own Andrew Slater, who was told by the ridiculously talented Canadian that he did not understand where those rumors came from, and that he was still wide open. Wiggins also mentioned that the Duke staff had been calling his coaches. Of course, you can learn more by becoming a member of our site.
Less than 100 days
We are under the century mark in the countdown to the start of the college basketball season. Just sayin'.
Kyle Singler dunk impresses
In case you missed the news, former Duke star Kyle Singler is coming back from Spain and will ball with the Detroit Pistions this season. He had one heck of a dunk recently.
More to come
We took a few days off last week recharging the batteries. With renewed energy, BDN will soon be reporting live from a number of basketball recruiting events, and football will start to come into focus as well, with ACC Operation Football kicking off in Greensboro later this month.
In closing, we ask for your continued prayers for injured Duke football player Blair Holliday, who remains in a coma at UNC Hospital after a tragic boating accident. We will let you know of any changes in Blair's status, and hope all continue to send their best wishes and positive thoughts to his family, while respecting their privacy. Thanks.