Tag Archives: Shabazz Muhammad

Recruiting Guru Van Coleman Breaks Down Duke Prospects

Our staff at BDN Premium has now seen Tony Parker (left) and Alex Poythress (right) play in over 16 times, so we can tell you firsthand our opinions. But on this occasion, we bring you a chat with Van Coleman, one of the nation

BDN has established a lot of genuine relationships in that for years, we have been covering the Grassroots Basketball scene live and in person.  The great thing about being an independent site is that we can use a myriad of the nation’s best recruiting gurus, whereas corporate sites are generally limited to those who work within their ranks.  In the past, we’ve talked to the best of the best and this time is no different, as we enlist the help of long time talent guru, Van Coleman. 

Coleman is well respected and established in his field and, like our past guest analysts, he  brings years of experience to the table.  And if you’re looking for the best quality coverage around, BDN Premium is “the” place to be.  Without further ado, here is Varand Khachdouri’s chat with Coleman, as we give you a sample of the kind of work you will find inside BDN Premium, our subscription based service. – Mark Watson

Offering a loud and booming voice, long time scout Van Coleman really hammered home his points to the campers about what it takes to really make it. BDN got a chance to pick the brain of the long time scouting guru. Take a look at what he had to say about some current Duke prospects.

Shabazz Muhammad: He’s a tremendous athlete, a guy who can make plays on both ends of the court. He does it off the dribble and uses his hands on defense. Really has worked very hard on improving his jump shot. That’s one of the reasons why I think he’s right up there for the number one player in the country, because of his consistency of play, and the things that he can do kind of offsets what those big guys and all their athleticism. He really is a guy who can win ball games for people.

Rodney Purvis: He’s a tremendous ball handler, a guy that can score off the dribble, improved his jump shot to the point where it now freezes the defense. It makes him a much more effective player. He can play either guard spot. One of the nice things, like Nolan Smith, he’s a guy that in college becomes a guy who can take that spot over (point guard position) if he has to. He’s a scorer first but he’s a guy who can run the show. One of the top 20-25 kids in the country.

Rasheed Sulaimon:The guy can score! He flat out will put points up. Shoots the three, is a tremendous athlete. At the rim he finishes over big guys. Just a guy that’s going to put a lot of points on the boards for the Blue Devils.

Mitch McGary: One of the big surprises of the spring. He’s really had a tremendous spring. He’s improved his skill set away from the basket and face up. He knocks the jumper down now. He has developed the ability to get that 1-2 dribble drive, something he didn’t have a year ago. That’s really lifted his level to where now he’s in consideration for a top 10 spot by a lot of guys. He has become a McDonalds All American I think with that, that’s been the big change for him. He’s a power guy who can score around the basket, defend, and is smart and understands the game. That makes him a guy that Mike Krzyzewski is going to look at.

Julius Randle - BDN Photo

Tony Parker: A rebounding machine. If you love Kevin Love, you’re going to like Tony Parker. He’s a guy that can absolutely dominate on the glass, and finishes around the basket. I’d like to see his face up game get a bit better but that will come with time. Right now, he is a man on the back boards. No better rebounder maybe in high school basketball.

Alex Poythress: Athletic, long, a guy who’s improved his jumper which has made him a more much affective player. I think he has lifted his stock this spring with a lot of folks. As that shot gets better, the more exciting of a player he’s going to become because when it comes to getting to the rim he’s one of those guys who makes highlights.

Julius Randle: Maybe the most skilled big man in the country as far as how he utilizes those tools. He can handle it, he can go to the middle on the break, he can take you off the dribble, he’s long, and he’s got a great shooting touch from 17ft to the basket. He just does a lot of things. He might be as good an all around big man as there is in the country.

Jabari Parker: Takes off 20 lbs and the comparisons to Paul Pierce really start showing up in a hurry. He’s got great skills, he’s really improved the jump shot, he makes people pay if you back off of him, he can get to the hoop with either hand. He’s a guy that right now I think has risen to challenge Randle for the top spot in that class.

Nerlens Noel: He’s long, he blocks shots. Offensively he’s very very raw. At this point it’s mostly right around the basket. The drop step dunk, those kinds of things. But man can he change the game in the paint with his shot blocking ability, and he can run the floor like he’s 6’5, so he gets up and down and creates opportunities. When the offense comes, he’s going to be a special player.

Theo Pinson is firmly on the Duke radar despite his young age.

Theo Pinson: Well we’re talking about offense, I tell you what, we’re talking about a guy that can score a lot of points in a hurry. I think he’s really improved his ability to take people off the dribble with confidence and finish in the lane. He’s always been a guy that can pop that outside jumper and get people to freeze a little bit. Now he has the dribble drive game to go with it. I think he’s a kid that’s on the rise and is really going to be a tremendous talent for whoever he ends up with.

Brannen Greene: He can put it up from the perimeter, a real long range guy. He really bombs it. He has enough handle though that if you guard him he can get that 1-2 dribble pull up jump shot. A kid that’s on the rise, a lot of people hadn’t seen him a lot until this spring, and I think he’s a kid that could surprise a lot of people with that jumper. You know what, there’s never too good of a shooter.

You can visit Van Coleman here – http://hot100hoops.com/

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One on One with Shabazz Muhammad

Photo - Adidas Nations

With his two current competitors, Andre Drummond and Isaiah Austin, for the top ranking in the 2012 class under the same Compton roof, Shabazz Muhammad set out to show that he was the best prospect in his class. Although 6’11” Drummond manifested a fire that is not always there, Muhammad walked away with the MVP Award at the Pangos All-American Camp. The nearly 6’6″ chiseled, lefty wing violently attacked the rim repeatedly.  Teamed with his brother, Rashad, and best friend, Winston Shepard, Muhammad gave his peers and the elders in attendance a fresh reminder of his consistently high effort and competitiveness.

After winning the Nevada state title during Muhammad’s freshman and sophomore seasons, Grant Rice, the head coach of the Bishop Gorman Gaels in Las Vegas, tried to play a very competitive national schedule. The results were humbling and, ultimately, the Las Vegas powerhouse lost in an upset to Bishop Manogue of Reno, 45-44, in the state semi-finals. For his efforts, however, the junior Muhammad was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Nevada, averaging over twenty-five points and nearly eight rebounds per game. With virtually all of the important cogs, including several high-major prospects, returning for next season, Muhammad and the Gaels will attempt to bring a national title to his Las Vegas Catholic school.

On the AAU circuit, Shabazz Muhammad has helped his DreamVision brethren capture titles at the Easter Classic, the Jayhawk Invitational, and the EBO Classic. For the next month, however, the Muhammad brothers, their dad, Ron Holmes, who played for USC, and Shepard, who now lives with family, will head into the Gorman gym for three hours of intense daily workouts. They’re trying to fine tune their skills and conditioning before the July period, when coaches will be able to evaluate their every game.

Recently, Shabazz Muhammad spoke individually with us about a myriad of topics, including a lingering rumor that he is a UCLA lock, his conversations with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, what fuels his competitiveness, and the effects of last season’s grueling schedule.

How have you played so far this AAU season?

We’re coming out strong. I mean we’re winning a lot of games. Our team is really jelling.

You guys have won the Easter, the Jayhawk, and EBO events.

Yeah, I mean each of those have been really good experiences. We’re facing quality competition at every event, but we’re competing out there and doing a good [private] job.

You’ve made a few new additions.

Yeah, we’ve made a few new additions. Rob (Upshaw) has been big for us. He’s nearly a seven footer and you saw him out here tonight. He can get up and down the floor. He’s been a really good addition for us.

He’s really been one of standouts at the Pango’s event. A massive kid that can bang a bit inside, knocked down a couple of eighteen footers, and can run the court.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. We love to run and he’s been able to keep up with us.

Last summer, you spoke about your high school team was going to play a much more challenging, national schedule. Then, I caught up with you after that tough one at the Hoop Hall Classic in Massachusetts. Looking back, how do you feel now about your schedule? Competitive? Too grueling? 

Oh, no, it was great. We were a young team and just getting after it. Next year, I really think it’s going to help us. We’re kind of a veteran team now. That ESPN game was hopefully helpful for us.
 

What do you have planned for this coming season?

No, nothing yet. We’re just trying to get better, you know, stay in the gym and keep working together.

For those that want to catch you at future events, what do you have coming up?

Yeah, sure, well, we’re basically done for June. So, we’ve got Indianapolis in June, an Adidas tournament in Cincinnati, but we’re going to get back in the gym and make sure everything stays at a high level.

Now, will you be going to Vegas this year again or Orlando?

Oh, yeah, Vegas again.

Now, what are the goals for you individually next season?

Man, I want to be an All-American…a McDonald’s All-American and, for my team, I want us to go undefeated. I think we’re probably going to try to go for the national title. We’re going to try to get that.

Your coach was saying February that, in some ways, going through all of those challenging games was a warmup for next year. It was, sort of, a test run.

Oh, yeah, absolutely, it was. It was a great experience and we’re going to use it and just go from there. We’re going to return a veteran team. We’re going to win a lot of games next year.

What about the addition of Zimmerman? He can give you a little more inside help. I hadn’t seen him play until this weekend.

Oh, yeah, he comes and meets us in the gym everyday. He works hard. He’s a good player. He’s about 6’10” in eighth grade and wears a size twenty shoe so you don’t know really how big he’s going to get. He’s a great talent and, if he keeps getting at it, he’s going to be a really great player.

What about your own work ethic? I know last summer you worked out at Impact Academy. Are you doing that again or heading elsewhere?

Yeah, last summer, I worked at Impact, but this summer I’m working out at my school. I have a key for there. We work out about three hours at the gym, we’re able to lift weights, too.

Mostly in the morning?

Mostly after school, but now in the summer, I’ll probably be getting in two days.

In terms of professional advice, has your sister given you any? I know she’s a professional tennis player.

Oh, yeah, she always says just stay humble and work hard and see how far it takes you.

Is being in that #1 spot an important thing for you or does it not matter so much?

Oh, yeah, I’m gunning for that, but that’ll come if I just keep playing hard, hopefully. I just try not to look at that and just try to think of myself as another guy playing hard who’s just trying to get ranked. If I do that, then that will come.

Can you touch on your effort level? I find that you really bring it every game, especially on offense. I find your effort level is just off the charts.

Oh, yeah, I try to get after it on offense and defense, too.

The first time I saw you, I was amazed at how hard you competed.

Oh, yeah, well, that’s what you got to do to be a great player, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing and hopefully the results will and continue to work hard on offense and defense.

Who are some players that you’re close to nationally?

Winston Shepherd, you’ve seen him play.

Oh, yeah, I always see the two of you together..you two and Rashad.

Yeah, that’s my boy. He’s like my brother. My brother Rashad, Rodney Purvis, and Archie Goodwin. I know a lot of these guys out here are my competitors, but off the court, we’re cool.

Now that you mentioned it, actually the first name Purvis gave was you.

Yeah, Rodney is a great talent. He reminds you a little of D-Wade..the way he gets up. He’s like 6’2”, he can dribble the ball, he can really be an impact player in college.

Yeah, I caught him last week at the EYBL. Can you assess your jumper and your handle? Those are two things you mentioned to me you wanted to work on in an interview last summer.

Yeah, it’s the same thing. I’ve really been working on those two in the gym. Just working on ball handling and jump shots. Pick and roll and all of that kind of stuff.

Can you talk about the positives of each of the programs that are coming after you?

Oh, yeah, I just feel blessed that all of these colleges are interested. I just spoke with Coach K. Talked to him yesterday. Coach Cal, I e-mail him all of the time. Really, I’m just grateful to talk to all of these great coaches who’ve coached all of these NBA players and that kind of stuff. So, I just feel blessed. It’s a blessing to be out here every day and performing.

Can you give the audience a feel for what your conversations are like with either Coach K or Coach Calipari? Give a little insight or taste of what those conversations are like.

Oh, yeah, I mean, they’re like regular guys. Everybody thinks those guys have an ego of some sort. They want you to work. Coach K says if I go there, he says he wants me to work and play hard and play from the get-go and the same with Coach Cal. He’s going to push me, run and gun, all of those coaches are doing that and that’s what I look for.

So you feel they’re just normal guys?

Oh, yeah, they’re normal guys. People think they’re celebrity guys, but they’re just guys like us.

Well, I’m normal, but you’re not normal.

(laughs)

People talk about UCLA being your leader. Can you address that?

Oh, yeah, I have no leader at this point. I am wide open. I’m taking all of the opportunities that I can for colleges and the unofficials and that kind of stuff because I don’t want to commit too early.

Does that kind of stuff annoy you?

Oh, yeah, it really kinda does because people can take it the wrong way.

Because some would think it have to be either you or your brother that’s trying to leak it.

Yeah, I just try to clear it up with everybody and tell them that I’m open, wide open.

In terms of the time, do you have anything in mind for when you’d like to decide by?

I just think whenever it’s comfortable for me. I’ll make the decision then, but, right now, still I’m blessed to have this opportunity and talk to these coaches.

Sure, you only go through this once. What’s your current size?

6’6”, 215.

Is that a little bit heavier than you were ?

I was 218, but lost a little weight. I’m now down to 215 so I could be a little more aggressive.

Have you ever thought about going to school with Winston Shepherd?

Oh, yeah, absolutely, we talk about it all of the time.

Because, as I said before, I see you two together all of the time.

Oh, yeah, he’s like my family. He’s staying at my house right now, in fact. We’re literally like brothers staying over at my house. Play AAU together. He’s a real good player, he’s 6’8” and talented. He can handle a basketball.

I thought he played really well tonight out there with you.

Oh, yeah, he did.

What’s it like growing up in Las Vegas?

It’s nice.

 

Is it unusual?

No, it’s not unusual. People think it’s unusual because of the Strip, but most people who live there don’t go to the Strip. I like the weather, besides the summer. It gets really hot, but it’s a great place to grow up.

Talk about your father and his influence. He played at USC and what kind of guidance does he give you?

He’s the number one influence on me. I mean, he works me out, he helps me here. He does everything.

It looks like he’s in a little bit better shape than last summer.

(laughs) Oh, yeah, I’m trying to get him to lose weight.

Does he work out with you guys?

Oh, yeah, he does. He’s getting it after it also.. as am I.

I remember seeing a picture of him as a senior in the LA Times where he was just flying through the air.

Oh, yeah, we’re trying to get him back there.

Which players do you find underrated in your travels?

Underrated? I think Winston Shepherd’s underrated. He’s sixty something and he’s a top twenty-five guy. He’s 6’8” and can handle the ball. He’s very good.

Some of these rankings make you wonder what are these guys looking at.

Yeah, I mean you can’t just look at the rankings. You just have to go out there and perform and that will come.

Let’s say you were the NBA commissioner. What would your solution be with the early-entry issue?

My solution? I just think some of these guys, they go out here, they’re struggling at home, and all of that kind of stuff. I just think if they want to go out of high school, they should be able to go out of high school. If they want to go after one year, two years, whatever.

Capitalism.

I think it’s hard to go out there to perform as super stars and they’re living in bad houses or something like that. It helps people a lot when they can go straight from high school and just show their talent.

I was just curious, I hadn’t asked anybody about that issue on the record in a while, but that’ll be a significant issue in the lockout. Can you assess your defense? What type of people are more difficult for you to guard?

Quick guys are more difficult for me to defend, for sure. The more quick guys, the guys built like me.

There aren’t that many of them around.

(laughs) So, with those quick guys, I just try to use my arms and my strength to make them not go as fast.

Last time I spoke with you was, I guess, February. What visits have you taken and what do you have planned?

My latest visit right after we talked was..I took a visit to Arizona. It was a nice experience for me, real close to home. It was like the heat in Vegas. I was talking to Coach Book and Coach Miller and I enjoyed myself. I talked to D Wills or Derek Williams. He was talking to me about how it was to play for Coach Miller and how it’s a great opportunity for me.

Do you have any upcoming visits planned?

No, no upcoming plans after this. I’m just worried about this right now, busting my butt and we’ll see what happens from there.

What are you going to work on in the June down time…between AAU sessions? How are you going to use this time?

Oh, yeah, absolutely..I’m going to work on my game and I’ve also got therapy. Got to work on my game and get ready for July.

The one thing I wanted to touch on was your work ethic. You touched on earlier casually that you put in about three hours of work per day. For the younger members of the audience, talk about your work ethic involved and how you don’t simply rely on your physical abilities. Give them a sense of what is necessary to achieve your level of success.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. If you don’t have a work ethic, you’re not going to have a chance in this game. Sometimes, if I’m sleepy or something, that’s why I’m blessed to have the dad that I have. If I’m sleepy or don’t feel like going to the gym, he tells me to wake up and go to the gym. I put in about 3 hours a day and I practice every day.

Is that five days a week for you?

Yeah, that’s five days a week.

In terms of your five official visits, do you plan on doing them all or is that up in the air?

Oh, yeah, I plan on doing that. That’s definitely the plan, the five officials.

After your playing career is over, what are you thinking about doing? Would you like to get into coaching? Would you like to do broadcasting?

Yeah, actually, I’d like to be an analyst. I watch Charles Barkley all of the time.

You come across very well in these interviews. You’re able to think on your feet.

Oh, yeah, I try. I see myself being an analyst after wherever I’m at. That’d be a great opportunity.

Back to work ethic for a second, in order to achieve greatness, what’s driving you? Competitiveness?

It’s both competitiveness and hard work. The reason I work my butt off is because I know that there are some of these guys are working just as hard as me, but I know off the court in this camp, these guys aren’t working as hard as me. They’re not putting in three hours a day. They’re not busting their tail, and even if they are, I’m still doing it and I’m not wasting my time. I’m going to go at them with an attitude that I will achieve success.

I remember talking to your father one time and he was talking about you, your brother, and your sister and your competitiveness. He was saying your competitiveness was even at another level over your sister and how if she had your competitiveness she’d be ranked even higher.

Absolutely, you just have to be competitive. The game is full of competitors and to get to the highest goal, you have to be competitive.

I remember you were a big Kobe guy. He’s got that killer instinct.

Absolutely.

In terms of pros, have you ever played against pros and did you hold your own?

Oh, yeah, last summer, I played against Kevin Durant, Derek Rose, and OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Tyreke Evans.

Did you hold your own against those guys?

Oh, yeah, I was holding my own and that was when I was much weaker. I was like 195. So this summer, I plan on sticking with them.

That’s good. When your time is up, what do you hope people will remember about you?

When my time is up, I hope people will remember me as a competitor and try to win as many games as we can and go out with a bang and we’ll go from there.

What’s the best advice that you’ve received so far?

The best advice I’ve received so far is just be humble. It’s a very good thing and just treat everybody the same way you want to be treated. I think that’s a really good deal for both people.

As an interviewer, I really appreciate that.

Oh, yeah. I just think that’s the way people should treat one another. Most of these guys are just stuck up or won’t do interviews. I’m here for everybody.

I really appreciate that. What kind of music do you listen to? I always see you with those earphones. Do you try to get up or calm down?
Oh, no, I like to get up. I prefer rap or hip-hop. Get my adrenaline going and get ready to go to war.

Is it always the same music or do you try to mix it up?

Oh, no, I try to mix it up, but it’s pretty much the same songs.

Do you have to stay disciplined about food at this point or not too much?

Oh, yeah, I do. I have to stay on a diet. I have a personal trainer for my diet regimen so I’m not eating sweets or anything like that. You’ve got to stay disciplined.

You’ve got all of these highlight videos out there. Is there one play or one dunk that really stands out in your mind?

I just really liked doing the one where I did a windmill dunk off of one foot. In AAU, I’ve done that one a lot. In high school, I once did a 360 off of a fast break.

Oh, I remember seeing that one. What do you get out of doing Twitter? Building an audience? Communicating with your fans? Give updates, PhenomBalla?

(laughs) Oh, yeah, Phenom15balla. I just try to keep people updated on my Twitter. I’m blessed by everyone who follows me. I just try to talk about basketball and stuff like that. Keep updating.

What about being so heavily left-hand dominant? How do you work on that or combat it?

Yeah, that’s a big thing. Most guys when they’re guarding me think that I’m right-handed. So, that’s a big thing. It helps you get that first step on a lot of guys. It takes them a while to adjust.

When do they figure it out and they play your left hand? How do you try to combat them? What’s your counter?

I try to go power left and then go right and that usually helps and, with my improved quickness, it’s really helped me.

Now, let’s say you’re taking on Winston (Shepard) one-on-one. He knows you’re going left. He knows your moves and your counters. He’s bigger than you and has athleticism. How does he try to defend you?

Oh, yeah, I’ve been working out with Winston a lot… In my mind, he’s the best defensive guy in the country. Hands down. I’ve played against everybody in my class and he’s simply the toughest. He’s got a great mix.

I thought he played great again today. He’s become more of a complete player.

Oh, yeah, he did. He’s playing the quickest that I’ve ever seen and he’s, as you said, become a complete player.

I like that you’ve been generous in your praise of him.

Oh, yeah, well, he deserves it. We’ve been battling a lot in practice and I think it’s helped both of our games.

And he can almost match your athleticism?

Oh, yeah, he’s very athletic and 6’8.” He’s the real deal.

He’s become more active and competitive.

Oh, yeah, he’s very competitive too.

Lastly, Shabazz or Bazz, which do you prefer? I feel so formal calling you Shabazz all of the time.

Oh, yeah, well, either one is fine. Everybody usually calls me “Bazz” because Shabazz is kind of long, but I don’t mind it. I like it. I just go with it.

Thank you very much.

Oh, yeah, sure, absolutely. [/private]

BDN’s Pango’s Camp Recap – Shabazz Muhammad shines

LOS ANGELES – Just a week after the Nike EYBL, Los Angeles got another taste of some of the nation’s top high school basketball prospects during the Pango’s All American Camp. In comparison to last weekend there wasn’t the same depth of Duke prospects, but this was still a field with a lot of talent that caught our eye. The destination this weekend for BDN Premium? Cal State Dominguez Hills located right on the border of Compton/Carson, CA.

The camp kicked off with former New Orleans Hornets assistant and current ESPN radio personality Dave Miller teaching the campers some defensive fundamentals. The best way to describe Dave is loud and in charge. The former NBA assistant used his great personality to get the attention of the campers and explain to them the real world of high school, college, and pro hoops.

Some of the big time names at the camp were: Isaiah Austin, Andre Drummond, Shabazz and Rasheed Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett.

The name who likely helped his stock the most this weekend was  2012 forward Anthony Bennett, a 6’7 230 lbs tank.  Bennett threw down countless thunderous dunks and ran the court extremely well. While speaking to him last weekend he mentioned the staff [private] at Findlay Prep was really working his outside game, and it is certainly paying off. The big man showed an impressive outside touch knocking down numerous three point shots keeping the defense very honest. Findlay coach Mike Peck was in attendance and was sure to be proud of Bennett.

This was my second chance seeing Isaiah Austin, the last time being at last year’s Pangos camp. Austin looks to have put on a bit of weight as his arms look thicker but still has a very wiry thin frame. The 7 footer got to match up with Andre Drummond in the very first game of the camp and was immediately put to the test. Drummond’s powerful frame proved to be too much for him in the end but Austin did disrupt Drummond with his length a little bit. At this point Isaiah still tries to bring the ball up the court like a guard. His thin frame doesn’t allow him to really bang down low like you would like most 7 footers to do. The potential is there with Isaiah but adding weight is an absolute must for the Baylor bound prospect.

Let’s move on to 2012 big man Andre Drummond. For a long time scouts have touted him as the next big thing. It seems this weekend he came out to back up their statements. Drummond looked extremely motivated this weekend hustling up and down the court and attempting to grab any and every loose ball within his area code. The Connecticut prospect abused the rim and wooed the crowd with countless spectacular dunks, often making them look effortless. Sporting a college ready frame at 6’9 250 lbs it’s plain to see why so many scouts ranked him so highly. At this point, the big man has minimal to not shooting touch, a skill he would be wise to eventually add. I do not mean adding a three point shot, but simply a 10-15 footer to add a new dimension to his game. His free throw shooting also leaves much to be desired as I could have counted the number of free throw makes on one hand, despite countless trips to the line. Still, it is very easy to see how talented and athletic Drummond is, and is sure to be a future pro, though I’m not doing much more than stating the obvious.

No single player plays with more consistent intensity than Shabazz Muhammad. The 6’5 Las Vegas lefty scored in every way imaginable this weekend while bringing in camp MVP. Given his constant effort it was a simple choice to give him the award. Shabazz flew around all over the court and attacked the rim like with a ferocity that makes you think, “what did that poor rim ever do to you?” While not an incredible outside shooter, Shabazz showed enough that you must at least respect it to a certain degree. Not to say he doesn’t defend, but if that intensity ever fully carries over to the defensive side, watch out.  There isn’t much more to say about Muhammad that hasn’t been said. He is easily in my opinion the best prospect in 2012.

Recently a name that has popped up on Duke’s radar has been Brannen Greene, a 6’6 shooter out of Forsyth, Georgia. This was my first chance seeing the forward and his performance unfortunately was disappointing to say the least. Often times when a shooters shot isn’t dropping you’d like to see him be productive in other ways. This wasn’t exactly the case with Brannen. There wasn’t always effort on both sides of the court and at times seemed a bit unenthusiastic. He doesn’t seem to be possess a high level of athleticism at this point and often got his shot blocked when he tried to put the ball on the floor. Hopefully for his sake this was simply a bad weekend and he can move on from it and get better.

I have to give credit to BDN Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater for the next player, 2013 guard/forward Stephen Domingo out of San Francisco, CA. Before the camp started he had mentioned that Stephen should be a player of interest to watch and boy did he not disappoint. Currently sporting a very skinny frame the 6’6 (though I must say he is likely a bit shorter than this listing by an inch) prospect lit it up during the Top 25 game this weekend where he took home MVP of the match. Despite his slender body Stephen had no problem mixing it up a little bit. He’s not Shaquille O’Neal by any means, but it was a joy to watch him try to grab rebounds and block a few shots. One particular impressive play, Stephen grabbed a rebound, turned around, looked ahead, and fired off a pin point outlet pass leading to an easy bucket for his team; an impressive play for the young prospect. Domingo showed off a very solid three point shot as well as some mid range game, particularly using the pull up jumper. I think it’s safe to say that the scouts will be paying a lot more attention to the St. Ignatius product. [/private]

In Depth Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Duke will face a lot of key questions this off season and we bring you the skinny on several key issues - BDN Photo by Lance King

The Duke Blue Devils will head to China this summer and BDN Premium has some details of interest for our members.  We also take a look at the latest on the basketball recruiting front, and we break down several key issues and questions the team will face in the coming months in our latest team and recruiting update.

The season just ended but it won’t be long before a bevy of freshman prospects become true Blue Devils.  Duke will have all of the freshmen come in early in order to get acclimated with campus life.  While the [private] times may vary for each player, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Austin Rivers, Michael Gbinije, Quin Cook and maybe another young man will all be on campus no later than mid-June.

Getting on campus early has always been a good thing for kids in order to play pick up ball and participate in local events like the NC Pro Am at N.C. Central University.  This year however, will carry extra off season significance in that the men’s team will be heading to China and Dubai where they are expected to play either four or five games.

Talk about timely!  Coach Krzyzewski and his staff saw this season coming and planned this long before any of us could have possibly realized the positive ramifications it would have  on a young, reloading team.  You see, Duke will be able to hold ten full throttle practices at their discretion before the trip takes place.  With 13-14 players expected at those sessions, Duke will have a jump on the process of  building team chemistry.

And there are many off season questions to be answered.  One we’ve brought up before is, who will run the PG position for the 2011-12 team? Quin Cook has all the tools but must adjust to the system and blend with the core returnees.  Tyler Thornton is tough as nails, played against Cook on many occasions in high school and he will certainly not roll over and give the position up to the freshman.  Then there is the possibility of Seth Curry getting time at the point in that it would be his position at the next level.  That would also allow for more firepower and combinations on the court.  And don’t think for one second that Austin Rivers will not be handling the ball or have it in his hands during key moments on the offensive end.

Another key question is who will be the captain(s) of this team? This question has puzzled some in the off season for there is no one name that simply jumps out at you when pondering the roster.  Can Seth become more vocal?  Will a Plumlee take a lead role?  How about the outgoing Josh Hairston?  Many questions lay in wait and that is why the summer excursion will be so vital to next year’s team.  Few “rah-rah” guys are on the team but it is not unusual for Duke to have quiet leaders, just look back at Kyle Singler.  A name we think might surface is junior Ryan Kelly in that he is a low maintenance, hard working player who does what he is told, but we’ll see and it will be fun to watch it all shake out.  “There is no timetable in naming Captains. We want to see who steps up and accepts that role,” stated a source as close to the team as one gets.

Some other questions answered will be what kind of offense will the Duke staff settle on this season?  Will they press more?  Will they run their offense through three or more players?  Can Austin Rivers be the go to guy as a freshman?  Will Mason Plumlee have the breakout season everybody thinks he can?  Will the ball go into him more?  Will Duke get out and run?  Can Duke develop more than the usual 7 or 8 players for the rotation with a deep team?  Will Miles step up as the lone senior?  The questions are endless and each will take on a life of its own.

Another key issue that many on our board and others talk about is who will redshirt?  First of all, a poster on the board asked how many redshirts can a team have and the answer to that is as many as they want each season.  “There is no limit on # of redshirts you can have. The only limit is the 13 scholarships we are allowed to give. Right now, there is no definite plan to redshirt anyone.  We want all of our guys to come in competing for spots and those decisions would not need to be made until next fall before our 1st game,” a source told BDN.  That means there are no set plans to redshirt Marshall Plumlee or say Alex Murphy.  Duke will allow and expect players to compete at their highest level and then they’ll take a look at their roster, season needs and depth at various positions.  And be sure to pay attention to the last part of the quote which stated it will be later rather than sooner before we know of the Blue Devils definite plans.

I have already stated that Duke will have ten practices before games but that is just part of the good news for team development.  Once Duke hits the road their is no limit to the amount of practices they can have.  That’s right! Duke can work the heck out of the guys and that will bode well come the early season in that it gives the staff a good idea of what they have to work with.

While pondering the journey ahead, it dawned on me that this would likely limit the amount of players that would participate in the N.C. Pro Am, the summer event we cover from end to end at NCCU.  I asked about it and was told they were uncertain how many players would participate in the event but that their time would be cut shorter than in the past. In short, expect some Duke players to participate in some of the games but at this time no firm plans have been made one way or another.

Who will wear #0? I don’t know.  In fact, Duke doesn’t even know what numbers the freshmen will wear yet.  I can, however, tell you that the numbers will be assigned before Duke heads to China.

Rasheed Sulaimon agreed to do a diary on the coming AAU and high school season for BDN.  He is working on his first entry.

What is up with DeAndre Daniels? All I can say is that the process of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s is taking place.  Daniels has in no way cooled on Duke, but he is taking his time and the staff is okay with that.  Several teams have turned up the heat of late, so there is fierce competition, but until I hear otherwise, I still feel Duke is right where they are supposed to be at this point in time.

What is up with recruiting in general? Not a lot of major changes since my last update on the subject.  The coaches cannot get out there again until the July period is over, meaning no open gyms, events and such.  But we can get out there and we will for you know you can count on BDN Premium to go to most of the major events, as well as covering the guys from a regional perspective. In fact, the irrepressible Andrew Slater is in the “D” known as Dallas for the Nike EYBL this weekend and you all know what that means!  In-depth interviews and superior board updates are Slater traits.  Quite often when one thinks of BDN, they come up with Watzone, a long time nickname I have had although I have never really gone by it.  I have been asked if it were italian, wat-zon-ne before but the best one was whether it was code for “what-zone.”  Anyhow, we have been introducing some new faces and we have plenty more to come but the staff will not zero in on those names until they can get out and see them in person.  Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker top the list still but others are being watched, evaluated and studied and we’ll let you know who the real prospects are and give you in person views.  Andrew and myself see the kids in person playing several games, mingle with sources and such.  Not to brag, but BDN has a pretty good one-two punch team not to mention tuned in posters and contributors. Add in our regional guys like Varand Kachadouri and others and you have the most unique premium site out there.

BDN Football Recruiting coverage needs more hype!  Those of you who follow football know just how good of a  job true Dukie Patrick Cacchio does with his tremendously informative Football Friday articles.  It hasn’t taken long for this site to set itself up as a true player in football recruiting and I will stack our dedication up there with anyone.  Spread the word that if you want to be a Duke Football Insider, this has fast become the place to be.

Changes and such. The season was overwhelming enough but then recruiting kicked in with little or no break.  I have mentioned that a few folks have inquired about bringing BDN in under their flag but as of now we have chosen to remain the best independent site out there.  Talks are ongoing but slow for we care about how content is presented and want to make sure if we ever join a group it is for the right reasons and it shares in our vision of bringing about the most intense, home-centric fan experience one can have.  I would also like to address site changes which are still in the works.  Our staff has had a hard time getting together on this due to unexpected events.  Susan Rego who holds the ship together will be headed for a long three week vacation in the coming days but once she is back and settled in, we will be tweaking the site and finally bringing you the database for prospects we’ve long promised.  I can assure you that a lot of thought has and will go into positive changes, making the site not just better but more user-friendly.  I am open to suggestions and you can e-mail me any thoughts concerning the site at watzonebdp@gmail.com.  Look for one change in the next week or so if all goes as planned where we have partnered with Duke Athletics.

Lastly, thanks for being a member of BDN Premium.  I feel BDN is bringing you the perfect balance of youth and wisdom these days.  Both Andrew and Patrick are in the under 30 club and they are true go-getters.  I bring experience from being around the program even before Coach K came in.  We have all forged genuine relations with top notch sources to bring you accurate, straightforward information you can bank on.  The site is steady as ever and the future is promising and we are glad you are a part of it.  Keep in mind that any member who refers new members of one year still gets their choice of Duke memorabilia or extended time on their membership.  We will clarify the program when changes come about.   Thanks for reading and Go Duke!

Note – I am sorry to address this but must …  Copy and pasting or sharing this article in any form without prior consent is a breach of the user agreement.  BDN reserves the right to ban any member who openly and willingly breaks rules set forth without refund as stated in the user agreement.  This is not a widespread problem, but we have had trouble with discussion on our private message board being  shared in other forums and articles in their entirety.  And a warning for those certain few with an ax to grind or some who may have been banned from BDN, we take slanderous statements seriously around here.   That kind of behavior is clearly a breach of the agreement you check when joining the site.  We ask that you please abide by the rules agreed upon.  In closing, we in no way advocate getting in board wars with members of other sites.  Please bear in mind that actions of our members reflect on the site as a whole and there will be no further discussion of other sites on our message board in a negative way.  We are taking the high road here and hope others follow. [/private]

Shabazz Muhammad Interview – “Im looking forward to going down there again”

Bazz throws on down in Wilson Rec Center - BDN Photo

One of the nations most coveted recruiting prospects, Shabazz Muhammad, is currently in the midst of his high school teams playoff run.  Muhammad is one of the Blue Devils top priorities in the class of 2012 but to gain his services they must contend with Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA for his services.

Muhammad can play above the rim and his athleticism blended with his understanding of the game makes him a prize catch.  The question is where will he play his collegiate career?

Blue Devil Nation Premium spoke with Muhammad about his season and the recruiting process gaining the latest news on the front in this in depth interview.

I hope all has been well for you of late and that you are having success as your high school basketball season is winding down.

Everything is going great.  The playoffs are going really good.  We’ve played three games and beat everybody by a very good amount, so everything is going great and we are really comfortable moving forward in the playoffs. The teams we’ve played are the ones we’ll see in the finals, so we are taking care of business there.

The last time we talked you had a fairly long list of schools.  Has it changed any since that time?

It’s pretty much the same.  I don’t have any order or a top three or five, just a lot of schools currently in the mix.

Let me see if I get this right … Texas, UCLA Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina? [private]

Uh, UNLV and UCLA.

I understand that UCLA has been making a big push at you of late, is that true?

Yes, they have been.  I really like them.  Coach Howland is a great coach, he has coached a lot of good players and has done a good job.  I always watch them on TV and follow them from home and that’s really a program I look at.

What about Duke?

Yeah, I’ve been talking to Coach K.  I talked with him last week.  He’s a very prestigious coach as everybody knows.  He just loves his players up and down.  He’s a great coach and I talked to their assistants — Coach Wojo, he’s a great guy and he helped with USA so he had a lot of experience training those guys and it’s a great atmosphere there and I’m looking forward to going down there again.

When you say going down there again, when might you visit?

No visit planned yet, but they’ll probably be one soon planned for Duke.

What about Kentucky?  The last time we talked you said you haven’t visited yet.  Is that still the case?

No I haven’t been yet but I really want to get down there.  We really want to visit but haven’t found the time yet, so I want to go down there.  The dribble drive offense is pretty  much at your hand, so you can make a lot of decisions.  I think it’s a very good program and they allow a lot of freedom.  Calipari is a very good coach, he’s a players coach.

What about North Carolina?

I watched them yesterday [UNC-Boston College game] and Williams is a good coach.  They’ve got some good coaches with a lot of experience.  I talk to a lot of the players and get feedback from them and they really enjoy themselves at Chapel Hill, so it is a good opportunity for me to be recruited by them and all these schools.

You’re Phenomballa on twitter and social networking is a big thing these days.  Do you strike up friendships with players at other schools?

Oh yeah.  I have a lot of friends with the guys in college.  Like with Duke, Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving.  North Carolina?  John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes … a lot of guys.  I want to get to know some of the players because those guys are there and I can get feedback on the school.

Any changes in the key factors with concern to your impending decision?

First look at the style of play, then my relationship with the coach and how my parents feel about me going there.  I will just look at a school, concentrate and make the right choice for me.

Now, you have a little brother who is a pretty good baller himself.  What kind of advice do you give him?

I do give him advice.  He is kind of struggling on the varsity level, so I give him a lot of advice and he eats it up, so at the end of the day he’s going to be fine.

You told me one time that you decision could come down to the gun or final lap if you will.  Has that changed?  Will you take you five official visits or …

I will make a decision when I feel comfortable.  I just want to make the right choice, not too early in order to make the right choice for me and my family.

Do players have something to do with the decision?  Do you  look at the rosters and at who is coming in,  is there and or who is leaving?

Of course, I want to play with really good players, so I look at that.  I want to win a national championship wherever I go, sot that’s what that is.

Shabazz, suppose a person came along and they had never seen you play.  How would you describe your game in your own words?

I  play inside and out.  I shoot the mid range jumper, go to the hole, slash and I’ll try to dunk on you.  I’m always by the rim, get a lot of offensive and defensive rebounds and try to be a match up issue for my opponent.

When did you first learn that you had mad basketball skills and when did you know basketball would become a huge part of your life?

Probably in my ninth grad year in the summer.  I just really started to improve my game and I was growing a lot getting stronger, so that’s when I knew.

I see where ESPN currently has you ranked number one at your position and five overall.  Is that something you pay attention to and if so are you the kind of guy that says at the end of it all I want to top those lists?

Absolutely.  They always have those big guys ahead of the guards.  But when it comes time to go to the NBA, some of those big guys are always a bust, but those guards always end up as guys playing years in the league and that gives me motivation and I’ll work to be number one.

Of the schools you’ve visited thus far, which one has been the most impressive?

Um. [pause] Probably Duke and the atmosphere there which made you really want to be in the game and playing.

Have you seen game with UCLA, North Carolina and such?

I’ve been to UNC, but haven’t been to Texas yet.  I really like UNC’s arena too, it’s a very big atmosphere.  When I went ot late night with Roy, it was a really good experience and I enjoyed myself a lot.

Describe yourself as a person?

Very talkative guy, funny, I can take things seriously and then mess around, left handed, love to play basketball, play X-Box, and hang out with friends.

What is in your game console right now?

Call of Duty, that’s pretty much all I play.  I sometimes play on line with other prospects and players.

That would be pretty cool to watch.  Thanks for your time Shabazz, and best of luck in the playoffs.

Okay, no problem.  Thank you.

We approached Shabazz as Sports Nation and not Blue Devil Nation to get untainted answers.  I now feel it is clear that this one could go on for a good while, but he did say he’d pull the trigger if he got that feel.  It is also clear that there are four players in this, being Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA.  Shabazz seems to like large arenas and he has yet to visit Kentucky for a game but if he does, they are impressive up that way.  Discuss this interview on the BDN Premium message board.  If you are a premium member and not yet on the message board, contact us under FAQ on the main page. [/private]

High School Hoops 2011 Edition No. 4

As the holiday season continues, high school basketball tournaments roll on across the nation. Tony Parker and Miller Grove High participated in the Beach Ball Classic at Myrtle Beach, SC, Rasheed Sulaimon and Strake Jesuit High were in action at the Father George National Jesuit Christmas Classic in Bethesda, MD, Mike Gbinije and Benedictine High participated in the Capital City Classic in Richmond, VA, Marshall Plumlee and Christ School were in action at the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, NC, and Shabazz Muhammad and Bishop Gorman HS participated in the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, OR. [private]

Tony Parker dominated at the Beach Ball Classic with back-to-back-to-back double-double performances as Miller Grove High School won the tournament championship. Parker set a tournament record for rebounds (58) and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. He scored 61 points in Miller Grove’s three wins.

In the championship game, a 79-58 victory over Boys & Girls High School (NY), Parker scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.

To advance to the championship game, Miller Grove survived two overtime games against Gonzaga (Wash DC), 67-59 and Douglass (Okla City) 76-71. Parker recorded 21 points and 18 rebounds against Gonzaga, and 20 points and 27 rebounds against Douglass.

At the Capital City Classic, Benedictine won the championship with an 85-65 win over Miller School. Mike Gbinije scored 18 points. In the opening round, Gbinije’s stat line was 27 points, six rebounds, eight steals and four assists as Benedictine defeated Cathedral 78-50.

Rasheed Sulaimon, the latest 2012 recruit to receive a scholarship offer form the Blue Devils, was named Most Valuable Player at the Father George National Jesuit Christmas Classic. Here is a link to a nice write up by Blue Devil Nation member Chris Heery over at DukeHoopBlog. Here is a tournament photo gallery.

Marshall Plumlee exploded offensively in the second and third games at the GSK Invitational scoring 14 points and 21 points after scoring nine points in the tournament opener.

Christ School finished in third place overall by defeating Brandon HS 70-46, losing to United Faith Christian 68-48, and defeating Westchester Country Day 62-51.

Here are links to tournament video clips and photo galleries.

Shabazz Muhammad scored 23 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in the championship game at the Les Schwab Invitational, but Bishop Gorman fell to DeMatha 58-52. Muhammad averaged 21.3 points per game in the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Now that the holiday tournaments are all wrapped up, high schools will be returning to their regular schedule and Blue Devil Nation will continue to keep our readers up to date on all the action with links to game recaps and box scores so be sure and check back for our continuing coverage of High School Hoops 2011. [/private]