Tag Archives: Varand Khachadouri

The Isaiah Briscoe Interview: A Boogie Up Production

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Did you feel any added pressure being on TV?

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

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

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

 

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

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

Does he give you any advice?

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

What are your goals for the rest of the summer?

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

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

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

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

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

He’s an efficient player.

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

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

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

Are you in a rush to decide?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a good student?

Pretty good. 

Are you, at least, a B student?

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

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

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

Where do you like to catch the ball most?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you hoping to show coaches this summer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the Pangos All-American Camp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mostly, the gym.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How did you get the nickname “Boogie?”

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

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

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

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

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

What did Coach K say to you?

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

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

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

 What is their pitch to you?

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

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

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

Who’s your favorite pro team?

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

Who are you close to on the AAU circuit?

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

 Thanks a lot for your time. I appreciate it.

Sure thing, I told you I got you.

[/private]

BDN’s Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update – the original!

Duke Football is just now entering the meat of its season but in the Gothic Wonderland anticipation for basketball has already started in that Countdown to Craziness is just around the corner.  Actually, the fact of the matter is that basketball is a 24/7 thing at Duke due to their outrageous success under Coach K.

The next time you’re on campus and near Cameron Indoor Stadium, you will notice the long shadow cast from the Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center. On the top floor, where an American Flag is hanging, Coach Mike Krzyzewski surveys his program as he peeks out at the Duke campus.

One floor below Krzyzewski, sits the staff of Duke assistants, Jeff Capel, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski.  But this time of year, those guys are often gone in that they are hitting the recruiting trail.  BDN Premium, our extended subscription service takes a look at the scene in our long time favorite feature, the Men’s Basketball Team and Recruiting Update.  Our concept is often copied by other web sites, but you can never duplicate the spirit of the original — it’s the most informative update around!

BDN was the first site to cover every single major recruiting event and we’ve done so for four years running. My extended staff of Andrew Slater and Varand Khachadouri, get first hand analysis and live interviews from the key prospects.  These guys are not stringers, so they know what you want to hear and read about.  BDN is much more than just Mark Watson these days and if you haven’t witnessed Slater’s knowledge of all things AAU, then you are missing out! He is the best at what he does and a valuable part of Team BDN which has grown into quite a group of fans, experts and alumni.  Exciting changes are in the works around here and if you want to know who the staff looked at last week and who they will see this week, this is the place for you.  If you want the latest scoop, we’re bringing it hard in our latest premium offering.  Join other great fans on our private message board and discuss the latest happenings and stay informed on visitors to CTC, visit dates and in home and official visits, player and team updates and so much more.  To top it off, we have a great interview with prospect Matt Jones on the way as well.

Let’s catch up with the latest - Alex Poythress dropped Duke last evening and this [private] one was coming.   I love this kid as a person and player and wish him the best.  Duke is rolling the dice on other players, but those dice are somewhat weighted, meaning the Blue Devils feel they are right there with McGary and Parker.  Poythress was once a viable option but with Duke being in early with the likes of Jabari Parker amongst others, the staff cooled on Alex in recent weeks and pulled back the interest on his recruitment.  As seen in my last update, his visit was set up last and that in itself was a bit of a sign if you know what to look for.

Speaking of Tony Parker, he most recently granted a UCLA site an interview.  Check it out.  The guys from the site sent me this link last evening and hinted that they thought Duke was in the final two for sure.  Folks, Duke has been right there all along.  As aloof as Parker is, he has never come close to dropping Duke.  Coach K has been consistently active on this one and Parker’s mom loves Duke.  If it were up to the family, this one would be over.  Tony now seems to be coming around as well and in the end, the family could be the trump card.  Coach K raved about Parker’s hands during the Peach Jam and that is just before things started getting kind of weird with Tony due to his all-over-the-place comments.  Duke will visit Tony during an open gym this week.  As frustrating as his recruitment has been to fans who follow the process, we could end up happy in the end.  I don’t expect a decision any time in the next few weeks though and a trip to L.A. is happening.  Mark down the date of  October 28th, the day Parker and his parents are slated to visit the Duke campus.

We are all sitting on pins and needles awaiting Mitch McGary news as well.  The in-home visit went very well, but the family will work through the process.  This is another situation where Duke is sitting pretty with the parents but the decision in the end will be made by Mitch.  His high school coach continues to be impressed by Duke but his AAU coach is pushing Michigan.  McGary was floored when three quarters of the Big House cheered his name during a football game.  That’s about three times Wallace Wade filled to capacity!  Hopefully, he sees that it was orchestrated and gets past it.  McGary remains very open but Duke is right there in the mix as things wind down.  I will be talking to a few folks close to the situation on his end in the near future and will have a better grasp on the situation at that time.

As for Shabazz Muhammad?  We have been telling you from the very start that Duke would ride this one out all the way.  I feel it is a three team race between UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke — nothing new here.  I also feel that UCLA and Duke are the leaders with the Bruins currently being the slight favorite.  Before you make too much out of Kyle Anderson’s commitment to the Bruins as having a dire effect, think again, for it is not that simple.  This one could effect the situation in two differing ways, but I can’t go into that right now out of respect to a source.  Bazz loves the Duke brand and it is not like he will be around long enough for UCLA to build around him, so that might work in the Blue Devils favor.  Still, the Adidas ties have some play here but it is hard to imagine Nike not being able to heal any wounds.  This one goes to the wire and Duke is firmly involved and has a shot.  The idea was to stay in it the whole time and let the cards fall where they may.  And for the record, Coach K has been very proactive with all three remaining targets.  This one ends in April.

USA Basketball is a friend of the Duke program due to Mike Krzyzeswki heading Team USA.  But there are occasions when young men have USA duties and that conflicts with plans on the recruiting front.  This is the case with Jabari Parker and Tyus Jones, who will not be able to make it to Countdown to Craziness due to a USA Basketball event on the same weekend.  So far, the only two confirmed for CTC are Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon.  However, there is a list of some local underclassmen that will be there as well but no major targets as of yet.  More on that later.

Let’s talk about the prospects mentioned above, starting with Jabari Parker.  Parker was looking forward to CTC but will visit campus late this year, likely the UNC at Duke finale.  He will also be here on December 17th to play in Cameron in an event that Blue Devil Nation is helping sponsor.  Duke remains in solid early shape with Parker and I am on record as saying I feel like we’ll get this stud when the dust clears.

Julius Randle cannot make it to CTC due to Homecoming festivities that he will participate in at his high school.  He will visit during the season, maybe Duke and UNC at the same time on the date we previously listed.  Coach Capel remains at the forefront of his recruitment, visited him last week and will again this week.  Duke is in his top five and that is good considering he is a flat out stud in the post.  Duke will remain very active with Randle.

When watching Tyus Jones early this summer, the kid really caught my eye.  I have always gone with my hunches, so we were the first Duke site to interview him two years ago and did so again before other sites this past summer.  As it turns out, Duke is enamored with his play as well and if Coach K likes what he sees, you are firmly on the radar and he is.  Duke will remain involved with Jones and are getting to know him more as time moves forward.  I feel Duke will be a player in this one but it’s still early.  Duke will be visiting Tyus Jones this week.

As you know Duke has been on the trail hard of late, so let me recap the past week for you,  All of the coaches have had their turns at various open gyms and the list of players visited last week include Nerlens Noel, Noah Vonleh, Matt Jones and Julius Randle.

With that said, let me now clarify who Duke will see this week and in the coming month.  This week alone, Duke is scheduled to see the aforementioned Tyus Jones and Jabari Parker.  They will also check out Tony Parker again, staying on him hard.  Another trip will be made north to see Mitch McGary and to say Duke is on him hard as well is an understatement.  There is serious heat with the two bigs.  Duke will also check out Jahill Okafor, another kid that BDN was the first to interview among Duke sites, thanks to Andrew Slater.  Be sure to go back to the archives to read his interview, which is Andrew-like, meaning very in depth.  One quick note – when I mention other sites I am in no way knocking them.  I am simply drawing attention to what we do and how dedicated our coverage is.  We really are ahead of the curve when we are on the trail and we always look for kids Duke might recruit and that has worked well for us in that it often comes to fruition.

Don’t go anywhere because I’m not through yet!  Very good news on the Quinn Cook front.  As you know, I never thought Cook was the same after his knee injury a season ago.  Well, after some rest and treatment, he has rejoined the team in all of their drills.  Cook is moving much better and the knee is feeling good. The Duke staff loves having him back in the team workouts.  He hasn’t had any setbacks since he’s been back.  Duke feels he offers an added dimension in that he is a good distributor and that could earn him a spot with hard work.  Moving Curry and River off ball combined with his offensive skill set would put a lot of shooter on the court.  Cook continues to learn where his teammates want the ball in pick ups.

I will have more news on the Clash in Cameron on Wednesday which is the day we will launch the hype.  I am working with a good group of folks as a sponsor of the event that brings Jabari Parker to Cameron on December the 19thMitch McGary will also be here but is scheduled to play at North Carolina Central University.

In closing, thanks for being a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium and if you like what you see, please spread the word about the job our staff is doing and that we are indeed most friendly to anybody that comes aboard.  Let’s go Duke!  Discuss this article on the BDN Premium Message Board with other fans. [/private]

Shabazz Muhammad looking forward to a return trip to Duke

The nation’s top player, 2012 Shabazz Muhammad, was back for his second trip to the Boost Mobile Elite 24. Last year Muhammad was one of the few juniors selected to the team, and this year he is one of the veterans of the competition. It was never a surprise that Muhammad would have a return trip to Venice Beach as the senior has maintained his status as top dog with a constant target on his back. The Las Vegas product has filled in his frame giving himself a college ready body to go along with his unmatched effort and focus. Duke has long stayed on the prospect regardless of rumors of where he may end up. BDN got a chance to speak with the talented senior and get his thoughts on his return trip to Venice Beach. (BDN Premium  is currently running a membership special where you can save up to 15% off our normal rates.  Go to the join page to see discounted options and come inside for more exciting information)

BDN: Being the veteran at this event now is anything different or easier about it?

SM: Yea it’s a little different. Last year I was the young guy and I learned a lot. Now I’m a veteran trying to teach these young guys how to fit into this event.

BDN: How do you like the gear they hook have hooked you up with?

SM: Oh yea definitely. The gear is nice. We get a lot of stuff. UnderArmor hooks us up with a lot of gear and their stuff’s really comfortable so it’s a great event to come to.

BDN: Who was the toughest [private] pro you got to play against? Either here or at Impact (Las Vegas basketball facility)

SM: Probably Derrick Rose.

BDN: What can you come away with from the training session they had?

SM: You can come away with a lot of stuff. The drills they taught, some of those drills I didn’t know about, like the one with the weight vest and weight ball. You can definitely take that back home and work on that stuff.

BDN: You spend a lot of time with these guys have you had a chance to make any new relationships?

SM: Yea I made a lot of new friends especially going into this. I didn’t really know a lot of these guys and now I’m getting to know them all. It’s a great event to make friends.

BDN: What do you believe is the most improved aspect of your game since your last visit here?

SM: I really think my ball handling and my change of direction on my jump shot. I tried to work on it out here, even though it wasn’t falling. I’m going to continue to work on that stuff because at the next level that’s the stuff I really need. I’ve also been working on my right hand a lot.

BDN: What official visits do you have set up so far?

SM: The only official visit I have so far is Kentucky for their Midnight Madness, that’s one I know I’m going to, and the rest I’m going to decide with my parents and go from there.

BDN: Do you feel like you’ll make an early or late decision?

SM: Probably a late one.

BDN: In the spring?

SM: Yea wait until the spring. I really want to make sure I make the right decision and talk a little bit with everybody.

BDN: One of the teams that is recruiting you is Duke, have you been able to watch any of their games in China?

SM: Yea I have been able to watch them. I talked to Coach K when he was in the airport. Their cell phones were out in the one country they were at but I talked to him in China also. He said they were going to go sight-seeing at the Great Wall of China. It’s a great experience and I really love Coach K and the relationship we’re building is a really great one. Coach Wojo is also a great guy and I can’t wait to go back there again.

BDN: You’re entering your senior year now, what are you trying to prove?

SM: I just think I have to maintain what I’m doing now. They ranked me as the number one player so obviously I have to continue to work hard and not rest on my laurels. I just need to continue to get into the gym and work on the things I said I was working on like my right hand, and change of directions from a jump shot. I know I’m gonna keep working on it and getting better at it.

BDN: Much appreciated for your time Shabazz.

SM: No problem. [/private]

Julius Randle Follow Up Interview

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

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

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

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

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

You seem to do it well

Yes sir! (laughs)

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

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

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

Yes sir I’ll definitely take him inside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He talks to me like a big brother.

I notice he has a very youthful personality.

Oh yea definitely.

Thanks for your time, Julius.

No problem. [/private]

BDN’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]

BDN catches up with Rasheed Sulaimon in L.A.

Pictured here is Rasheed Sulaimon and you can hear the latest on the future Blue Devil by joining BDN Premium, our extended subscription service. A ton of interviews and information awaits you inside! BDN Photo

LOS ANGELES – Duke started off hot with their 2012 recruiting class in February, picking up two five star commitments in Rasheed Sulaimon and Alex Murphy all in a week’s span. Since then, Alex has graduated early and is now coming to Duke with the 2011 class leaving Rasheed as the sole 2012 commit. Rasheed showed off great defense this past weekend at the Nike EYBL in Los Angeles despite hurting his ankle after a made 3 point shot. He displayed a quality shooting touch as well as a solid handle that allowed him to get to the basket on more than one occasion. BDN was able to catch up briefly with the 2012 commit and pick his brain on a few things.

BDN: Can you describe the play that you hurt your ankle?

RS: Oh, well, L.J (L.J Rose, 2012 guard) drove and kicked the ball out to me because the guy helped, and two people rushed at me but I still could get the shot off, so I just elevated and I stroked it, and when I came down my foot landed on Archie Goodwin’s foot and my ankle kind of twisted and I heard a pop.

Ouch, that hurts my ankle just hearing about it. You went back in for a little bit and got some good run in.

Yea you know I don’t think it’s severe, it was just in the moment, it hurts a lot now but I think it’ll be good.

Well it was good you were able to get back in and test it out.

Yea, yea. So right now it’s [private] swelled up a little bit on me and it’s kind of paining me right now but I’ll be fine, I’m just going to ice it down and take some Advil and I’ll be ready for the next game.

Now you mentioned Archie earlier (Archie Goodwin, 2012 wing), what’s it like to play against him?

Me and him are actually really good friends so we’ve been talking about this matchup for awhile. He’s just a very explosive player ya know. Out on the open court he can finish above the rim, he’s very strong going both ways, so you know it was a real challenge. But I just kind of read his moves and relied on my help to help me out if he got past me.

I noticed you were on him a lot and were really locking him down, but once you left with the injury he got kind of wide eyed and figured he could start attacking the hoop now.

(laughs) Yea yea!

Something a little different here: When you’re bringing the ball down the court tell me what you’re looking for, what’s going through your mind?

Well when I’m coming down the court honestly I’m looking for weak spots in the defense ya know. I’m looking at where I can attack or where I can make the pass to get someone or myself an open look. If they’re playing zone you try and swing the ball very quickly to try and get an open look and maybe attack the middle. And when they are on man you try and look for the gaps so you can get the ball there and shoot from the gaps. I’m just always looking for the weaknesses in the defenses.

You’ve got a big matchup later today against Rodney Purvis and CP3. I know you’re close with Rodney, have you spoken with him about the matchup?

Oh yea man, same thing with Archie. We both knew we were going to play each other when we got down here so we texted a lot back and forth and talked about this game. He hurt his ankle before L.A so I was just telling him to get ready for L.A. and I got a text back from him telling me to be ready for L.A too. Ya know it’ll be real fun, going against Rodney he’s a great player, great finisher and real strong so I’m really looking forward to it.

He’s got a young teammate named Theo Pinson, have you ever played against him?

Na I haven’t, but I’ve definitely heard of him. One of my teammates Justin Jackson was talking about him cause he’s rated really high. He’ll probably get to match up against him.

Will you be attending any camps after this event?

Yea I’ll be going to the NBA Top 100 Camp, the Deron Williams Skills Academy, and the Lebron James Skills Academy.

I always see you talking to some of the 2012 recruits, have you had a chance to talk to Tony Parker this weekend?

Oh yea, I’ve texted him and seen him here quite a bit. I still talk to him about it. From the looks of it Duke still has a good chance and they are on his list. I’m just going to keep pushing it and messaging him about Duke so he’ll keep thinking about it and hopefully he’ll make that move.

Last question here: What’s your role like on Houston Hoops? I know you’ve got a lot of talented guards so are they asking you to be a scorer more or a facilitator? Both?

Well yea since we have such great guards in myself, L.J Rose, and J-Mychal Reese, the scoring is kind of spread out. Ya know anyone of us can score and we have some other players that can score as well so my role is just to bring energy, lock up the best perimeter guy on the opposite team and to score when it’s there. I try to do that every game to try and help us win.

Thanks for your time. Good luck the rest of the summer.

Thanks a lot. [/private]