Scouting the Tournament of Champions

On Saturday, Crazie-Talk and a few friends were lucky enough to get to the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. The annual event is hosted at Duke, UNC, and NC State. Fortunately, quite a few recruits on Duke’s radar played games in Cameron. Among them were top 2012 targets Alex Murphy and Shabazz Muhammad, as well as two 2011 prospects in combo guard Quinn Cook, who happens to be Nolan Smith’s god-brother, and Marshall Plumlee, who happens to be the third and final Plumlee brother. Check out video highlights (courtesy of our good friend Peter) and our own scouting reports after the jump.


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Murphy likes to be assertive in taking the ball to the rim at every opportunity. He was very successful in doing so and was fouled a lot of his attempts, resulting in a handful of and-1s. He wasn’t hitting his free throws in this game though, finishing 3-8 from the line. The outside shots were not falling either, and he came up empty from beyond the arc. However, his handles are quite good for someone his size, and this helps him when he decides to take it to the rim. His team used him as their primary ballhandler when their starting point guard was on the bench. He isn’t afraid of contact either and likes to drive into the body of his opponent. As a result, he went to the line more than anyone else in the game. Defensively, he did a very good job of staying alert and switching on screens and having active hands. On the offensive end, he was sometimes prone to standing on the wing and waiting for something to happen, without a whole lot of motion. Probably not one of his best games overall but it gave a good feel of what he can bring on the court.

Bottom Line: The staff is very high on Alex, and for good reason. He could fit into the niche carved out by legends Mike Dunleavy and Kyle Singler very well. After speaking with him briefly after his game, Murphy mentioned that he would be taking an unofficial visit with his family today. Here’s to hoping he falls for Gothic Wonderland.

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Muhammad, fresh off of a 30-plus point performance on Friday night, played extremely well in Dream Vision’s matchup with Team Philly. This looked to be a marquee matchup heading into the weekend, but Team Philly’s star wing Amile Jefferson (who is also on Duke’s radar) was unable to play. Although there is a bevy of talented wings in the 2012 class, Muhammad seemed to be as good as advertised. He has ridiculous athleticism and a smooth jump shot. That combination allowed him to score more than 20 points in a plethora of ways. An aggressive lefty, Shabazz can also finish strong at the rim. From what we were able to see, Shabazz is definitely worth the hype.

Bottom Line: Shabazz Muhammad is easily one of the top players in his class, and rightfully so. Duke will have to battle with Kansas and UNC, among others, in his recruitment, but Shabazz seemed to enjoy the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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Cook started off slowly, with some turnover troubles early on. However, he soon readjusted, and he excelled in DC Assault’s transition offense. After he settled down a bit, the turnovers diminished and his handles tightened up. Cook has no problem with the ball in his hands, using an array of crossovers and spin moves to get around his defender. One of his favorite moves is a spin move to right, transitioning into a pull-up jumper which he used effectively. There really wasn’t anyone on the opposing team who could contain him. His free-throw shooting was also good, but he struggled from long range. Although he excels in transition, he sometimes tries to make too much happen in the half court set and can run into trouble if he drives into multiple defenders. However, he can finish with either hand and has a varied repertoire of offensive moves off the dribble. Defensively, he had no troubles keeping up with quick guards and even snagged a couple of rebounds away from the opposing team’s front line.

Bottom Line: It seems that Quinn is much more of a combo guard than he is a traditional point guard (a la Nolan Smith). He is a gifted scorer with great ball handling skills, but he lacks size at 5’11. Regardless, Cook is a high major player who will excel in a system that thrives on transition offense. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s getting heavy interest from UNC. Look for Cook to remain on Duke’s radar, but with the stable of guards already on the roster, it seems unlikely that Duke will be a major player in his recruitment.

Marshall Plumlee (Center – Class of 2011)

Saturday’s matchup with Long Island Lightning was definitely not one of Marshall Plumlee’s best games for Indiana Elite. Still, we could see flashes of what makes him a high major recruit. Plumlee is very vocal on the court, constantly calling out help defense and screens. His length can be a big issue for the opposition, but during this game, the other squad constantly took it to Plumlee and the Indiana Elite frontline with great success. Marshall could be a little more assertive in using his height and agility to grab boards, and in this game, the smaller Long Island bigs managed to pull down a lot of offensive boards. Naturally, comparisons need to be made to his older brothers, Mason and Miles. All three brothers share their uncanny agility and athleticism for near 7-footers. This was apparent in Marshall’s game today when he surprised the defense by storming to the rack and finishing with a two-handed slam. From what we saw, however, he might not have the same kind of ups as Mason and Miles, but he is also slightly taller than them, being a legitimate 7’0. As a result, Marshall is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket center instead of a F/C combo like his older brothers. He has a go-to move in a spin into a baby hook that he attempted a few times this game. At this point, however, he is pretty lanky and can still be pushed around by opposing bigs. Also, like his brothers, he has the tendency to pick up cheap reaching fouls, which caused him to sit for most of this game in foul trouble.

Bottom Line: Marshall still has a ways to go before his body is ready for the college game, but he’s definitely got the potential to become a very good player. Although Duke has already taken a center in Tyler Adams in the Class of 2011, the Devils should not be discounted in Marshall’s recruitment. The fact that his two older brothers have had very positive experiences thus far in their careers is undoubtedly an important factor that Plumlee will consider. That said, playing in the shadow of two older brothers may be something that leads Marshall away from Durham. Look for Duke to remain in the mix for MP3 until it’s all said and done.

Other Names to Watch

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see all of the guys on Duke’s radar playing at T.O.C. Some of these included:

  • Andre Drummond, a 6’9 PF/C in the Class of 2012. Ranked near the top of his class by most recruiting services, Drummond has been likened to a younger Amar’e Stoudemire. Andre, a Connecticut native, has been on UConn’s watch list for quite a while. However, in light of recent allegations against Calhoun’s program, Drummond may be looking to go elsewhere.
  • J.P Tokoto, a 6’6 SF in the Class of 2012. Tokoto attended Duke’s first Elite Camp last summer and has been on Duke’s watch for quite some time. Tokoto, who hails from Wisconsin, also lists UNC, Kansas, and Kentucky, among others. Ole Roy has been in hot pursuit of Tokoto, presumably in anticipation of Prince Harriet’s early entry to the NBA. But don’t count Duke out yet: J.P. (which stands for Jean Pierre), like the aforementioned Alex Murphy, will be taking an unofficial visit today.
  • Chasson Randle, a 6’2 PG in the Class of 2011. Duke has recently reached out to Randle, and his recruitment is still in its early stages. But if the campaign to make Austin Rivers a Blue Devil somehow falls short, look for Randle to get a serious look from the staff.

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It looks like the summer of 2010 will be an eventful one in terms of recruiting (…wink wink). We’ll be doing our best to stay up to date everything. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact us at email@crazie-talk.com!

Baracket Busters: Devils Honored at the White House

It’s good to be the champs. Coach K and company were honored by the President this morning in the Rose Garden.

Obama took heat from many a Duke fan after picking the Devils to fall to Villanova in the Elite Eight in this year’s tournament. (Not to mention the fact that he correctly predicted that those other guys would win it all in 2009.) Nevertheless, Obama was quick to apologize to Coach K and the team.

Now, I know that all of you remember last year, when I filled out my bracket — I picked North Carolina to win it all.  It wasn’t anything personal.  Just trying to win some money.  I was right.  Coach K wasn’t too happy.  He basically told me to stick it.  Or stick to my day job, is what he said.

And then, this year, he went out with all these guys and he won, so he could come to the White House and crow about it.  (Laughter.)  Payback is sweet, isn’t it, Coach?  Congratulations on your fourth National Championship at Duke.

The President praised Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler for being the most productive trio in the NCAA this year. Obama referred to himself as the “second most famous person to ever show up in Medford”—Kyle’s hometown. The President also cited Brian Zoubek’s beard as an integral part of Duke’s championship run.

It’s a great day for Duke—the team, the program, and the school. We all should be so proud of what this team was able to accomplish this past year. You can check out video from the White House below.

Duke is De-Felixed

A day after Carrick Felix’s sudden de-commitment from Duke, mystery continues to abound as to who or what—exactly—was the impetus for the sudden change. Various college basketball outlets and message boards postulated that grades, tricky transfer credit issues, or even sheer distance from Idaho to Durham may have played into Felix’s choice.

But the likely cause is much simpler. The ubiquitously great blog The Dagger noted today that the return of Kyle Singler—and the concomitant effect of less available playing time at the small forward position—made Felix re-think his commitment to the Blue Devils.

OK. Playing time, the primal need of all blue-chippers, was the root cause. And we understand. You only get one chance to go from unheard-of JuCo star from the wild west to a high-flyer at a D-1 school. Felix is being realistic here. Coach K’s bench is usually short, with the rotation usually whittled down to seven or eight players by season’s end—the Title run is case in point.

And next year’s pool of talent is outlandishly deep. Even if Felix would have been Singler’s only ‘natural’ backup—he’s 6 foot 6—there’s no telling exactly how much burn he would get. Perhaps during Singler’s rest periods K would prefer to go small with Irving, Smith and Curry/Dawkins, leaving a combination of Plumtrees, Kelly and Josh Hairston to man the paint. It is foreseeable that Felix could be bumped from the lineup due to sheer plenitude of players, at least during the first of his three seasons of eligibility.

So, with K’s first JuCo recruit suddenly out of the picture, where does Duke stand? I’m not too worried about Kyle’s stamina—the Iron Man-esque performance he put on en route to Tournament M.O.P. dispelled the myth that Singler ‘tires out’ at the end of the season. As I said above, even with Kyle out of the game we will have ample speed and scoring ability with the five-headed guard core. The 2010-11 Devils will have plenty of firepower, Felix or no Felix.

The open scholarship also opens up options for the next two recruiting classes.We currently have two players in the truck for 2011: power forward Tyler Adams and wing Michael Gbinije. The coaching staff is also going hard after two of the top 5 prospects in the country—forward Quincy Miller and combo guard Austin Rivers. Many people, including Rivers’ AAU coach, think that the son of Doc will land in Durham. Miller is more nebulous, and his ties to John Calipari and Kentucky are strengthening.

Best case scenario, we land Miller and Rivers to go along with Gbinije and Adams. That’d likely be a top-3 recruiting class along with the hauls of Kentucky and UNC, each of which have already scored commitments from top-10 talents for 2011.

If Miller winds up in Lexington, we have another spot open for the 2011 class. I suggest we go no-holds-barred after 2011 five-star point guard Quinn Cook. Cook is from the Duke recruiting hotbed D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, plays in the famed DeMatha program, and is a close friend of Nolan Smith. So Cook has ties to Duke, and let’s be honest—Kyrie Irving will be in the position to jump to the NBA after two seasons in Durham. “Duke point guard” is a legendary title for an athlete, and Cook is a great option to pair with Tyler Thornton should Irving jet to the league earlier than expected.

So in the end, Felix’s surprise non-matriculation will not hurt Duke that much. The extra scholarship will be useful in the next two classes of recruits—2012 is particularly loaded at the wing position. Nonetheless, it is unfortunate that this didn’t work out. Felix will find his niche at some school—probably out west somewhere—but he probably won’t get the chance to play for a coach like K or for a team as high profile as Duke. I feel like Carrick would have earned a healthy chunk of minutes by the 2011-12 season, but perhaps the young man wants to start right away. We wish him good luck in his NCAA career.

Deviled Eggs: May 24th, 2010

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

Kyrie Irving Ghostwrites for Goodman

Last week you heard from top Duke target Austin Rivers. This week, our very own Kyrie Irving writes about his perspective coming into the season, his take on the championship, and the possibility of back to back titles.

G.Hill’s Redemption Song

Grant Hill’s play has been one of the main reasons the Suns have reached the Western Conference Finals. Although he’s been assigned the daunting task of guarding Kobe Bryant, Grant has had one hell of a season and continues to represent our university with pride.

Seth Curry: “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

For him? For us? Probably both. You can check out Seth’s interview with 620 The Buzz here. You can also hear 620 The Buzz speak with future Devils Josh Hairston and Kyrie Irving. The future is absurdly bright.

Paulus Now to Coach?

So two weeks ago, we mentioned that GP3 was trying out for the Super Bowl Champions.  While it doesn’t seem like that will result in a job, there are now rumors he is looking into an assistant coaching position at Mount St. Mary’s.  Greg was always a team leader during his time here at Duke, and we’re sure he would make a great coach.

One on One with Chris Collins

Coach Collins talks Nate, Coach K, and the 2010-2011 season in this great interview with Clint Jackson. We at Crazie-Talk would also like to give a special congrats to his father, Doug, who was recently named the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.  Best of luck in Philly!

Zoubs and Lance Reminisce

…thinkin’ of bliss of the good days. Tupac lyrics aside, these two interviews are two of the best I’ve ever read – from two of the most hard-working players I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. They gave everything they had on the court, and their perseverance was rewarded with the ultimate prize. Congrats to Jon, Lance, and Brian for an amazing four years at Duke. They’ve made us all proud to be Blue Devils!

Deviled Eggs: May 17th, 2010

Zoubek the Great graduated Sunday morning, along with Jon, Lance and Jordan. Oh and thousands of other kids did too... (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. You Don’t Know Seth…

…but his big brother Steph sure does. In this short interview, the former Davidson star (and the most recognizable Curry son—for now) calls Duke ‘a second chance’ for Seth after transferring from Liberty. Seriously, why didn’t big D-1 powers look at the Currys the first time around?

2. Austin Rivers Ghostwrites for Goodman

Apparently, college basketball bloggers love having Duke recruit Austin Rivers write for them. Our top 2011 prospect discusses a comparison to Tyreke Evans and his plans to improve his skills this summer.

3. Andy Katz says, “Duke’s #1”

Thanks, Andy. Duke is followed by two Big 10 20 powers, Purdue and Michigan State, in these very very pre-season rankings. I don’t see us budging from number one too much next season.

4. We ❤ Grant Hill

One of the elder statesman of the League still has it. And maybe a book is on the way? Good luck guarding Kobe, G-Hill! Go Suns, seriously.

5. Nolan Smith Wants It More

@Ndotsmitty’s championship ring wants a friend. Nolan is working out at the Accelerate Your Game facility outside of D.C. this summer, along with Kentucky’s erstwhile forward DeMarcus Cousins (who should probably just shut his mouth forever). Improved speed and vertical leap? Look out.

6. Josh Hairston joins Twitter

And the Duke army grows…If you have Twitter, follow @jhairston15! He has a great background.

Congratulations to LT, Zoubs, Jon and Jordan on their graduation! Hope you guys enjoyed listening to speaker Muhammad Yunus more than I did.

Deviled Eggs: May 10th, 2010

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs. They’re back, and they’re better than ever!

Here are this week’s best:

Austin Rivers Diary: On Duke’s Championship Banquet

Duke likes Austin Rivers. Austin Rivers likes Duke. Let’s make this happen.

GP3 trying out for the Super Bowl Champs

How hysterical would it be for all of his haters if Greg Paulus made an NFL roster? And that too, the reigning Super Bowl champions? The kid is alarmingly unathletic. Oh wait.

UPDATE: Greg impressed the Saints coaching staff enough to earn a chance to compete with former Mizzou QB Chase Daniel and Saints 7th round pick Sean Canfield for a spot on the roster (behind the pre-eminent Drew Brees). Congrats to Greg, and good luck GP2!

NBA Draft: Early Entry Deadline Winners and Losers

Obviously Duke won big with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler choosing to return for their senior years. But more than a few teams returned key contributors to already solid teams, most notably Purdue and Michigan State. National runner-up Butler did lose out on its brightest star in Gordon Hayward, but the Dec. 4th rematch of the two finalists should be more than entertaining.

Michigan State a potential ACC/B10 foe?

Duke is due for a home matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Izzo says it’s ‘probable’ that he and his pre-season number two team in the country will be making a trip to Durham, and we agree. But with the return of Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson there’s also the possibility of playing Purdue.  Regardless, Duke will be playing a fellow top three team this fall in the one and only Cameron Indoor Stadium. It should be fantastic.

UPDATE: We will play MSU according to Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports. Bring it on, Sparty.

Grant Hill: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

The first three time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award has made every one of his coaches and teammates gush about him. After a sixteen years in the league, Grant has finally made it to Western Conference Finals with the red hot Phoenix Suns. Here’s to hoping Grant can add to his already abundant collection of finger jewelry.

Nolan’s Court

This is absolutely hysterical, but watch out for some profane language. DUI and NdotSmitty are a match made in heaven.