Welcome, folks! We’re back at school, back to work, and ready for basketball season to start. We’re just under one month away from Countdown to Craziness (which will be on Friday, Octobr 14th)…and we’re pretty excited to get underway with the final season of our Duke undergraduate careers.
Our Blue Devils are back from their China and Dubai tour, and have settled into campus life. They seem to have been pretty busy – Marshall Plumlee (MP3) always seems to be chowing down at the Marketplace (I remember seeing MP1 at the Marketplace all the time during our freshman year, so it must run in the family), the “trio” of Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, and Kyrie have been reunited and have been working out together, and the one and only Nolan Smith has been spotted around campus as well.
While the players have been busy on campus, the coaching staff has been very, very busy on the recruiting trail – pursuing both high school juniors and seniors. Let’s take a look at some of these prospective Blue Devils – and when we might get a chance to see them in Durham in the next few months.
We’ll start with the current class of 2012: players who will enroll as freshmen next fall. This class happens to be loaded with big men, with seven centers and power forwards in the Top 10 of Scout’s latest rankings. With the graduation of Miles Plumlee and the possible departure of Mason Plumlee this spring, depth in the post will certainly be a need for Duke. Fortunately, the #2 prospect overall – Mitch McGary, a 6’10, 245-lb center from Wolfeboro, NH – has Duke as one of his favorites. A fifth-year senior at Brewster Academy, McGary got the chance to visit Duke, the team, and the staff this past weekend. His visit was the subject of his latest blog entry on ESPN Rise, which is well worth the read. He stopped in Ann Arbor to check out Michigan and visited UNC before spending the weekend at Duke. McGary seems to have enjoyed his time in Durham, but no decision has been made as of yet. Expect him to visit the rest of the schools on his list – which include Kentucky, Maryland, and Florida.
Check out some highlights from Mitch – he’s a big guy with a pretty impressive skill set.
Duke is also hot on the trail of- Shabazz Muhammad – the #1 overall player in this year’s class.
On Monday evening, the coaching staff had a chance to visit Muhammad at home in Las Vegas. According to an interview from DevilHoops.com, the visit with Coach K & Co. was “great”.
“He’s a real legend of the game, a hall of fame coach who can teach you so much. There’s no doubt that he can make you as good of a basketball player as you want to be.”
“Duke academics, they’re top notch, up there with the best universities in the country,” he added. “That’s a rare opportunity for anyone to get to go to a school like that and learn so much while playing the highest level basketball. That’s a really great thing about Duke.”
A silky smooth lefty wing from Las Vegas, Muhammad is being pursued by a bevy of schools, including Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas A&M, and UCLA. As of now, UCLA and Kentucky are supposedly leading, but this recruitment isn’t close to being over. In all likelihood, Muhammad will announce his decision during the Spring signing period. Duke obviously still has a horse in this race, but we’re not so sure that ‘Bazz will be wearing Pantone 287 when it’s all said and done.
That said, check out some of his highlights…the guy can play ball.
As if chasing the top two players in the nation wasn’t enough, the staff has been thoroughly evaluating three more players to complement Rasheed Sulaimon, a 6’3 guard out of Strake Jesuit in Houston, in Duke’s future class of 2016. Sulaimon, who committed to Duke in February, is now ranked as the #1-rated shooting guard in the nation. We’ve written quite a bit about him before, but he’s elevated his game to a new level – and is looking more and more like a player we call came to know and love – Nolan Smith.
Like Nolan, Rasheed has been an extremely vocal recruiter to other top prospects – especially 2013 guard (hat tip to reader Joey) Matt Jones, who plans on visiting campus with Rasheed for Countdown to Craziness in October. Jones, who hails from DeSoto, Texas, is also an elite-level guard who had an offer extended in June. Jones is also being pursued by Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Baylor, Florida, Indiana, and Louisville.
While we don’t really know a whole lot about him yet, we can show you some highlights that showcase his impressive athleticism and shooting ability.
Jones is also close with 2013 stud Julius Randle (another hat tip to Joey), who is also one of Duke’s top targets in the current junior class. We’ll go on about 2013 guys later on – for now, we’ll stick to 2012.
Rasheed has also been in the ear of Georgia big man Tony Parker, a 6’8 center from Lithonia, GA. Parker is the type of big man Duke hasn’t had in a long, long time – a big, strong center dedicated to grinding it out in the post. Both Tony and his family were very high on Duke early on, but Ohio State has made up some significant ground and is now said to be his leader. This seems only natural, with Thad Matta’s recent history with NBA-level big men (especially Jared Sullinger). However, Duke is still in the mix, as Tony plans on visiting campus on October 28th, the weekend of the first exhibition game of the season against Bellarmine.
Joining him on for the weekend will be his AAU teammate and close friend Alex Poythress, a 6’8 combo forward who has improved immensely over the past few months. Poythress’ athleticism and relentless motor make him a perfect fit at Duke – something both he and the staff have recognized. Alex, who reached out to the staff himself earlier on in his high school career, has also made it clear that academics are an extremely important part of his eventual decision.
Check out some of his highlights below – at least to us, it seems like he was meant to be a Blue Devil.
That’s all we’ve got for now. Thanks as always for checking in with us. We’ll be sure to break down the Class of 2013, which only has a few prospects so far, within the next few days!
If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or suggestions, let us know! We love to hear from all of you.