To all of those who thought – hoped – that Mike Krzyzewski’s involvement with USA basketball would be a detriment to the Duke program, I bid a solemn apology. What Coach K has shown through leading the national program, is that his approach to the game resonates throughout the sport, to its highest talent. Respect isn’t given. It is earned. During his tenure at Duke, Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to 4 NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season titles, 13 ACC Tournament championships, and produced 27 All-Americans. Krzyzewski is also the coach of the United States men’s national basketball team, whom he led to two gold medals at both the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics. He was the head coach of the American team that won the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. But I will spare you the rest of the accolades, because, truth be told, it is about the future.
Current Blue Devils include 2 consensus top-10 picks in Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. Hopefully, for Duke fans, at least one comes back. Unlikely, but fear not, because the best recruiting class in the nation is on its way. Sorry, Kentucky, that run is done for you. Duke has landed the country’s top recruit, Jahlil Okafor, as well as the top-rated point guard, Tyus Jones. For good measure, they added 6’7” swingman Justise Winslow, another top-15 player. The trio became close during their time with USA basketball’s U-17 team that won the gold medal in 2012. Still think Coack K’s involvement with the USA team detracts from his commitment to the Duke team?
Admittedly, I am foregone the opportunity to travel and watch a ton of high school basketball. I do this all out of a passion for the game, research, and watch as much tape as I can. Thank goodness for the interweb! Here is what many hours spent watching footage of high schoolers, and annoying my girlfriend beyond all extent in doing so, has shown me.
Miles Turner, by some accounts, is actually the best prospect. I chose the word ‘prospect’ carefully. Jahlil Okafor is NBA-ready. If I could make a comparison, which I hate to do, Turner is Andrew Wiggins and Okafor is Jabari Parker. Turner may be better in five years. Okafor can start for an NBA team yesterday. Jahlil dominated Miles Turner every time they matched-up. He has range out to 18 feet, and a smooth stroke that should only get better with repetition. Unbelievably great hands! I mean, Torry Holt in a tank-top great! Dude catches everything. He knows what he is. He takes pride in being inside and dominating from 10 feet in, on both sides of the court. Also, he runs so smoothly. To the average fan, this may not matter; but, being 17, 6’11” and pushing 275 lbs, with a size 17 shoe, ain’t easy. Watch Andre Drummond run. Compare that to Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden. Shaq break-dancing is another example. You can’t train that. Humans aren’t made to move like that being so big. Okafor has it. I am not saying he is going to be the next Shaq. But I am saying, he will not be the next Oden or Bynum.
I was not impressed by Tyus Jones, to be honest. Until I spent creepily long hours watching him. He isn’t very quick. He isn’t very athletic. But, man, the kid is smart. Mid-range game is great for his age. He seems to never make the wrong decision. Capable outside shooter, which again, he has a good stroke, so it should get better with time. Easiest skill to develop [see Jason Kidd]. Very good passer, but a little too unselfish at times. Not a bad trait in a point guard. Very efficient. He gets the most out of his movements, both offensively and defensively. Good rebounder for a point guard, which allows him to get out on the break quickly. You know I hate the comparisons, but it helps people understand what I see. A big pot of Sam Cassel with a sprinkle of Jason Kidd. Not too shabby.
Luckily, these three played a lot together, so I was able to watch tons of Justise Winslow. 6’7”, 220, and athletic is an understatement. If this kid develops his skill set, watch out! Pouring through tape of him, I don’t really know what to say, other than I want him on my squad. He is a decent long-distance shooter off of a catch-and-shoot. He can handle the ball well, makes good decisions, and uses being lefty to his advantage. One thing that stood out to me, is that he was never caught in a defensive mismatch. He can guard anybody. A comparison for Winslow – and this one was easy – Shawn Marion.
Krzyzewskiville has a whole lot to sleep soundly to, anticipating the best incoming class Duke has had since 1999.