As it happened, I found myself in Hampton, Va. this past weekend attending the 70th anniversary of my father's portentous birth which brilliantly coincided ( thanks dad!) with the Boo Williams AAU Tournament. I was able to sneak out for a few bleary and hungover hours of bball watching on Sunday morning at 8am, when it was pretty much just me, a few members of the press, a few player moms and like every high major coach ( except Roy and K) you can think of in attendance : Cal, Izzo, Howland, Gottfried, Crean, Huggy Bear, Self...you name 'em. Anyway here's my take on a few of the guys Duke has a strong interest in, though there will be some Carolina overlap I imagine ( if Duke has offered these guys , you know Ol' Roy won't be far behind).
Ish Wainright - A Wainwright was, back in the day, a man who built wagons. A task, no doubt, for which one had to be a sturdy fellow, no matter how sporty the ride. If Ish had been building back in the day, his conveyances would have been big. Like the wagon equivalent of Hummers, big. Imagine the shoulders of Dwight Howard and the arms of Karl Malone on a 6'5" frame and you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about. His game is unselfish to a fault. He is a pass first guy on offense ( much of his team's offense runs through him flashing to the top of the key), but will, on occasion, attack the rim to great effect ( and when he does you don't want to be the rim or the guy in between him and it). He game is about defense, rebounding, and passing which would explain why the Duke coaching staff has told him they see him as a Shane Battier - type contributor to the Duke program. Like Shane ( before his senior year) and Nate James ( a guy with a similar build), this guy simply does whatever it takes for his team to win, provided that isn't scoring a lot of points. I did not see him take a jump shot or make a post move in the game I watched, but I saw him do everything else you can think of. He is not overly quick and has an odd, almost slew-footed running gait. He's a 3 who can defend the 4 due to his rather incredible 7'3" wingspan and his aforementioned strength. He said he and his parents were completetly blown away to talk to K ( he said his mom nearly dropped the phone) when he called to extend an offer, which has a lot of Duke fans feeling good about their chances. They've been there before though...
Theo Pinson - Theo ( class of 2014) is still waiting for a Duke offer, but unless Coach K has mysteriously decided he hates the idea of having a high motor 6'6" slashing wing who can score from anywhere, plays really aggressive defense, and is a very vocal leader, there will be one forthcoming. In the game I watched, Theo pretty much single handedly brought his team back from a double digit deficit by contributing positively in almost every way a player can. He had that I'm-not-going-to-let-us-lose-this mentality that Duke fans are used to and so desperately craved last year. Theo has great bounce and a very aggressive attitude on both sides of the ball.
Tyus Jones - This is a player that literally every high major program is/will be gunning for. His game against Ish Wainwright's team had the complete coaching cornucopia in attendance. For a rising high school Junior, this kid is as good as it gets. Everything you want in a point guard he's got : speed, vision, equally good in half-court or transition, decision making and size ( listed at 6'1" but I would swear he was 6'3"). The only thing I didn't see in evidence was his offensive game from outside, but, one game is too small a sample size ( he put up 38 in his next game, and I'm guessing some of those were probably jump shots). Good luck to Duke on getting this guy. And I mean it.
Julius Randle - This dude is just a scary monster of a beast of a player. He does everything you'd want for a guy of his size and build ( he is a biiiig boy, and I don't mean Tony Parker big) PLUS he's got a fantastic handle. There were even a few instances where he brought the ball upcourt and set up the offense. You will hear a lot of hype about him over the coming year and it's probably all deserved. Duke fans better start praying now that UNC doesn't get him if Matt Jones can't convince Julius to join him at Duke. Perish the very thought...
Matt Jones - This kid is going to be special at Duke. Universally regarded as the best shooter in his class, what I saw was a very strong, athletic guard with a great offensive arsenal. In fact , most of the points I saw him score were from 12 feet and in, so this guy is anything but one dimensional. He was better than advertised ( and taller. i think he's a legit 6'5") and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he ended up as the #1 SG in his class ( currently #4)
Semi Ojeleye - Who ? Exactly. I followed Wojo over to the Mokan/Southern Stampede game and stayed because I had no idea that anyone playing in that game was on Duke's radar. 3 minutes into the game I knew exactly why he was there. There was a powerfully built 6'7" kid who drained consecutive 3's to start the scoring for his team and then took the ball down inside for an impressive post move. Some guys just stand out in a crowd, and Semi is one of them ; impressive physically, skills-wise, and academically. His parents are both M.D.s and love the idea of him playing for Duke. No scholly has been offered yet but I would expect one real soon.