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Watzone's Pickup Report!

As many of you already know, the dog days of July bring about pick-up games during the Duke Basketball Clinic. The clinic featured wide-eyed kids from all around the country. I overheard that one was from Mexico and another
from England, which is a testament as to how popular the Blue Devils are, not only in our Nation but worldwide.

A lot of former Dukies return for this event, acting as counselors. This years bunch featured
Alaa Abdelnaby, Marty Clark, Nate James, and Chris Carrawell just to name a few. Then there are the many ex-players who visit, like Jeff Capel who is know coaching at Oklahoma or
Quin Snyder looking as dapper as ever. The biggest draw though was a recent player
by the name of J.J. Redick, the Orlando Magic's eleventh pick in the draft, adding to K's record for the most lottery picks in NBA history.

He visited one evening and was swarmed by adoring fans. I was about to say kids swarmed him, but you could see many parents in the throng along with the vultures known as professional autograph seekers, who'd sell a piece of his gum had he spit it out on e-bay.

Jon Scheyer with the no-look pass!

The JJ shock wave didn't stop there. One picture I took for my blog was quickly picked up by young ladies at, which is worth a look should you get the chance. The picture was good for about 375 hits in one night and you would have thought I'd captured a rock star, as I could almost hear girls passing out on their keyboards. FWIW, they are now hooked on Josh.

Coach K himself signed autographs one evening, greeting each person, looking at them eye to eye, trying to convey what this clinic tries to achieve, but more on that later. This is after all a family event, and it isn't long before you see many of the fine people who make up Duke Basketball in every crook and corner. There is a lot of love as K's daughters choose to help out, and the offspring of classy assistant coaches like Johhny Dawkins hang around. Heck, even the secretaries are involved by taking pictures or simply being
there with a faithfulness to their boss.

A further look around the well organized event will show the hard working managers, with walkie talkies in hand, communicating with Wojo or Collins, making sure things run smoothly, and more importantly safely. Mike Schrage runs the event with the precision of a drill sergeant, barking orders at the end of each evening for kids to get in their station lines. This isn't done because he or the staff are mean-spirited. This is done for discipline. Coach K demands discipline around him and he conveys that organization to campers, planting seeds of how to act and react in life.

After all, Coach K is all about building character in his players, which is evidenced as they go on with their careers, be it Jay Bilas at ESPN, Grant Hill in the NBA or Brian Davis being an upstanding local businessman. He instills a unity in them where the majority return to their home away from home, knowing that despite the demands of being the next Olympic Coach, or hitting the road for recruiting season, that he takes the time to see that each one is doing okay.

So, the Duke Basketball Clinic is about teaching youngsters to become young men ... not so different from what goes on with his own players. It represents a chance for kids to see their favorite Duke players that they'd previously seen on TV and allows them to soak up a winning atmosphere. It quite simply is a must do thing should you have a kid of age and I highly suggest any parent reading this try to get their son, or a deserving youngster to this event, because it just may make a difference in their lives and give them memories they'll cherish forever.

It's all about the D!

Now for the news on the freshmen and returning players that I was able to see in four days of action in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Before I start with individual thoughts on their games, I remind you that these are pick-up games. Nobody is coached, nobody goes to the line, no changes are made in the line up during games, and there is no ref or time clock. These events are raw, especially for the
freshmen who have never been coached by the staff other than mild suggestions or workouts. Despite that, if you have a good basketball eye, you can get an idea of what a player can potentially do, and I will attempt to
whet your off season thirst.

I was originally going to cover the last night of the games for DBR, but since they ran only four and McRoberts, Nelson and Thomas or Pocius did not participate, I will give individual thoughts.

Before I do so, Lance Thomas was due in today. He had been playing for his country, Team USA in the U-18 event which was held in San Antonio, Texas and where the US won the Gold medal behind several future Blue Devils. If you want more on that, take a look over at BDN, where articles remain.

I will start with Josh McRoberts, a player that we hope anchors our front line next season. Josh showed no signs of worries
here and while he only participated two nights, he showed off a more slender physique which enabled him to move quicker. The thing I really like about McRoberts' game is his passing ability for a big man. He often fed his teammates to wide open looks and passed ahead when he had the opportunity. He handles the ball very well and is capable of bringing the ball up the court if need be. He had good range on his outside shot, and was active on the glass, relishing his role as a go-to guy.

He was a bit surprised by freshman Brian Zoubek on the first evening and was showed up a little early on, but the second night was all his and he schooled the freshman in the first two games. As always, he threw down some McNasty dunks and did I tell you how the girls from are swooning over him?

I spoke to DeMarcus Nelson and he said he was 85% right. He had a minor slip, but I don't need to tell you that there was no need in pushing it, so he sat out the next evening. When he was in there
he showed a desire for more leadership, despite his generally quiet nature. He played solid on ball defense, and showed off his athletic ability. One evening he was nailing the jumpers and twisting through the lane for a slams.

He was most often matched up with Henderson, and the two put on a great show. Markie has been unfairly criticized on one bulletin board from a person that saw him play a half a game and the usual glass is half full bunch jumped on the bandwagon. All I can say is I think the guy is a solid cog in our prospects and I think they are a bunch of worriers. Yes, he has a little trouble overcommiting on the dribble, but let the all time California HS leading scorer get his legs back under him and play in a few more games and be coached before somebody passes
judgment on a player that won the Carolina game a couple of season ago.

Greg Paulus did not play well in the first few games, but he came out with a vengeance on the last two and was the star last night. There was one stretch in which he went 6 of 7, hitting shots from many different spots on the court. He slashed by Davidson and created plays and was in charge as would be expected. After losing his first two games on the first evening, Greg improved each time out thereafter and many of the people who chided his abilities in reviews must keep in mind he is coming of surgery, where he played injured much of last season. You can't watch a single night of games and make a grounded assessment, and Greg Paulus being the PG was getting use to several new teammates. Greg will be fine.

Dave McClure told me he was still getting his confidence back and that he was still afraid to go all out. Well, the rest of his game which is long forgotten by many, evokes memories of a better shooting Brian Davis, meaning that this player can fill many roles. He has a well rounded game which is not flashy, but consistent and plays within himself. I am not sure what role McClure will play for K's forces, only that he will indeed contribute as he continues to heal. He has range on the outside and lulls the opposing player asleep at times.

Jamal Boykin bangs the heck out of the boards and was forced to play a little 7-2 freshman two nights in a row. Yep, Boykin get a lot of the dirty work and makes a living on garbage baskets by staying with the play. Wait a minute, garbage baskets ... is there such a thing? I'd think K will take all those he can get in a real game. He has a rather flat looking shot, but can be accurate up to fifteen feet. He sometimes get lost getting back down court when he attacks the glass, but will sure as heck hustle to get into any play. While he doesn't have great leaping ability, he threw down the most thunderous dunk of the evening last night. He seems to have grown an inch and I call him 6-8 from afar.

Jordan Davidson surprised me with his play and he will be a thorn for Paulus in practice. He can hit open looks and run a team if there is a pinch, but he was slightly guilty of not letting up game point with some pretty hard hacks.
Hacks were pretty prominent in these games though, especially when it came to Zoubek.

Brian Zoubek is a 7-2 center that was clearly the surprise of this year's team. He was injured much of last season, unable to line up against the like of Hawes in AAU games. He surprised Josh McRoberts,
showing a nice drop step, tenacity while staying with his shot, even when missed and I hope he is a good free throw shooter, because he came away the most hacked player in the games, often drawing double teams.

He calls for the ball, but needs to learn how to kick it out to the open man when draped. His footwork was very surprising to me, in that he is no stiff. He possesses a nice hook, not seen nice the G-Man days and while he doesn't block a bunch of shots, he is capable of some serious help defense and presents a body that is hard to get around. He can be beat off the dribble, thus need to work with Wojo on that, but the pros far outweighed the cons in his game. I don't think he starts, but he definitely plays and makes an impact from day one.

Jon Scheyer is so unselfish that I think he'd give his last piece of pizza to his worst enemy. That is pretty amazing in that he was a scorer in the Chicago area, being named POY. That tells me he can play and is able to defer until it is his time. He has a sweet stroke from the outside and very surprising defense where he anticipates the passing lanes well. He has a good handle and can throw some pretty darn good passes, see the no look pass in the picture. It looks like the staff knew what they were doing here and that recruiting service that ranked him in the seventies lost a lot of cred after my viewings.

Lastly, there is Gerald Henderson, a quiet yet effective and fairly polished player. I will get the sparse negatives out in that I think he could work on spacing and he sometime goes quiet in the game. That is not often though, as he slammed home several dunks, played above the rim, showed that he was ahead of the curve on defense, has a nasty cross over and a nice outside touch. I see this kid in the line up from day one. Associate HC Johnny Dawkins was seen talking to him individually, and with that kind of tutelage, well the future is bright. Hendo's NBA genetics will help and K generally does well with said players.

So, it looks like we have another promising team and an interesting set of pieces of a puzzle for K to work with, and we all know he relishes coaching teams that are being overlooked in the pre season. A trip around the net looking at early polls on many sites sees Duke 16 or below, all I have to say to that is Ha! We'll be a tougher out in March than anybody could have imagined provide their are no injuries. The players change, but Duke remains across the chest and
K still roams the sidelines, what more could a Devil ask for? This year's team should allow Kyryzewski a lot of options, and they seem to be a little deeper overall than last
season's outstanding club.

Now for the stat attack - Since 2000 Duke is 20-6 in the NCAA tournament, with 8 number one seeds, the Devils have 31 tournament appearances, 14 Final Fours, an 85-27 NCAA tournament record Coach K has 68 NCAA victories, which of course is first all time. His 68-19 NCAA tournament record is the highest winning percentage ever, his 753 wins is 11th all time, Duke has had eleven straight winning seasons, 419 players have 200 points or more in a Devils uniform, and we have had
several defensive POY's starting with Tommy Amaker, the Michigan Coach and ending with the Hawks Shelden Williams, and that group includes current AC Wojciechowski. Greg Paulus 1,127 minutes played as a freshman is sixth all time, 32.2 MPG is seventh as is his FT pct.
Josh McRoberts was 4th in blocked shot as a freshman. Duke will soon have 13 active players in the NBA, which is tops in the
nation. Last season, Dukies in the NBA earned more than any other alumni.

Notes- Lance Thomas was due in today. None of the injuries mentioned were threatening. The staff hits the recruiting trail this weekend during the open period of contact. For stories on each night of pickup and lots of great pictures illustrating the event, please visit The Blue Devil Nation, which is currently at, but can be accessed by weeks end by the call name. Thanks to those who have made the site a success in just three weeks time, where 15,000 plus hits poured in in one day and it is more popular than I could have ever imagined. I will continue to cover recruiting there, have interviews galore, and stories of our history. I have some
great stuff lined up and have a great author in Michael Corey who is doing some great work. There will be guest blogs from former players, and well you get the picture. I'd like to grow the site, so donations are being accepted to keep it free, and all money goes into upgrades with cameras, podcasting, and travel to major recruiting events. I will always post at DBR and will be doing a monthly recruiting column and more in the future for the Granddaddy site of Duke Basketball.