NCB On The Trail: Grayson Allen

Video: Duke recruit wins dunk contest

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
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video ESPN 100 No. 6 shooting guard Grayson Allen won the dunk contest at the McDonald's All American Game. The Duke signee clinched the crown by dunking over No. 1 recruit -- and future Duke teammate -- Jahlil Okafor.

Recruit and return: Duke 

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
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To return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Duke and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Tyus Jones
G: Quinn Cook
G: Rasheed Sulaimon
F: Amile Jefferson
C: Jahlil Okafor

Freshmen might be the talk of college basketball this season, but if you are paying attention you are starting to notice that experience counts.

The new No. 1 team in the country, Florida, starts a quartet of seniors in Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Will Yeguete.

The leading candidate for this year’s Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player is also a senior, as Creighton’s Doug McDermott is averaging 26 points and almoist 7 rebounds while shooting high percentages from the 3-point line, free-throw line and the field.

So while Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Tyler Ennis could all bolt for the NBA -- only to be replaced by the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones and Emmanuel Mudiay -- it might actually be others from the 2014 class, who might not necessarily have the same level of instant success, but nonetheless go on to make their mark on college basketball by staying longer and getting better at each step along the way.

Here’s a look at some of the most likely candidates:


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2014 ESPN 100: 10 things to know 

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
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video
Here are 10 things to know about the updated 2014 ESPN 100 player rankings.


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The McDonald's All American Game is annually the nation's most prestigious high school basketball all-star event. The rosters have been announced for the Class of 2014, and this year's game will once again be played at the United Center in Chicago and will air live on ESPN on April 2.

Here's a deeper look at five exciting matchups we'll see in the 2014 contest.

1. The battle of the giants
Jahlil Okafor (West) vs. Myles Turner (East)


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The Duke Blue Devils have the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2014 and the first player to commit in that group was Grayson Allen. Much has been discussed and written about ESPN No. 1 Jahlil Okafor , ESPN No. 4 Tyus Jones and ESPN No. 14 Justise Winslow but Allen has had a strong senior campaign.

Sitting at No. 24 in the senior class, let’s take a closer look at what Allen will bring to the Blue Devils.

Part athlete, part basketball player

Allen understands the game and has plenty of skill but what most don’t realize is that he may be physical ready as a freshman. Allen is a very good athlete with a vertical jump that raises your eyebrows -- which helps him tremendously as he tries to finalize a play and throw it down. He stands close to 6-foot-4 with a strong frame and room to put more muscle on. He has long arms which help when shooting, rebounding, defending and trying to block a shot. He’s a good blend of a basketball player and athlete who can use his physical tools to perform and produce.

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City of Palms Classic recap 

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The City of Palms Classic is, in my opinion, the best high school basketball tournament in the country. The field is always strong, the games are generally highly competitive, and the crowd is involved and boisterous. The 41st edition of the tournament was extremely good and full of high-level talent.

Here were some of the best performances from this year's City of Palms.

Best Player
Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
2014, SG/PG, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
Signed with Seton Hall
Whitehead is much improved and is one of the best guards in the country. He plays like a man among boys, and his ability to make plays for himself and others really sets him apart. He is more than capable of playing point guard at the next level and beyond. He averaged more than 25 points per game at the City of Palms and rarely forced anything while leading Lincoln to a fifth-place finish.


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Video: Duke jumps to No. 1 class

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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video
Gerry Hamilton and Paul Biancardi analyze Duke's addition of No. 14 overall senior Justise Winslow. Winslow's commitment vaults the Blue Devils to No. 1 in the ESPN 2014 class rankings.

Duke announces top-ranked class

November, 21, 2013
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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the signing of four ESPN 100 prospects on Thursday, including two of the top five players in the 2014 class.

During the early signing period, which concluded on Wednesday, the Blue Devils landed three players: C Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young), the No. 1 overall player, PG Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley), the No. 1 player at his position, and SF Justise Winslow (Houston/St. John's), the No. 5 wing forward. The trio joins SG Grayson Allen (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence), who committed to Duke in April.

"We're ecstatic about the four young men that are coming to Duke," Krzyzewski said. "Grayson Allen committed to us very early. We believe he's an explosive wing. Terrific offensive and defensive player. We consider Jahlil Okafor as good a big man as there is in the country, but not just a big man, we think he's a great basketball player. He's had an amazing amount of experience playing for the United States and for a great high school program. In Tyus Jones, I think we have the best point guard in the country. Someone who has won state championships, USA championships and is the consummate leader on the court. Justise Winslow is a great wing player. He is a guy that can guard every position and is an amazing rebounder and scorer. The great thing about all four of the kids is that they want to share a spotlight and they want to be on a great team. They're team first guys, even though they have this excellent amount of individual talent."

The Blue Devils have the No. 1 class in ESPN.com's RecruitingNation Top 40.
With seven ESPN 100 commitments in as many days, the last week has been incredibly busy on the recruiting wire, but the best could still be yet to come with Reid Travis, Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all likely to make decisions in time to sign during the early signing period, which begins next week.

In case you missed any of last week’s headlines, here’s a rundown: Devin Robinson chose Florida over Indiana on Wednesday; later that night, big man Michael Humphrey picked Stanford over Arizona; Devin Booker started a busy Thursday by picking Kentucky over Missouri; James Blackmon Jr. pulled a surprise by spurning Kentucky to recommit to Indiana; Kevon Looney’s commitment to UCLA was equally surprising, with most predicting Duke, Florida or Tennessee; former UCLA pledge Trevon Bluiett picked Xavier over Butler and Michigan State on Friday; and Trey Lyles chose Kentucky over Louisville on Tuesday.

That flurry of activity, along with the upcoming announcements, has brought more clarity to a lot of top national programs. Here’s a look at some of the implications:


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We’ve been talking a lot about class rankings in recent weeks. North Carolina and Ohio State have both been in the lead at various points this year while strong finishes from Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and even Baylor could put them all in contention for the top spot before it’s all said and done.

With that in mind, we took a speculative look at those six programs, breaking down what they would likely need to get to the top of the mountain.

Duke
Probability of finishing on top: 45 percent

ESPN 100 SG Grayson Allen might be the only prospect currently in Mike Krzyzewski’s incoming recruiting class, but the Blue Devils have as many top prospects left on the board as anyone. They’ll host Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones this weekend, along with Justise Winslow, leading to speculation that they could be on the verge of a massive package deal. They also remain in the mix for Myles Turner, Kevon Looney and Reid Travis. If they land Okafor and Jones, they’ll have a good chance of finishing in front. If they can add Winslow, Looney or Travis, their chances will be even better. If they could ever put Okafor, Turner and Jones in the same group, the rest of the class would be gravy. Suddenly we’d be talking about one of the best recruiting classes ever.


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#AskCoachB: What's the 'plan'?

October, 9, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



I see you are watching Recruiting Nation because you made reference to the "plan", which is how I describe the Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones recruiting situation. There are only three schools who can land Okafor and Jones and they are Baylor, Duke and Kansas, with Duke and Kansas being the favorites. Yes, whoever land this duo would have the best shot at being No. 1 in the class rankings.

Let's look at Kansas first: Today's commitment of ESPN’s No. 10 prospect Kelly Oubre to Kansas puts the Jayhawks in a viable position to land the nation's best class. If they do get Okafor and Jones it would then give the Jayhawks three top-10 players, including the No. 1 player in Okafor. Cliff Alexander was in attendance for “Late Night in the Phog” with Oubre, and the Jayhawks are also pursuing Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and JaQuan Lyle. Landing Okafor, Jones and one more of the prospects above would make Kansas No. 1.

As for the Duke Blue Devils, they already have No. 24 Grayson Allen, a sharpshooter from distance who plays with defensive toughness. If they land Okafor and Jones with Justise Winslow, it could make this group the nation's best. All three are visiting Duke on Oct. 25. Kevon Looney and Reid Travis are also still available, and both have shown great interest in Duke.

If Okafor and Jones shock the world and go to Baylor it could make things very interesting as far as the No. 1 class is concerned.

Kentucky is still in play for Okafor and many other top players such as Turner, Stanley Johnson, Winslow, James Blackmon Jr. and Devin Booker. I don't know if the Wildcats will have the No. 1 class when the smoke clears, but I do know it will be another stellar class for John Calipari.

Of course we have to crunch the numbers and use some analytics to determine our class rankings. When the musical chairs of recruiting stops and we actually see who goes where, then we can determine a winner.

Who'll end up with 2014's top class? 

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
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With only eight of the top 20 prospects in the ESPN 100 currently committed and a number of high-profile national programs like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke all still looking to make their mark in the Class of 2014, there is still a huge amount of unpredictability with only five weeks before the early signing period.

With major dominoes like Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Cliff Alexander and Tyus Jones all yet to drop, the only certainty is that there will be major movement to our ESPN class rankings before it’s all said and done.

With that in mind, we asked our team of experts to give their take on which team will end up on top when the smoke clears:

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On Thursday, we examined the last 10 national champions in order to determine if recruiters put too much emphasis on potential one-and-done prospects.

What we found was that unless those prospects were once-in-a-generation talents like Carmelo Anthony or Anthony Davis, the answer may be yes.

So if college coaches shouldn’t be investing so much time on potential one-and-done prospects, who should they be focused on?

Recent history tells us that NBA-caliber talent should still be put at a premium, but likely the type of talent that needs two, or ideally three years of seasoning in the college ranks first. Experience is especially true in the backcourt where there is a clear correlation between championship caliber teams and experienced ball-handlers/decision makers.

With those findings in mind, we went through the current ESPN 100 and looked to see who could possibly be among the best juniors in the country three years from now:


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In the latest edition of the 2014 class rankings, there are three new additions (Vanderbilt, Miami and Michigan), while VCU, Xavier and Providence made big moves. Here's a look at one team making its move, one team that needs to pick it up, and what to watch for in the next week.

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