NCB On The Trail: Justise Winslow

In high school basketball, the best players usually concentrate on their offense because that’s how their teams win games. But there are several prospects who have the potential to be elite defenders. Let’s examine the five best defenders among the incoming freshmen and one from the Class of 2015.

1. Justise Winslow, Duke
Winslow has a college-ready body and mindset that will help him influence the game with his defensive prowess. His defensive versatility might be the best among the entire freshman class as the 6-foot-6 forward can defend point guards through power forwards. The athletic Winslow can be a factor in full-court pressure or trapping situations as well as in a straight-up man-to-man denial defense locking up, the opposing team's best offensive threat. What makes him a special defender is that he is always thinking about where he should be next on the floor. Winslow will be extremely important for Duke next season.

The Jordan Brand Classic featured much of the nation’s top talent.

Obviously, a number of players operate at the same position. That said, each brings a different aspect at the spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and break down how they are different and impactful.

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the 17th annual Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday, the USA team defeated the World team 84-73 for the first USA win since 2011. The USA squad featured a balanced attack as four players scored in double figures: Justise Winslow (Duke signee) led the USA team with 16 points, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Kelly Oubre (Kansas) each scored 14 points and Tyus Jones (Duke) added 13.

Let's take a look at what we learned from this year's Hoop Summit.

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CHICAGO -- Wednesday marked the 37th Annual McDonald's All-American game featuring the top high school boys basketball players in the country. The game took place at the United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Best low-post player: Jahlil Okafor

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CHICAGO -- The prestigious McDonald's All American Game annually brings together the best talent in high school basketball, all on one stage. Here are a few game matchups to watch for this year's star-studded event, which can be seen live on ESPN Wednesday night at 9:30 ET.

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Recruit and return: Duke 

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
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

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Roundtable: 2014 defensive standouts 

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
There are a lot of different ways to win in college basketball, but one of the few staples of virtually all good teams is a commitment to defense.

Ironically, good individual defenders never seem to get the credit they deserve, and that can even be true with the recruiting process. Standouts on offense are not only easier to recognize, they’re also easier to quantify with basic statistics. There’s also a popular sentiment among college coaches that they can teach a player to defend if they have the proper physical tools.

The reality though is that college-ready defenders are perhaps even harder to find than college-ready scorers or playmakers, which should in turn make them that much more valuable. With that in mind, we went back to our team of RecruitingNation experts and asked them to pinpoint the defensive game-changers in this year’s ESPN 100:

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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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HOUSTON --- The Fonde Hall of Fame Games is a two-day, eight-game high school showcase, with each game named after a former legend that played in the prestigious Fonde summer league. Greats such as Otto Moore, Major Jones, Purvis Short, Rickie Winslow, Dave Lattin, Elvin Hayes, Calvin Murphy and Moses Malone all had games named in their honor, which featured tremendous talent from Texas and from other parts of the country. This event was directed under the leadership of former NBA star John Lucas.

Here are a few performances that stood out.

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Basketball is played right through the new year, so as we look back and plan ahead let’s take a look halfway through this season at which 2014 prospects have performed best in 14 categories.

1. Best in the low post: Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young), Duke signee
If a team needs to score a basket in the lower half of the painted area, Okafor is the one to pass it to. He has secure hands to catch almost any pass and a soft touch with superb footwork. He also has a wide mobile body to seal his man and the patience to throw the ball back out and re-post his 7-foot-3 wing span.

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Finding the perfect ESPN 100 blend 

December, 19, 2013
Take a look at the top teams in the country and you’ll find a plethora of approaches. There’s varying styles of play, a broad range of coaching philosophies, and even vastly different levels of experience within their rosters.

But take a closer look and you’ll notice one of the only true commonalities is in regard to the way in which each roster is built. They’ve all got a dynamic offensive player or two, scorers or playmakers to serve as the pillars of the team’s offense, but those guys are then surrounded by complimentary pieces, or what Seth Greenberg has dubbed “blend players,” who buy into taking on less glamorous roles for the good of the team.

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Video: Duke jumps to No. 1 class

November, 29, 2013
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
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's RecruitingNation Top 40.
Justise Winslow, the No. 14 prospect in the ESPN 100 and one of the few difference-makers left on the board, announced Thursday he would attend Duke over UCLA, Arizona, Florida, Stanford and Texas A&M.

Why did Winslow pick Duke and how will he fit with the Blue Devils? Let's break it down.

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