Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski held his first-ever #HeroesHangout Monday morning, speaking to seven members of the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga., Fort Carson, Colo. and Garmisch, Germany.
In a 25-minute conversation with the soldiers, Krzyzewski addressed the topics of leadership and teamwork as well as the important relationship between the armed forces and USA Basketball. Directly after the hangout when he met with The Chronicle for their annual exclusive interview, Krzyzewski said the hangout showed him the new ways technology can help him to maintain a close relationship with members of the armed forces. Check out Krzyzewski’s first #HeroesHangout with soldiers from around the globe:
Krzyzewski graduated from West Point in 1969 after playing four years under then-head coach Bob Knight. He went on to serve in the Army for three years, earning the rank of Captain.
Serving as co-moderator for the #HeroesHangout was Duke’s former Director of Basketball Operations, Chris Spatola. Spatola also played college basketball at Army before serving and earning the rank of Captain. Since leaving Duke, Spatola has pursued a broadcasting career with CBS.
Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson run drills at Fort Bragg in October 2012. (Chronicle File Photo)
Krzyzewski has turned to the armed forces as an example throughout his coaching career. The Blue Devil head coach took his team to train at Fort Bragg last fall, and during the hangout he mentions the time his U.S. Men’s National Team spent with the military before departing for the 2012 Olympic Games as one of the pivotal moments in the squad’s development.
Rasheed Sulaimon will represent the U.S. in the upcoming U19 World Championship. (Photo by Elysia Su/The Chronicle)
Sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon will represent the United States at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. Sulaimon was one of 12 players named to the team’s roster, which was released early Tuesday morning.
Chicago product Jahlil Okafor and Houston native Justise Winslow—Class of 2014 targets who have received scholarship offers from Duke—both made the roster as well. Okafor and Winslow are the team’s only two rising high school seniors.
The squad will be coached by Florida head coach Billy Donovan. Assistant coaches include Virginia’s Tony Bennett and VCU’s Shaka Smart.
Sulaimon won a gold medal for the United States in the U18 World Championship, where the 6-foot-4 guard averaged double figures.
Following the conclusion of the team’s training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., the final U19 squad will relocate to Washington D.C. for three days of at the Washington Wizards practice facility. The 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship is set to begin June 27.
The nation’s top high school talent converged on Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend for the 20th annual NBPA Top 100 camp, which featured three of Duke’s Class of 2014 recruits. Forward Kevon Looney was one of the weekend’s stars. The Milwaukee, Wis. native impressed on both ends of the floor, as the 6-foot-8 forward showed off his ability as an inside presence and a dominant shot blocker. Take a look at some of Looney’s highlights from the showcase:
Looney’s play drew the attention of ESPN Senior Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep, who was on hand.
Kevon Looney don't care if you're 7-0 or 6-0 he's attacking that rim. Bad man right there. #NBATop100
After allowing his parents to correspond with coaches, it appears Looney—the No. 9 player in the Class of 2014 according to ESPN—is starting to take control of his recruiting process. Looney has yet to cut his list of schools, but Rivals ACC Recruiting Analyst Clint Jackson tweeted that when he spoke to Looney, the forward mentioned Duke, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and Georgetown among his suitors.
Looney was named to the camp’s All-Star team along with fellow Duke target Devin Booker. A 6-foot-5 guard, Booker is rated the No. 16 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. But Booker suffered a high ankle sprain on the second day of the showcase, ending his weekend early.
. @DevinBook high ankle sprain – Done at @Top100Camp – impressive week – good opportunity now to rest up for a grueling July viewing period
In addition to showing off his skills on the court, Booker used some of his free time to go 1-on-1 with one of the showcase’s coaches, NBA veteran Andre Iguodala. Playing against one of the NBA’s top defenders, Booker showed off stepback jumper.
As Booker’s recruiting process continues to heat up, it appears he may be taking a trip to Ann Arbor soon for an official visit at Michigan.
BBall: Devin Booker, No. 16 on ESPN top 100 rankings for 2014, reportedly will take official visit to Michigan.
As the weekend wore on in Charlottesville, coaches across the country were allowed unrestricted communication via phone call and text message with Class of 2015 recruits for the first time.
Jackson said one of Duke’s first calls was to 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman, a center from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, the same program that produced Shabazz Muhammad, a former Blue Devil target who will likely be a lottery pick in next week’s NBA Draft.
First day of 2015 contact, Duke reached out to 7-0 C Stephen Zimmerman. Super skilled and agile center.
On the other side of the country, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow competed alongside Duke sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon at the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. Suiting up against a number of players who already had a year of college experience presented a challenge for Okafor and Winslow, but it was one that the highly-touted rising seniors would rise to meet.
Both Okafor—the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 according to ESPN—and Winslow—ranked 15th—were among the 16 finalists to represent the United States in next month’s U19 World Championship. Sulaimon was named a finalist as well.
Sulaimon and Winslow are both Houston natives and were teammates on the AAU circuit with Houston Hoops. Winslow’s connection with Sulaimon—coupled with Sulaimon’s stellar freshman campaign—is an intriguing backstory to the 6-foot-5 forward’s recruitment.
Headed out to USA trials with the big bro @sheed_ctmd1. Gotta represent for the H!
Okafor’s desire to play alongside top-rated point guard Tyus Jones in college is one of the worst kept secrets in this year’s recruiting cycle. But recent speculation that Winslow may want to jump in on this recruiting class’ most prestigious package could be legitimate. In an interview with Adam Zagoria last weekend, Winslow said that playing in college with Okafor and Jones is “something [they] talk about.”
Although both Okafor and Winslow added that their college choices would ultimately serve their own best interest and nobody else’s, Winslow’s addition to this package would turn college basketball’s biggest recruiting sweepstakes into some sort of mega-millions jackpot. Baylor, Duke and Kansas are the only three schools that remain on Okafor, Jones and Winslow’s lists.
Former Duke forward and NBA Draft hopeful Mason Plumlee worked out for the Washington Wizards Wednesday. The Wizards hold the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft, which will take place two weeks from today at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Plumlee appears to have been working heavily on his mid-range jump shooting in the months leading up to the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-11 forward was predominantly a post scorer during his days at Duke, but showed a soft touch with his jumper in his Wizards workout, even stepping out to knock a few down from 3-point range. Check out highlights of Plumlee’s Wizards workout, courtesy of Monumental Sports.
Okonoboh is ranked the No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2014 by ESPN and holds a slew of scholarship offers from top programs, including Indiana and Syracuse.
Born to Nigerian parents, Okonoboh’s uncommon first name is inspired by his father surviving a gunshot at close range the week before he was born. Okonoboh tells the story of how he got his name in a video feature with fivestarbasketball.
Grayson Allen remains the Blue Devils’ lone Class of 2014 commit. Duke has also extended scholarship offers to Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Kevon Looney, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker and now Okonoboh.
Okafor—ranked the No. 1 recruit in his class by ESPN—is Duke’s priority in terms of post players in this year’s class, but as the recruiting battle for his services heats up, it appears the Blue Devils are broadening their horizons as well.
The Blue Zone will be running a summer series bringing you the latest on some of Duke basketball’s former stars. This week, The Blue Zone takes a look at Trajan Langdon.
Trajan Langdon’s basketball career is one of the more interesting to revisit. Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, a young Langdon was forced to shoot hoops as a child in snow boots and gloves, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the best 3-point shooters in the school’s history.
After a lengthy career in Europe, Langdon is now a scout with the San Antonio Spurs. (Chronicle File Photo)
Langdon’s story begins before he took his talents to Durham. Langdon’s first professional sport was actually baseball, as the San Diego Padres selected Langdon in the sixth round of the 1994 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. While playing basketball at Duke, Langdon was spending his summers playing in the Padre’s farm system. A third baseman, Langdon logged 186 plate appearances over three seasons, but he hit just .176.
Due to the salary he was taking in from the Padres, Langdon was not a scholarship basketball player for the Blue Devils, making him technically a walk-on. Regardless of his status, Langdon was a major contributor immediately for Duke. As a freshman Langdon started 24 of 31 games, averaging 11.3 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting from long range. After his impressive freshman season, Langdon missed the entirety of his sophomore season due to a devastating knee injury.
Langdon returned from his injury better than ever, starting every game for the rest of his collegiate career and being named to the ACC First Team as a sophomore, junior and senior. His senior season was especially notable. Langdon averaged 17.3 points per game and was named a First Team All-American. Langdon lead the Blue Devils all the way to the Championship game that senior season, but after a stellar performance fell just short of leading Duke to the title.
In 1999 the Cleveland Cavaliers made Langdon the 11th overall selection in the NBA Draft. The sharpshooting guard barely saw the court as a rookie, playing in just 10 games with Cleveland due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. As a sophomore, Langdon got significantly more burn, playing in 65 games—five starts—and averaging 6.0 points on 41.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. In his final season with Cleveland, Langdon played just 44 games, averaging 4.8 points per game.
Langdon didn’t draw significant interest following his three-season stint with the Cavaliers, and thus took his talents to Europe and joined Benetton Basket Treviso in Italy. Averaging 15.3 points per game over the season, Langdon led Treviso to the National Italian Cup title. After a stop with Efes Pilsen in Turkey—where Langdon continued his international succes by winning the Turkish National Championship—the Alaskan Assassin took his final shot at the NBA when he joined the Los Angeles Clippers for training camp. Langdon played sparingly during training camp and was waived before the season began.
It was after his failed attempt with the Clippers that Langdon made his move to Moscow, where he would play basketball for the remainder of his career. Langdon logged six seasons with Euroleague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, where he put together one of the best careers an American has ever had in Europe. Langdon’s club won the Russian National Championship all six years he was with the team. In 2006 and 2008 CSKA also won the Euroleague title. Langdon was Euroleague Final MVP in 2008 and All-Euroleague First Team for both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons after making the Second Team in 2005-06.
Now, at 37 years old, Langdon is done with his professional basketball career, but he has not walked away from the game. Langdon served as an advanced scout for the San Antonio Spurs this season, opting for the front office route as opposed to the coaching route. Langdon spent most of the season traveling along the east coast, watching both NBA and NBDL games. Langdon’s Spurs are now playing in the NBA Finals, leading the Miami Heat 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.