banner
Bob Holliday

Duke, UNC recruits give strong showing at all-star games

Posted April 24

Joel Berry (11).  High School OT Holiday Invitational Shavlik Randolph Bracket matched up Kinston High School from Kinston, North Carolina and Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida.  Kinston was beat by Lake Highland by a score of 74 to 54.  (Photo by: Suzie Wolf/WRAL contributor)

— Let me begin with a disclaimer: the basketball you see annually on TV in the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American games bears little resemblance to a competitive college basketball game.

Fast breaks often go undefended. In the half court, you rarely see screens or backdoor cuts. Players do share the ball, but sometimes only after they see their one-on-one options shut down. Long jump shots fly quickly.

Defensively, players show good anticipation at times, jumping into the passing lanes, forcing turnovers, and of course, running to the other end. But you won’t see many players stop dribble penetration, over play the wings, or provide help in the post.

Under the boards, players are quick to show their athleticism to get rebounds. But box outs are definitely optional.

Having said all that, I felt like I learned some things from the 2013 games.

UNC’s Kennedy Meeks, for example, showed that he has good hands for a big man and can really pass the ball. NC State’s Cat Barber exhibited “cat-like” quickness on the defensive end in forcing turnovers and also showed he could score in transition. Jabari Parker demonstrated a well-rounded, all-court game, as well as a strong work ethic on the glass.

In short, sitting through those two all-star games, though difficult to watch at times, gave me some small insight as to what I might see in the coming ACC basketball season.

To that end, I rewatched the McDonalds’ game from early April in Chicago, and the Jordan Brand game that aired last Friday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, scene of the 2017 & 2018 ACC Tournaments.

Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA certainly have strong representation among the nation’s top high school stars. Again. But based on what I saw in the limited, style-oriented environment, North Carolina and especially Duke will see as much new freshman talent as anyone.

UNC
UNC recruit Joel Berry did not play in the Jordan game, but in the McDonalds’ game he showed some quick feet at the defensive end. In fact, I would say Berry’s on-ball pressure was about as good as one ever sees in these all-star games. He should help the Tar Heels’ perimeter defense and definitely will give Marcus Paige and Nate Britt some much needed help on offense.

It’s way too early to project exactly how Roy Williams will deploy Paige, Britt, and Berry at guard, but he will have good options.

To me, the player who could make the greatest impact for Carolina, based on this limited look, is Justin Jackson. This is a guy who runs the floor extremely well for a 6-foot-8 player. He can catch, pass, and shoot. Most importantly for the Tar Heels, he seems to have a well-developed mid-range game. You can certainly envision him filling one of the outer lanes on a Carolina fast break and doing damage from the wing. He can find the open man, and boasts a very quick release on his shot.

One negative: Justin Jackson is thin. Really thin. That could be a factor defensively.

Theo Pinson is another highly rated player committed to the Tar Heels. Pinson is just 6-foot-6, but plays much taller. Though he didn’t demonstrate much of a perimeter game in the two all-star contests, he did show great athleticism in attacking the basket, getting on the glass and blocking shots. He could be another force for Carolina on the offensive boards.

Duke 
Duke lacked a true center this past season. Next year the Blue Devils will have one.

Jahlil Okafor is not just a post player, but an athletic post player. He measures 7-feet, but appears to have the ball handling skills of a smaller player. Okafor can catch the ball, pass the ball, or put it on the floor and score. It remains to be seen how he’ll fare against an older physical center of similar size, but there aren’t many of those in college basketball. Okafor can rebound and block shots. He will run the floor as well as any ACC big man since Tyler Zeller.

One would think that Parker, who knows all about Okafor from their days together in Chicago, must have considered, at least for a moment, the possibility of staying one more year at Duke and playing power forward to Okafor’s low post. That would have been something.

The Blue Devils also get help at point guard.

Tyus Jones can pass the ball. Jones’ most memorable delivery in the Jordan game came from the sideline near mid-court, when he fired a one-hand bounce pass in traffic to a breaking Okafor for a dynamic dunk. But he also demonstrated an ability to draw the defense in the half court offense and find the open man for an easy score. We didn’t really see him run a five-man offense in the all-star games, but he showed that he can create opportunities in the simpler two- or three-man games, with the drive-and-dish or the drive-and-kick. He sees the floor really well and can pass in tight spaces. If defenses sag, he can score himself. I didn’t get a feel for how well he’ll play defensively, and obviously defense was an issue at Duke last year.

Grayson Allen, standing 6-foot-4, should give Duke some physicality in the back court. Allen comes across as a hard-nosed defender. Offensively, he looks for his shot, but certainly can pass. He gives the Blue Devils another perimeter threat.

It will be interesting to see how Mike Krzyzewski incorporates Jones and Allen into a backcourt that is already pretty good, with Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon.

To me, Justise Winslow did not have the same impact in these games as the players above. But he is definitely athletic, and at 6-foot-6, he will provide depth at the position formerly manned by one-and-done transfer Rodney Hood. Remember, in the several seasons prior to Hood’s arrival, Duke lacked small forward type players. Winslow could perhaps back up Amile Jefferson at power forward as well. Winslow should help on the boards along with Okafor and Jefferson, where the departures, of Parker and Hood will be felt.

Side note: On Tuesday, 6-foot-9 transfer Sean Obi announced he plans to enroll at Duke. Obi would become eligible the season after next. And, oh yes, Duke is still in the running for uncommitted 7-footer Myles Turner.

NC State
NC State, for the first time in the Mark Gottfried era, did not see one of its recruits selected for the McDonald's or Jordan Brand all-star games. But several hundred schools are in the same boat, and lots of them made their way into the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

I don’t want to rush the season, but we have less than six months until basketball practice starts. Should be an interesting year.

8 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Kenan-FlaglerAlumni Apr 25, 8:34 a.m.

    The Tar Heels will be a force next year and so will Duke. Go Heels!

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Apr 25, 5:57 a.m.

    Looks like Duke and Carolina are getting some much needed help in the positions they lacked depth this season. Looking forward to next season!

  • redrider249 Apr 24, 2:33 p.m.

    Maybe they could throw in a 5 minute spelling bee afterwards to see how good they really are...

    — Posted by moonpie

    Flop flop

  • modukev5saysbyebye Apr 24, 1:40 p.m.

    Ready for the basketball season to start.
    Can hardly wait.

  • moonpie Apr 24, 12:13 p.m.

    Maybe they could throw in a 5 minute spelling bee afterwards to see how good they really are...

  • keeter Apr 24, 11:27 a.m.

    McDonald's All Americans are overrated. Just ask Mercer...

  • Super Hans Apr 24, 10:44 a.m.

    NC State, for the first time in the Mark Gottfried era, did not see one of its recruits selected... View More

    Our State.

  • BlueDeviIs00 Apr 24, 10:37 a.m.

    Great analysis. I think Justise will show better in a team-oriented environment. He does all the little things, which are hard to come by in a freelance all-star game.

  • Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tomorrow at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

    Saturday at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Ole Miss at Arkansas

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • The Logan Zone

    Sunday at 11:30 am on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: NC State vs. Jacksonville

    Tonight at 7:00 on WRAL-FM

  • ACC Football: North Carolina at Duke

    Tonight at 7:45 on 620am

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Los Angeles

    Tonight at 10:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • HS Playoffs Round 2: Southern Durham at Cleveland

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
ECU
VULYNCH
 
7:30pm Tonight
DUKE
UNC
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
LAC
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
WVU
KST
7:30pm Tonight
DUKE
UNC
9:30pm Tonight
TXST
ARKST
Final
AKR 66
USC 46
Final
UCONN 65
COC 57
Final
MIAMI 66
DREX 46
Half
BC 36
NMU 30
 
Half
CHAR 40
PSU 34
 
1st
MICH 7
DET 4
 
7:00pm Tonight
WMARY
BFLD
 
7:00pm Tonight
USCU
BOBJONES
 
7:00pm Tonight
UCF
ECKERD
 
7:00pm Tonight
PURD
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
RFLSH
KEYSTONE
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
MDES
7:00pm Tonight
PROV
NAVY
 
7:00pm Tonight
BRY
UNH
 
7:00pm Tonight
PETE
NIAG
7:00pm Tonight
STET
PBAT
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAGN
SUNYWEST
 
7:00pm Tonight
IOWA
TEX
7:00pm Tonight
TENN
TXSOU
 
7:00pm Tonight
SHU
MLOWELL
 
7:00pm Tonight
ECU
VULYNCH
 
7:30pm Tonight
TENNM
CBC
 
7:30pm Tonight
SCAR
CORN
7:30pm Tonight
MD
FORD
7:30pm Tonight
WVU
GMAS
7:30pm Tonight
RAD
HOW
 
8:00pm Tonight
MURST
BRESCIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
VILL
BUCK
8:00pm Tonight
TENST
FISK
 
8:00pm Tonight
HARV
FATL
8:00pm Tonight
MINN
FRANKPRCE
 
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
NO
 
8:00pm Tonight
NW
UNF
 
8:00pm Tonight
LSUALEX
NWST
 
8:00pm Tonight
IND
SMU
8:00pm Tonight
UAB
SFLA
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
SOUTH
 
8:00pm Tonight
EILL
UCD
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
WINT
 
8:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
MRGST
 
9:00pm Tonight
NILL
IDAHO
9:00pm Tonight
VANDY
LIP
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LMU
9:00pm Tonight
ALA
SMISS
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
SYR
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
TXARL
 
10:00pm Tonight
GAELS
DEN
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
PACU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SDST
CALST
11:00pm Tonight
UCLA
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIN
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
NAS
7:30pm Tonight
MON
STL
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
TAM
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
DET
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
ARI
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
CHI
9:00pm Tonight
COL
WAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
FLA
8:25pm Tonight
OAK
KAN