SDBB – 2017-18 Duke Associate Head Coach, Jeff Capel

By Bermuda Bob

Felton Jeffrey “Jeff” Capel III  is in his 7th season on the Duke staff, and 4th as Associate Head Coach.  Jeff was a Head Coach at VCU.  He then Oklahoma, lead them to 3 Big Dance appearances, and an Elite 8 appearance in 2008.  Overall, his coaching career is as follows:

  • 2000-2001 – Assistant Coach at Old Dominion …
  • 2001-2002 – Assistant Coach at Virginia Commonwealth …
  • 2002-2006 – Head Coach at Virginia Commonwealth …
  • 2006-2011 – Head Coach at Oklahoma …
  • 2011-Prsent – Associate Head Coach at Duke ...

Jeff has been instrumental to some degree of the recruiting of just about every player coming to Duke since he came back to Duke.  Then, once they are in a Duke uniform, Jeff would become integral to their players development.   Since he took over the reigns of Associate Head Coach to Coach K, he has seen Duke earn:

2015 National Championship

2017 ACC Tournament Championship

Capel graduated from Duke in 1997 with a B.A. in History.  In 2003, he married fellow Duke alumna, Kanika Réale Blue.  Their daughters are Cameron and Sydney.  Their son is Elijah.

Editor’s Note:

Capel’s wife is the daughter of Daniel T. Blue Jr., a Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate, representing the state’s 14th Senate District, and is the Senate Minority Leader.   He is also on Duke University’s Board of Trustees, and was elected chairman in 2009.   He was the first African American to chair Duke’s board.

Personal Trivia Note: 

Jeff and I share our birthday with Abraham Lincoln.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Grayson Allen

By Bermuda Bob

Grayson is a 6’5″ 205 lb. Senior Guard, who will again wear #3 this year.  Grayson returns as the sole Senior and sole Captain.

Grayson’s story exemplifies what it means to “be ready” and ready he was as a Frosh in 2015 when he was brought in off the Bench in the National Championship game against Wisconsin, dazzling everyone.  It caused Coach K to create a new award for the annual sports awards dinner,, called “The One Shining Moment” award.

Grayson has career averages of 13.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG.  His shooting average was  43.5% from the Floor, .38.6% from outside the Arch, and 83% from the Charity Stripe.

Grayson is a 3 time honoree to the All-ACC Academic Team.  He graduated Cum Laude from Providence School and earned an Advanced Placement Diploma.

Grayson has had a stellar stay at Duke, with the exception of his unfathomable spree of tripping opponents.  As he lost his Co-Captaincy last year, along with a suspension, there were many wondering if he would be re-named as Captain.  Gladly, he has earned back that honour in the eyes of Coach K and his assistants.

There were many expectations that Grayson might leave Duke last year for the NBA, but he has always noted that he promised himself and his family that he would graduate.  He also returned to reconstitute his reputation, and I’m sure every Duke fan hopes he can accomplish that before he graduates.

As may be expected, he is not only the Captain, but he must be the leader of this very young team where talent is superabundant.

Grayson is the son of William and Sherry Allen.

He is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and volunteered with Best Buddies, an international organization of volunteers that create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Antonio Vrankovic

By Bill Wheeler

Antonio was recruited to Duke by Nate James 2 years ago.  This year as a Junior, he is listed as a 7′ 269 lb Center who will again wear #30 for Duke.  Last season, Antonio played in 13 games, averaged 7.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG and 2.6 RPG.  From the bench, he was one of the most vocal leaders and maintained a great attitude.

Like his father, Stojko, Antonio fills out a solid physical like a statue.  Stojko played in the NBA for 5 seasons in the 1990’s and in 2 Olympics for Yugoslavia.

As Marques Bolden returns at Center and a strong roster of 5 Forwards, it is questionable Antonio will see more playing time.  If Duke plays big, then we may see Antonio play more minutes with the second group, however, he needs to improve his aggressiveness on Defense and Free Throw completions.  In a couple of games last year he showed flashes of his Defense and Offense skills on Blocks and Put Backs.  We expect the coaches to draw on his leadership in practice, and off the court to help out with leading the 8 Freshmen.

Antonio’s hometown is listed as Zagreb, Croatia; he was born in Minneapolis and is the son of Stojko and Lovorka Vrankovic.  He has two older sisters Andrea and Matea.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Jack White

By Bermuda Bob

Jack is a 6’7″ 226 lb. Sophomore Forward from Traralgon, Victoria, Australia, and will again wear #41 this year.  Before coming to Duke, he played on the FIBA Under 16, 17, and 19 teams producing respectable numbers.  He played High School ball for The Australian Institute of Sport.

Once again, Duke has one of the deepest rosters in college basketball.  Coach K tends to keep his rotations as short as possible, no more than 7 or 8 players.  Last year,that made it an uphill battle for a little heralded international player to get meaningful playing time.  I presume by now, that he is well aware of the situation.  The confidence he has in himself must be stellar inasmuch as Jack saw only 61 minutes in 10 games last year.

During the mass exodus after last season, there were some, like myself, who thought Jack might seek out one of the mid-Major schools who originally recruited him.  There was not a peep in the media about his looking to transfer, even if he is as buried on the depth charts as he was last year.  It reminded me of his quote I found last year.  Here it is:

“It’s a different path to what most Aussie kids take and that makes it a great challenge in itself, I have confidence I can play straight away but Duke don’t promise anything to anyone whether you are an international kid or a McDonald’s All-American.  That’s part of the challenge, working for your opportunities and proving what you have got.  It’s going to be a great challenge but one I’m ready for.”

In a pre-season video presented on GoDuke.com, Jack explains his mindset dedicated to being ready.  Here’s the link to it:

http://www.goduke.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?&db_oem_id=4200&id=6217005

So, again this year, I find Jack in Limbo on an even more talented team than last year.  I sure hope he is taking advantage of the Duke education being availed to him.

Jack is the son of Jeff and Rachel White.

He has a twin, Ben and a sister, Emma.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Justin Robinson

By Bermuda Bob

Justin is a 6’9″ 198 lb Forward who wears the same #50 as his father, San Antonio great, David Robinson. Even though he possesses an incredible wingspan, Justin easily fell thru the cracks by only appearing in 6 games thus far at Duke.

Justin first came to Duke as a “Walk On” because of his academic prowess. so for the 2015-16 season, he was Red Shirted.  Last year he was referred to as a Red Shirt Freshman but was an academic Sophomore.  This year he emerges as a Red Shirt Sophomore and an academic Junior.  Essentially, he will end up with a year of eligibility left after graduation, much like Sean Obi did this year, winding him up at Maryland.

Justin is the youngest son of “The Admiral” David and Valerie Robinson.  His brothers are Corey and David.  His father’s career in both college (Navy) and the NBA (San Antonio Spurs) are epic, and I’m sure Justin could recite them in his sleep, so I won’t bore you with them here.

“The Admiral” is a fixture at Duke games, especially those in Cameron.

Every Duke basketball fan I know has nothing but high hopes for Justin for this, and subsequent years.  He will surely get some still competition from the other upperclassmen, Jack White and Javin DeLaurier, at Forward.

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SDBB – 2017-18 Player Profiles – Jordan Tucker

By Bill Wheeler

Jordan Tucker is a 6’7″ 212 lb. Forward from White Plains, NY via Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia.  He will wear #5 at Duke this year.  He played for Archbishop Stepinac prior to moving to Georgia.  He was rankedthe #8 Forward and #40 overall player for 2017 by ESPN.  Rivals ranked him the #68 overall player.

Also recruited by Syracuse, he was recruited by Coach Jeff Capel for Duke.

Jordan is a Strong Forward and can score from the perimeter and around the rim.  Some scouts state he has the smoothest shooting strokes and may be the best shooter in the 2017 class.  On video he efficiently shoots the ball from all areas of the perimeter, and has good ability to drive.  If he can develop his defensive skills, then he may be a good addition to the starting line up.  It is expected that Jordan will be part of the playing rotation and he should be at Duke for at least 2 years to develop his skills.

Jordan is the son of Lewis Tucker and Lori Land.  His sister is Skylar.
In his official commitment announcement he said “… most importantly my father, Lewis, has been through it all with me. I hope I can make you proud over the next four years. One school has the right combination of great academics and basketball.”

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Gary Trent, Jr

By Bill Wheeler

Gary is a 6’6″ 209 lb. Guard from Columbus, Ohio via Prolific Prep in California. He will wear #2 at Duke.   He was ranked the #1 Shooting Guard and #7 player over in the 2017 class by ESPN.  He was ranked #17 overall by Rivals and the #3 Shooting Guard and #20 overall player by Scout.

Gary played USA Basketball, accomplishing the following:

  • 2015 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship – Gold Medal, averaging 12.7 PPG & 3.9 RPG
  • 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship – Gold Medal, averaging 16.8 PPG & 2.8 RPG
  • Most Valuable Player, 2016 FIBA U-17 Team …
  • Recognized as Gatorade Minnesota Player of the Year, and USA Today Minnesota Player of the Year as a Junior …

Gary stated at his official commitment announcement that said everything about Duke is top of the line and that  “Coach K wants me to come in as who I am and with my ego.”

He is a prolific shooter with a tendency to favor driving to his right before shooting.  Sometimes he fakes a step into his defender before going up for a shot. Gary is expected to  fill a void of scoring left by Jason Tatum.  He may play in a 3 Guard Line Up with Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval.  The question is how well he can defend bigger players if he is at the #3 spot.

Gary is the son of retired NBA Journeyman Gary Trent, Sr., who had his jersey retired at Ohio University, and was drafted 11th in the 1995 NBA Draft.  He played 9 seasons for various teams, then in Europe.  Gary sez he is thankful for the impact his father has had on his life.

Gary has 3 brothers, Garyson, Grayson and Graydon.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Alex O’Connell

By Bill Wheeler

Alex is a 6’6″ 171 lbs. Guard, from Roswell, Georgia, who will wear #15 for Duke this season. He was ranked #55 overall by Rivals & #66 by Scout.  He was ranked #85 overall & #20 among Shooting Guards in the 2017 class by ESPN.

Alex comes to Duke with a multitude of accolades culminating in his being named Atlanta/North Fulton Player of the Year, as a Senior.   Thus, he attracted offers from Louisville (before the scandal), Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Georgia.

Alex is athletic and can play at the #2 and #3 positions.  He has a quick release and is a good 3-Point and Mid-Range shooter facing, or falling away from the basket.  He can also play above the Rim.

At 170 pounds he needs to add muscle and weight.  In his own words “I need to improve my ability to play through contact.”  Possessing a need to develop his body and a desire to continue his academic career, we should have a chance to be seen at Duke for the next 3 or 4 years.

He was recruited by Coach Jon Scheyer.

Alex is the son of David and Crystal O’Connell.  He has 2  brothers, Shawn and Brady. Shawn plays Forward at Georgia Southern.

His family’s athletic genes include his father, David, who played basketball for Duke from 1973 to 1976.  His 2 uncles played at Notre Dame and Xavier.

He has a strong religious background, and stated in his commitment announcement:  “First off I want to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play basketball, and to compete at the highest level… I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and basketball career at Duke University.”

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Jordan Goldwire

By Bill Wheeler

Jordan is a 6’2″ 172 lb Guard who will wear #14 this year for Duke.

This young man is an interesting recruit for Duke, who was not highly ranked.  He has impressive highlights of with play-making skills, such as being able to penetrate the arc and passing the ball back, out, or underneath.  He has a good shot from all points on the floor and has defensive skills.  By his Junior or Senior year, Jordan may impress the Cameron fans with his solid ball handling skills.

Duke “… didn’t promise me anything, they said they needed another ball handler who would be able to run the second group. It’s a great opportunity for me. I would like to thank Coack K for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime … and continuing my academic career.”

Jordan landed offers from UNLV, Towson, Hofstra, Coastal Carolina, & Eastern Kentucky until Nate James and Jeff Capel came calling.  It didn’t take long for him to commit !!!

Jordan is the son of Courtney and Connie Goldwire.  He has a sister, Jaylen.  College Basketball run deep in this family with his cousins playing in college as well.  They are Devin Mitchell, who plays at Georgia State, and Jalen Mitchell who plays at Clark Atlanta University.

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Simply Duke Basketball – Introducing Duke’s Frosh: #53, Brennan Besser

SDBB - #53 Brennan Besser

As Coach K’s Freshmen-laden roster prepares for their first exhibition game on Friday night against Florida Southern, we’d like to introduce you to Duke’s Frosh for this season.

We’ll do it by the numbers … jersey numbers, that is.

So here is Bermuda Bob’s Profile of #53, Brennan Besser

Brennan Besser, a 6’5″ and 180 lb Guard, hails from Chicago, where he played at the Latin School.  He will join Nick Pagliuca as the other Walk-on this year.  His slot was made available to him once Justin Robinson was granted a full scholarship by Coach K.

As a High School Senior, he averaged 14.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG, and scored a high of 19 points in 5 games.  He shot a wonderful 64% from the field.

Before settling down to playing basketball full time, he additionally played golf his Freshman and Sophomore years.  Brennan is brother to 4 older sisters.

He will undoubtedly be a valued addition to Duke’s practice squad, as have his predecessors.

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