Okafor-Brimah Matchup Fails to Live Up to Hype as Duke Beats UConn

NCAA Basketball: Duke vs ConnecticutEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The highly anticipated Jahlil Okafor-Amida Brimah matchup never materialized as Duke handled UConn, 66-56, Thursday night at the IZOD Center.

Okafor, the presumed No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, went for 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the win. His night included a spin move on UConn’s Philip Nolan, a dunk and a staredown, as well as several nifty one-handed passes over the top out of the double-team.

Projected as the No. 10 pick in the 2016 Draft by DraftExpress.com, the 7-foot Brimah got into early foul trouble and was a complete non-factor in the game, finishing with no points and one rebound before fouling out. Brimah was coming off a 40-point, 12-rebound performance against Coppin State.

“Obviously, Okafor’s the best player in college basketball, it’s not even close,” one of the 39 NBA personnel in the building told SNY.tv. “And Brimah’s a long ways away. He’s really raw. Physically, he’s got a long ways to go. And then he has no offensive game, and he’s just a shot-blocker. He’s got a long ways to go as a player so they’re not even in the same class as players.” To read more of this story, click here

Coach K Believes Jabari Parker Established Himself, Would Have Been Rookie of the Year

Jabari Parker InjuredBy JOSH NEWMAN

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.Jabari Parker is done for the season with a torn left ACL, but Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has managed to find a silver lining.

His rookie season may be done after just 25 games, but at least the former Blue Devils star made a name for himself over that short span.

“The good thing for Jabari is, there’s been so many injuries with the rookies, but Jabari had 25 games or so where he established himself,” Krzyzewski said after the second-ranked Blue Devils defeated Connecticut, 66-56, at the IZOD Center. “In other words, no one wants that injury, but he has a reference point. His ownership, the league, his teammates, he knows he’s that good.”

“It’s sad because he was on his way to being Rookie of the Year of the league and the Bucks are doing so well.”

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25 NBA Teams Expected for Duke-UConn

Thirty-nine NBA personnel from 25 teams will be represented Thursday night at the Izod Center when Duke meets UConn, sources told SNY.tv.

The game is expected to feature a showdown of true centers when Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, takes on UConn’s Amida Brimah, projected as the No. 16 pick in 2016 by DraftExpress.com.

Asked if Okafor’s stock could take a hit if Brimah is able to contain him, one NBA scout said: “It will make no difference if he has any type of success against Okafor. It may help Brimah’s [stock].”

The game will also feature Duke freshman wing Justise Winslow, the projected No. 6 pick in 2015, and Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones the projected No. 20 pick.

Duke’s Rasheed Suliamon and UConn’s Ryan Boatright and Daniel Hamilton are also considered NBA prospects.

Duke practiced Wednesday at the Nets facility in New Jersey, but the Nets must swap their first-round pick in 2015 with Atlanta if the Nets have a higher pick.

The Knicks (5-22), of course, have the second-worst record in the NBA and currently have a 56 percent chance at a top-3 pick and a 20 percent chance at No. 1.

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Coach K Visits Tyus Battle, A ‘Critical’ Piece to Duke’s Recruiting Plan

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski visited Tyus Battle for the second time on Monday night, demonstrating that the 6-foot-6 Battle is a major priority for the Blue Devils going forward.

Coach K came to Gladstone (N.J.) Gill St. Bernard’s with assistants Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer to see Battle, ranked No. 14 by ESPN.com in the Class of 2016.

“We like a Duke a lot, what’s not to like?” Gary Battle, the player’s father, told SNY.tv after the visit. “They’re playing some great basketball right now. Coach K is very good at adapting to his players. Obviously, it’s a great academic school, that’s important to us, important to Tyus.” To read more of this story, click here

Coach K Says Tanking is ‘Stupid,’ But His Players Sure Seem Worth Tanking For

NEW YORK — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had just finished praising his potential one-and-done players Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones when he climbed down off the podium at Barclays Center and told me tanking for star players like them is “stupid.”

“It’s stupid to have it because one, you don’t know if you are going to get somebody and it’s a disservice to your fans,” Coach K told me after his No.-4 ranked Duke team beat Stanford, 70-59, to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Some 50 NBA personnel, including Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge and Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough, were in attendance.

About three miles away at Madison Square Garden, the dreadful Philadelphia 76ers had just fallen to 0-13 by losing to the Knicks,  a 4-10 outfit.

The Sixers players like Michael Carter-Williams may not be tanking themselves, but their front office has put them in a situation where they are threatening the NBA’s all-time record for futility.

“It’s a very murky puzzle at times,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said, according to the New York Times. “But I do think, despite our record, that I feel very good about where we’re at. I know that might sound funny when you look at the win-loss record. But the foundation of the system is in place.” To read more of this story, click here

Coach K, Johnny Dawkins Set for Reunion in Coaches vs. Cancer Final

Okafor DukeBy CHRIS RUSSELL

NEW YORK —  There will be a Duke reunion in tonight’s Coaches vs. Cancer championship game at Barclays Center.

No. 4 Duke, led by legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, will face Stanford, coached by Johnny Dawkins, Coach K’s former protégé.

“First of all, I’m proud of Johnny,” Coach K said after Duke beat Temple, 74-54, Friday night. “They’re an outstanding team. They’re big, they’re huge. Johnny has a really good system, how he uses them. I’d rather not play him. He’s part of our family. It’s too bad we have to play one another, that’s the way it is.”

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, had 16 points and eight rebounds in Duke’s win. Quinn Cook scored 17 points to go with five rebounds and freshman wing Justise Winslow tallied 15 points. To read more of this story, click here

Sixers, Knicks Set to Battle in Jahlil Okafor Sweepstakes

NEW YORK — There is no truth to the rumor that the winner of  Saturday’s game between the 3-10 Knicks and 0-11 Philadelphia 76ers will advance to face unbeaten Kentucky on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

But the loser of that game will take a step closer to possibly landing Jahlil Okafor in next year’s NBA Draft.

The Duke big man is the projected No. 1 pick in 2015 and, perhaps not coincidentally, he will be playing about 3 miles away from the Sixers and Knicks on Saturday when Duke competes in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center.

The Sixers and Knicks have the NBA’s two worst records and — along with 3-10 Oklahoma City — lead the Tankathon race.

Sitting at his locker at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday night after Duke beat Michigan To read more of this story, click here