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Duke lands Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker is one of the most sought after high school recruits in the country, and Duke just landed him for their program.

Jabari Parker, the nation’s No. 2 senior, committed to Duke during a news conference at his school Thursday.

Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Simeon Career Academy, chose the Blue Devils over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.

Although hats representing all five schools initially were situated on a table in the Simeon gym, Parker pulled out a Duke long-sleeved T-shirt while announcing his decision.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has had good luck with recruits in his native Chicago. He also landed Jon Scheyer (Glenbrook North), Sean Dockery (Julian), Michael Thompson (Providence) and Corey Maggette (Fenwick) from the area.

“What brought me to the decision is, of course, the history,” Parker said. “Duke was always going to be a team in the tournament. You can’t go wrong at the program. And most importantly, the long-term investment — I feel if I go there, I can get a good degree.

Check out the interview above from this year’s Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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How did Arizona beat Duke?

Arizona Wildcats players celebrate during their NCAA West Regional college basketball game against the Duke Blue Devils in Anaheim, California March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Derrick Williams played a nearly perfect first half, and then his supporting cast played a nearly perfect second half.

It’s really that simple.

If not for Williams, Duke might have blown Arizona out in the first 20 minutes. The sophomore forward went 8-for-11 from the field (5-of-6 from 3PT) for 25 points to go along with six rebounds, three steals and a block. That’s all in a half, people. Not a game. A half. His deep three as time expired cut the Duke lead from nine to six, and gave Arizona some momentum heading into intermission.

One category that coaches and statheads both look at is offensive efficiency, which is the number of points per possession that an offense scores in any given game. Since each offensive rebound starts a new possession, one stat I like to look at is the number of points per trip. In the second half, the Wildcats scored 55 points on 35 trips, or 1.57 points per trip. The sign of a good offense is generally 1.0 point per trip, so Arizona’s work in the half was nothing short of outstanding.

Arizona missed just 16 shots in the second half (making 21), but gathered 12 (twelve!) offensive rebounds, so along with three turnovers, the Wildcats only had eight scoreless trips in the second half. That means that they scored on 27 of their 35 (77%) trips in the final 20 minutes. That’s a truly an amazing half of basketball.

Arizona made nearly all its open shots and hit several tough leaners and fadeaways that aren’t typically high percentage shots. They took care of the ball — remember the aforementioned three turnovers — and made every correct decision when Duke’s defense came over to help or trap.

That said, Duke still had a chance to make a run with about six minutes to play. The Blue Devils cut the lead from 14 to 11 and forced an Arizona miss, but Nolan Smith couldn’t convert a semi-tough layup to get the lead under 10. Had that shot gone in, the pressure would have been back on the Wildcats, and the game might have been tighter at the end. But it didn’t fall and Arizona went on a 5-0 run to push the lead back to 16. Wheels off. Game over.

Grant Hill responds to “The Fab Five”

In the ESPN documentary “The Fab Five,” Jalen Rose and his teammates made a few comments about the Duke basketball program. The most inflammatory was that the black Duke players were “Uncle Toms.” Grant Hill’s name was brought up, and Hill has since responded via the New York Times’ college sports blog.

My teammates at Duke — all of them, black and white — were a band of brothers who came together to play at the highest level for the best coach in basketball. I know most of the black players who preceded and followed me at Duke. They all contribute to our tradition of excellence on the court.

It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men like Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (general manager of the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan), Thomas Hill (small-business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth), Kenny Blakeney (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) and Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) ever sold out their race.

To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous. All of us are extremely proud of the current Duke team, especially Nolan Smith. He was raised by his mother, plays in memory of his late father and carries himself with the pride and confidence that they instilled in him.

Well said, Grant.

In a recent column, FoxSports columnist Jason Whitlock took the Fab Five to task for saying such things:

The Fab Five clearly believe Coach K and Duke didn’t and don’t recruit inner-city black kids, and they believe race/racism/elitism are the driving forces behind the philosophy.

Let’s go back to the Fab Five era and Duke’s philosophy then. Coach K recruited kids who had every intention of staying in school for four years. He recruited kids who had a good chance of competing academically at Duke and could meet the standardized test score qualifications for entrance.

The Fab Five stated it was their intention to win a national championship and turn pro as a group after their sophomore season. Webber, who was recruited by Duke, left Michigan after two years. Rose and Howard left as juniors. Impoverished inner-city kids have good reason to turn pro early. I’m not knocking Webber, Howard and Rose for their decisions. They didn’t fit the Duke profile at the time.

During the three-year run of the Fab Five (one season without Webber), Duke beat Michigan all four times the schools met while winning two ACC titles and one NCAA title. During the same span, Michigan won zero conference or national titles. In addition, Webber’s interactions with booster Ed Martin put the program on probation and caused Michigan to forfeit all its games.

I think Coach K recruited and recruits the right kids for Duke.

It turns out that Jalen Rose was the executive producer of the documentary, so it would be tough to argue that his words were taken out of context.

A few random thoughts about “The Fab Five”

ESPN is currently running a two-hour documentary about Michigan’s Fab Five (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, and if you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend it. Webber didn’t agree to participate, but the interviews with the other four members along with members of the coaching staff were quite compelling.

Yesterday, the internet was abuzz with comments made by the former Michigan players about Duke and especially Christian Laettner, whom Rose thought was an “overrated pu**y,” until he actually played against him and saw that he had some serious game. I’ll leave those comments alone since Rose eventually gave Laettner credit, but there are a few other moments in the documentary that jumped out at me:

1. Rose hated Duke because they wouldn’t recruit someone like him; they only recruited “Uncle Tom”-type black players. He also admitted he hated Grant Hill because Hill grew up in a great home while Rose grew up poor with an absentee father. Rose probably hit the nail on the head with regard to why many inner city blacks resent/criticize suburban blacks; it’s out of envy. They see lives that are more comfortable than theirs, and they lash out in anger. The Fab Five translated this to a hatred of the Duke players, including guys like Grant Hill and Thomas Hill.

I suspect if Mike Krzyzewski were asked about his recruiting habits and answered honestly, he’d say that he had the luxury of recruiting players (of whatever race) that he thought would fit into his team-first concept. He already had a successful college program, so why recruit a ‘risky’ player like Rose who may or may not fit into what he’s trying to build? The last thing he wants is to have a to battle a player on a daily basis.

In the end, Duke was 3-0 against the Fab Five, so I’d say the Blue Devils got the last laugh.

2. Forget the shorts, shoes, socks or even the style of play. The thing that bothered me about the Fab Five was the in-your-face taunting. The film was great because it reminded me of what I didn’t like about the Fab Five. Their play was outstanding. Nobody hogged the ball and winning was paramount, so from a pure basketball respect, they were wonderful. It was all the antics that drove me nuts. There were several highlights that showed the players getting into the face of the opponent after the guy was just dunked on. It’s one thing to over-celebrate with your teammates, but to show up an opponent like that is just bad sportsmanship. This was explained away as being part of the inner city playground culture, but my guess is that if they would have gotten into someone’s face on the playground, they would have been punched in the nose (or worse). At the time, officials didn’t really call taunting technicals, so there were no consequences to those actions. Oh, and Juwan Howard was the worst. Webber or Rose would dunk and there comes Howard, getting into the grill of the guy who just got dunked on. It was no surprise that against Ohio St. in their first Final Four, Howard got headbutt to the nose at one point in the game.

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