Category: high school sports

What’s Next For Duke?

Duke has been Duke for 30 years now. While that is a big boost dealt from Coach K’s success and the program he’s built over that time, I do have my doubts about the success of recruiting in the future with the team under Jon Scheyer starting in 2022-2023. This time will test the strength of the brotherhood. The brand Duke has sold to recruits over the Coach K era. His departure not only marks a new time for the program, but all of college basketball. 

Coach K’s Olympic experience brought legendary connections. Sure those same connections can pass down to his staff but not the stripes, the stories, or the love so many NBA players have developed for the long-time coach.

Duke’s switched its formula for developing talent over 3 or 4 years to a top tier 1 and done school. The list starts with Jabari Parker in 2013 and continues to grow as long as a Walgreens receipt. Their latest class hosts guys who sniffed 2022 mock draft boards before their high school graduation. 

Paolo Banchero, the number 2 recruit in the 2021 class, is a near-lock for the draft even with a below average season. AJ Griffin’s in a similar boat thanks to translatable measurements and a top 10 billing. Their final 5 star signing Trevor Keels has the makings of an NBA bucket getter when you factor in his frame and knowledge of where his game produces best though it may take him a season or two longer to leave than the latter two. 

With the addition of 4 star Jaylen Blakes, we’re looking at the number 4 recruiting class in the nation. This group will conclude an almost 10 year run of top 5 classes under Coach K, which includes 4 top 3 classes and 3 number 1s. Scheyer was the lead recruiter on several of their top classes including Zion Williamson’s 2018 group and the program’s most recent star studded class.

The current coaching staff has been there for the ride. Scheyer’s joined in 2013, Chris Carrawell in 2018, and Nolan Smith in 2016. They’ve made connections with younger classes yet there are no crystal balls slated for the Blue Devils in the top 30 of the class. According to 247Sports, the guys in Durham have only offered two scholarships. One to Dariq Whitehead, who 247Sports is predicting Florida State as the leader, and who I believe would be successful in a professional option. The other offeree is 7’1” Dereck Lively II out of Westtown School in Pennsylvania.

Duke’s known to hold its offers late. The prestige of the program, the draw of Coach K, and for some a dream of playing at the school is enough to make all other schools’ efforts mute. However, the 2022 class is so loaded with talented players looking for professional options or a stage to call their own it may be harder than ever to pull them away from starting their biggest goal making a living playing a game they love.

Scheyer’s got his work cut out for him. Because Coach K’s farewell tour may be the biggest media circus we’ve ever seen for a coach, they’ll continue to have visibility. What the coming interviews, montages, and staging media outlets can do to tell the story of the winningest coach in college basketball history is limitless. The benefits that come next will unfold in front of us as Scheyer’s tenure begins.

The Traveling Hooper Takes on Motown


Michigan is the land of the magical big. Giant point forwards who would be considered unicorns if they were in the NBA today. Each armed with game changing athleticism, great court vision, and a whole lot of grit. Don’t let their flashy play fool you, their roots made them tougher than the average hooper.

Michigan is the home of NBA greats Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, and Ralph Sampson. These game changers stretched their skills beyond what the normal constraints of their position. Their careers transcend their generations and inspired the like of Draymond Green and Kyle Kuzma to play past their size.


With historic schools like Michigan and Michigan State within hours of some of nations top recruits these schools have continued to keep talent at home. There historic pulls include most of the players listed above and the list continues to grow with young NBA talent like Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine.

The future shines bright for more than just the young guns in the NBA and it’s lead by top recruits likeRocket Watts Jr.Romeo Weems and Terry Armstrong. The high school athletes mentioned are projected to be major contributors at the next level and have their entire senior seasons to improve their resumes. They display attributes from players of yesteryear including athleticism and toughness. Romeo Weems at 6″6 even shows a passing ability similar to another Detroit native, Jalen Rose, in his younger years.


Toughness pours into their games especially on the defensive end. Their tape is filled with dynamic blocks and steals. Watts even displayed lock down potential against an opponent result in a rare 5-second violation.

A not so surprising revelation appears in all of their games, a jump shot. Each of the prospects have made strides to become respectable shooter and for Watts in particular is nearly dead eye with token defense near him and down right zone busting when left open. Their games jump out as more similar to Gary Harris than their Hall of Fame predecessors. All three are have garnered interest from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.


With obvious talent in Michigan’s front line, the opportunity to make another legend is well under way. There’s even such a storied history that players at any position can mold their games after their home state hero. Who knows maybe in twenty years a michigander can become the face of the NBA.

The Traveling Hooper Catches A Game In Cali

California by far has the most diverse hoopers this country has to offer. If you need a three and D wing you got it. If you need a pass first point guard, you got it. Need a super athletic person at any position, you can have your fill at each and every position on the court. This is the home of NBA legends Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, and Bill Walton different players but Hall of Famers all the same. 390 current and former NBA players call California home and that number continues to grow. The Golden State produces everything from Hall of fame talent to elite bench warmer.

California’s large pool of basketball players is star studded and yet no players is like another. Gary Payton, from Oakland, California was a trash talking dominant defender worthy of the nickname The Glove. The closest player to that profile is Kawhi Leonard who in temperament and build are nothing like Payton. Russell Westbrook’s insane athleticism has no connection to how Aaron Gordon uses his athleticism except for their incredible dunks, but even their flair is different. Even players who are related have a different take on the game for instance the Robin Lopez is defensive minded where Brooke Lopez will spend all of his energy on offense. California’s NBA talent might be the first state we’ve covered where no player has truly patterned their game after another local hooper.

Best Current Pro Hoopers: James Harden, Russel Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard

Hall of Fame Hoopers: Ray Allen, Don Barksdale, Gail Goodrich, Alex Hannum, Dennis Johnson, Jason Kidd, Vern Mikkelsen, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Jim Pollard, Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, George Yardley

Allen Pettigrew Jr. ~ Twitter: @killingdreams_


Unlike many of the states you’ll see think pieces and articles written about in Traveling Hoopers, California does not necessarily have a typical style of basketball that comes from there. You can get wildly athletic players from California like the now San Antonio Spur DeMar DeRozan, or you can get the not nearly as athletic player like Paul Pierce. That right there is what you get from every state, both sides of the spectrum. What tends to be different about basketball players from California though is that a majority of the time you can say no matter what the natural athletic ability of the individual is, California hoopers tend to hit the ceiling of their athletic potential.

You can say this might be the case for a couple reasons. One of the reasons may be that people in many different fields tend to go to California to make a name for themselves in their chosen field. Acting, singing, artistry, ect. Sports training and conditioning can be lumped into the same category. It is a career like any other and just like those other careers that I mentioned, if you get big and successful in the field of sports conditioning and training, you can be known throughout the world. California happens to have a reputation as one of the states that can help push you to the top. Another reason is the terrain they have in California. There are hills so big they look like mountains, beaches, and flat leveled ground. Just the beach itself for example can bring out the best in any athlete and with beaches so close around, many tend to take advantage whether it be in high school, college or even younger.

Phillip Dixon ~ Twitter: @PG_Anecdotes


Player Profiles

Kyree Walker

Kyree Walker played in Hayward California where it all started. Class personified as a great scorer with high class handles and a powerful dribble-drive game which he is constantly working on in his training videos. Walker excels at getting into the lane and finishing at the rim. He’s got the strength to absorb contact and is very creative with his shot, allowing him to score over length. He can play bully-ball against most perimeter defenders and is a lot to handle when he gets a full head of steam like a Russell Westbrook. He’s has good open court speed and does a good job of pushing the pace constantly putting pressure on the defense.

He can play more than just the two with the way he plays walkers sees the court well and is a natural playmaker who does a good job of collapsing the defense and setting his teammates up for open shots. Has a versatile offensive game and can operate at the point or play off the ball. He can be a lock down defender when he puts his mind to it and has all the physical abilities to excel on the defensive end. Walker is a very tough-minded kid


He tends to rely on his athleticism and speed but needs to slow down at times, so he can make the right plays at the right time. He can be too ball dominant and needs to do a better job of moving the ball and operating within the flow of the offense. Looking at his high school film sometimes against high competition school tends to get a little overwhelmed but the older he gets he will figure it out. He needs to work on his outside shot for the last touch of his game

Players Comparison: Dwayne Wade


Lamelo Ball

I love this kid has the potential to be best ball out of his 2 brothers which with him being the youngest has more time to develop but what the chino hill product can do is Effortless lights out shooter who has NBA range, and then some, Great form gets a high arch on the ball but has the with his deep range has great handles can pass the like no other. He plays with great pace and keeps the defense on its heels with how he always looking to push the ball up the court.

Lamelo is a high class ballhandler who has inherited a strong left and the ability to take it into the lane with either hand. He is fast and crafty with the dribble and has a quick crossover and a lot of shake n bake moves to get past his man. He can handle against pressure and has a quick change of direction to shake free in double teams and any situation. He does a nice job of drawing the defense and dropping it off to a teammate in the paint or kicking it out for a three.

His shooting ability is what separates apart from other prospects and makes him a legit NBA prospect more than his brothers. He can shoot from anywhere on the court but prefers to shoot in the corner. He pulls up for deep threes before the defense can step out to guard him and he can hit on a variety of runners and floaters all moves that make him an offense juggernaut at this level.


His weakness starts with his athleticism. Well his explosiveness and quickness are not top level like it should be. He also lacks size and strength which will come with his development and in the weight room. On the defensive side he doesn’t show any type effort which may decline his rankings but hopefully he figures that part of the game before it hurts his potential but once hasn’t shown that he can hold his position consistently especially when he was playing pro he had problem with bigger and quicker guards.

Overall, Lamelo has great upside and has shown he can be box office if he gets drafted. L has an all rounded game and like I said the best ball brother in the family.


Jaylen Mallard, SF

Height: 6’1

Offers: South Alabama, Southeast Missouri State, CSU-Bakersfield, Missouri State, University of Memphis

Rating: 3.5 stars

So, a little over a month ago, I tagged along with my little sister’s basketball team to a basketball camp. While there, I got to see some talented players. My plan is to do profiles on some of them as long as I can find some video of them.

That camp was the first time I’ve seen future D1 players in person. Ms. Mallard, is thus, the first player I’ve watched for all of two minutes and gone “that’s a D1 player”. It was my opinion, during my initial impression, that she was the best player there. I’m not so sure about that now, but she was the best player that day.

Jaylen Mallard’s game is predicated on her strength, she sets hard screens, has no trouble establishing position in the post, boxes out hard, and can power through contact. She has a nose for the ball and always seems to put herself in position to get a rebound.

Offensively she’s somewhat limited. She’s most dangerous out of the pick and roll, being able to finish with little difficulty. She seems to be bothered by length though, struggling to finish over taller defenders. Her move set in the post, while effective, is fairly basic. Her court vision is solid. Mallard may well have range to the three, but she basically never takes a shot outside of the post. She also almost never puts the ball on the floor. She is a talented offensive rebounder, this coupled with her abilities to establish position and force her way to the rim means it’s difficult to keep her from scoring. This All that said, it’s worth noting that her best offensive performance that I’ve seen was also the only one where she was a focal point of the offense.

Mallard does an excellent job of knowing where to be on defense, regularly putting herself in position to contest shot. Her footwork is solid, and she does a good job of staying in front of the offensive player. She is, however, a little slow on the close out, often she gets to the shooter just late enough to not have affected the shot. In fairness though, the need for her to close on a wide-open shooter is typically a result of the defensive collapse of teammates, and she usually has to come from under the basket to even try to contest the shots.

It’s my humble opinion that if she were to improve her shot and/or start incorporating it into her game more (whichever applies), offensively the game opens for her. I think she has the chance to be really good.


The Traveling Hooper Takes It Down To Oklahoma


Welcome to Oklahoma ladies and gentlemen! This state might be known more for its football players than its basketball players, but it is home to one of the bigger stars in recent basketball history. That player is non-other than dunk contest legend, Blake Griffin. With only 37 NBA players able to call Oklahoma home, there aren’t a lot of players who have made a name for themselves and others hoopers are still too young to say them same about them. Other professional basketball standouts include Wayman Tisdale, Ron Boone, and John Starks each known for their efficient scoring during their playing time. With a trend of 10 – 15 high level high school athletes receiving Division 1 scholarships there may be an uptick in NBA players from the state within a few years.

One thing that seems to be common with current and great Oklahoma alum are their elite athleticism. Terrance Fergusson, a walking highlight tape rose to fame in high school thanks to his amazing dunking performances on YouTube. Blake Griffin and John Starks both made iconic dunks during their careers with Blake jumping over the short end of a Kia or John dunking on Horace Grant and in my opinion Michael Jordan as well. Wayman Tisdale was labeled an athletic freak in his day and the Heat’s Josh Richardson throws down mean dunks when given enough space. There just may be something in those Oklahoma waters or a great weight training program across the entire state. I’ll let you decide which sounds more logical.

Allen Pettigrew, Twitter: @killingdreams_

I recently began going to AAU tournaments in Oklahoma and remember hooping in a few as a youngster. I saw tons of lanky, athletic with elite mid-range shots especially coming off the pick and roll. I had the pleasure of watching this kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jaycson Bereal who is signed to Bosie State. At 6’8” he’s longer than the Grand Canyon, block shots and attacks the rim like no other. He’s an athletic defender, a gifted passer, and a very talented Oklahoma hooper. You’ll find plenty of guys with a similar skill set at a genesis or lifetime fitness gym if you ever hoop in the area. Oklahoma hoopers flock to these gyms and if you’re ever in the area don’t say I didn’t warn you if you get dunked on.

Levi Washington, Twitter: @4thlegendz

Best Pro Hoopers: Blake Griffin, Wayman Tisdale, John Starks

The Traveling Hooper – Welcome to the MO

Missouri Hoopers are SMOOTH! With relatively limited athleticism Missouri hoopers are known for their crafty play. Most aren’t physically dominant but are more than capable to get to their spot when they need to. The average Missouri hooper is pretty fundamentally sound. Armed with basketball IQs that range from benchwarmer to highly touted role players that understand the importance of jumping off the left foot and finishing with the right hand. Most are more interested in the long ball than mixing up in the middle. For those blessed with handles expect a beautiful pull up jumper. The area north of the Mason Dixon line is more known for creating their own offense off the dribble. This is where you get your Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal’s from. South of the Mason Dixon line you’ll find your more tenacious defenders like Tyler Hansborough(retired) or your 3 & D guys like Otto Porter (we’ll talk more about these guys in another article). Hoopers who take the game serious understand the importance of defense but their pride and joy comes from getting buckets and making offensive highlights.

Allen Pettigrew Jr. @killingdreams_

Unfortunately, when it comes to the training and the training style of Kansas City Missouri basketball coaches, a ridiculous amount of lazy coaching, preparation and mentorship comes into play. I just want to make this clear, not all coaches and mentors but way too many. If you were to go to an AAU tournament and watch teams that comes from Kansas City Missouri, you would see a solid amount of decent to good athletes playing what they believe is to be structured, sound, intelligent basketball that is preparing them properly for the collegiate level and above. This is the problem though. They are playing the kind of structured basketball that they believe will only take them so far. No actual coaching is happening. Just kids spacing the floor and taking their man one on one off the dribble with no ball movement. Hardly anyone is even teaching these kids how to properly execute off the pick and roll, let alone actually learn to defend one. That is why you end up seeing kids for example move from schools like Raytown South High School in Raytown, Missouri to prep schools in Virginia (Ishmail Wainright top 100 prospect in 2013 turned professional football player). At some point, this decently structured basketball that they are playing built around their decent to good athleticism will only take them so far. Kansas City Missouri to a large degree tends to take their best basketball athletes to only step 3.5 out of 5 when it comes to the development of their basketball skill. Other states do much more to help develop the youth and that is why many leave for now. Kansas City Missouri has the potential and resources to change this perception but people in powerful positions and influence who have made it to the promise land, must come back and step up. Simple as that.

Phillip Dixon @PG_Anecdotes 

Best Pro Hoopers: Jayson Tatum, Otto Porter, Bradley Beal

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Traveling Hoopers Coming Soon!

Yo, what’s up Hoopers! We’re a group of basketball enthusiasts giving you a guide to playing basketball anywhere in the US. This page will be releasing posts dedicated to how basketball is played across the nation. We will be highlighting the play of hoopers in all 50 states. We’ll cover everything from trash talking to organized amateur games. The posts begin shortly after the NBA Draft so give us a follow and stay tuned!  Image result for rucker park gif

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