Leaf Gets Duke Offer; Eyes Early Commitment

Five star power forward T.J. Leaf was hoping Duke would offer when we sat down with him at the USA Basketball U17 tryout. Hours later he spoke with Mike Krzyzewski and received a scholarship offer from the Blue Devil head coach.

Note: This interview took place two hours prior to Leaf speaking with the Duke coaching staff and receiving his offer.

Seemed like today went well for you on the court TJ…

T.J. Leaf: Yeah, it went really well. I played very well today I think. I rolled my ankle actually the day before pretty bad, so I taped it up today and I played on it. I felt good out there.

What’s it like competing with the best of the best to have a chance to travel to Dubai and represent the USA?

It’s always an honor to come here and play against the best both within our class and the class before us. I’m hoping i’m good enough to make the team. It’s exciting knowing we are going to Dubai and everybody here including me knows it’s a great opportunity to come here and compete to have a chance to represent the United States. 

How would you describe your style of play TJ?

I’d say a three-four or four-three, and I feel like i can play a variety of positions on the floor. I can guard anybody but I also feel like I can take people off the dribble and i can guard in the post too. I did so many different things today here at camp, I can’t really say i have a certain position or guy that I’m really similar to. 

What’s your current height, weight, and wingspan?

I actually was just measured here yesterday and I came in at 6-foot-9 and a half, 216 pounds. That was with shoes for my height and my wingspan is to 6-foot-11. 

In college, what’s a good offensive and defensive system for you in your estimation?

I think a system that switches everything. I feel like that’s where I can really help because I can switch off and guard different kinds of players. With offense I’m looking for teams that play guys at different positions and lets guys be very versatile, that’s where I would succeed. 

From watching teams in college, are there any in your opinion who do a good job utilizing and developing players with your playing style?

I feel like there’s a couple teams out there, like five or six that do things that I like to do with their players. 

Can you share who those schools are?

Yeah, UCLA, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Duke, Indiana, Texas and Iowa too.

How have those schools approached your recruitment?

Duke is the only school who hasn’t offered. (Note: Duke offered later on Friday). Duke obviously is just a great program, they recruit a little bit differently there but their interest is very high and I’m assuming they are going to be offering soon, which would make me feel very excited. 

What have they discussed with you so far?

I usually talk with Coach Scheyer, and we talk probably five or six times a week via text message and we also talk probably at least another two to three times a week. I’ve also talked with Coach K a little bit less than that. I’ve talked with him maybe once or twice a week since pretty much June 15. 

What have your conversations with Coach K centered around?

We both feel like it’s a very mutual thing and he thinks I would fit their system very well and he really likes my game and he thinks I would play and fit very well in their system. I really agree with him on that, it’s very enticing. 

Is Duke kinda the last offer you are hoping for—or are there other schools that you hope to have an offer from as you move forward in your recruitment?

That’s probably the last one that I’m looking forward to as of now, but there are other schools that I may look forward to but they haven’t even shown interest yet, but out of the schools that have showed interest to me, Duke’s the only one I’m hoping for an offer from.

If Duke were to offer you in the future TJ, how do you see that affecting your recruitment?

I’d think they’d be right up there, it’s a great program, like I said before Coach K uses guys the way I want to be used. They would jump right up there.

Schedule wise, when do you see yourself firming up a commitment to a school-is there a plan in place for that?

I would like to commit maybe this upcoming February/March/April, but if I’m not ready then, then I can wait. But my hope is to commit around then.

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