Gbinije Preparing To Make The Jump

While keeping an eye on his future team throughout the season, Richmond (Va.) Benedictine standout Michael Gbinije is also busy working towards a play-off run of his own. TDD caught up with the five star commit recently to get an update.

"I'm averaging around 22 points and seven rebounds per game," said Michael Gbinije. "We're doing really well and are 17-3 on the season. We have a big game coming up at Duke on the 11th against a team from New York, and I'm excited to play in Cameron with my teammates."

It'll be the first time playing a non-AAU contest in the historic arena for Gbinije, but it won't be the last as he prepares for a four year career as a Blue Devil. And though he's already signed his letter of intent for Duke, the nation's fifth ranked small forward says he knows that was just the first step.

"I know there are things I need to work on and I've been doing that. Really it's been about improving my shooting and ball handling, and I'm always trying to add weight in the weight room."

"With shooting I just want to make sure I continue to get better and better from the perimeter and with my midrange game. I get a lot of shots up during the week after practice and really work on my balance and form. Just making sure I eliminate fading backwards on the shot. If I can come up and then down on the same spot, that's a good shot."

"In the weight room I've just been getting extra reps in when I can. I'm currently 6-foot-6 and 208 pounds and I want to just continue to get stronger and more explosive."

As with most Duke recruits, Gbinije has had a mixed reaction from opponents throughout the season. Some are congratulatory. Some heckle him. Nearly all look to make a name for themselves when matching up with the future Blue Devil. It's part of the recruiting process, and as all his future teammates have learned - it's something you just have to deal with.

"After you commit to Duke the expectations are very high. Everyone expects me to score at will. To dominate everyone I compete against. to never turn the ball over. To never lose a game. Essentially, everyone expects me to be perfect."

So how does the five star prospect deal with out of control expectations?

"I set my own goals and own standards and try to live up to them while also focusing on winning and helping my team be successful every time. If I go out and play to the best of my ability each time, that's all I can do."

More specifically, Gbinije has his own pre-game ritual that has helped.

"Before each game I write something on my wrist. The focus for that game. It's my own message and some games it is different than others, but when things get rough or I need the game to slow down I look at it and remember what I need to do."

As for his future team, the future Blue Devil has been impressed with the adjustments made throughout the season and believes things will continue to go well in Durham.

"Even with the two losses and with Kyrie going out, I think they have a chance to win this year. They just have to keep working hard and listen to the coaches and the seniors. They know what to do."

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