Deng Gak Talks Duke Offer; Plans

The most recent offer extended by the Blue Devils was to four star power forward Deng Gak. We sat down with the 6-foot-10 prospect to get his reaction to the recent Duke interest and to look ahead to what’s next in his recruitment.

You’ve got some time off from the EYBL, what have you been up to?

Dang Gak:  Yeah it’s good, Coach Munch gave us the weekend off, so I’ll definitely use that to my advantage. Might watch the Draft, I’m a Giants fan.

How do you think your second weekend of playing in the EYBL went as opposed to your first weekend?

My second weekend was much better while I was still adjusting to playing AAU with them. I did much better, really started to get more of a feel to play with Mohamed and him playing with me and I also got more of a feel in playing with the whole team the second weekend. We’re doing real well. Munch still has me coming off the bench at this point, but he might start me, we’ll see. I don’t really mind though with this team because everyone came in knowing that nobody was going to play that much more than anybody else in terms of averages, and we really all came in together to win and that’s what makes this team so special.

Munch knew that I could do more and he knew I was working on my confidence, so he ran a lot more plays for me to attack different guys like off the high post. I was doing a really good job at getting to the rim which was then freeing me up for open jumpers or I could pass it to Mo, so it really opened things up with those plays and he let me adjust my game to the team’s offense. We did a really good job at moving the ball around as a team.

I saw a Tweet about Quade Green and how good his assist to turnover ratio was through the first two weekends of EYBL, what’s it like for you getting to play with him?

Yeah man, he’s great, he can get you the ball anywhere, you always have to be ready. That’s definitely an elite point guard right there. He’s about 50/50, like he get his and can score, but he knows that we have a talented guys on this team so he keeps us involved, he’s very pass first as well. A lot of my time on the court I played with him.

So when you two play together, does he commonly work with you via pick and rolls, or is it more you curling and him finding you?

Yeah we’re not doing a lot of pick and roll, it’s mostly Mo doing the pick and then I might be opposite or I’ll be at the high post or low post for that kind of action, it’s kinda been like that.

You mentioned Coach Munch’s coaching impact, how is helping you personally on the recruiting side of things?

He keeps everyone level because our whole team has a ridiculous amount of offers even from just the first weekend alone, not even the second weekend. He’s done a real good job at telling us that all those offers are bonuses but that’s not the only reason why I put this team together, we’re trying to win the Peach Jam. Him and Mohamed have that goal set in everyone’s mind that while it’s a great bonus that we all have these offers, what we’re really here for is to win Peach Jam. With recruiting stuff, he tells me take my time, don’t think too much about it right now, don’t think about who is on the sidelines. Other than that we haven’t spoken about recruiting too much. He’s taking calls for me from coaches, and he’ll pass on that info but he’s also big on letting us know that it’s important that we make decisions for ourselves.

Aside from Coach Munch, is there anybody else that you are discussing your thought process regarding the programs who are either recruiting you or who have offered you a scholarship?

Yeah I’m speaking with my high school coach, with my parents, my brother who is going to Florida.  I speak with a lot of people about that. They are emphasizing similar things like you want to go somewhere where you feel really comfortable both on the basketball court and in the classroom and just on campus, that’s really important.

How much of a plan have you and that support group developed so far with how you want to handle the rest of the recruiting process going forward?

A little bit I’d say, but not too much. I’m definitely starting to think about cutting my list down and figuring out visits after a little while. I was speaking with my brother about that and he told me he was real comfortable during his senior season and it went smooth without worry because he had done all that stuff prior. So I kinda want my senior season to be like that. Yeah I’m thinking I want to decide by November, and I’m thinking deciding in the fall term is what I’m thinking right now, but that could change.  That’s just what I’m thinking right now.

How major a role will your visits play in your recruitment?

I’d say they will play a big role, I need to see how the schools are, what the coaching staffs are like there, what the overall school environment is like. It’ll play a big part since I haven’t visited any schools yet.

I know there’s a lot of schools involved at this point, do you already have a sense at this point of what schools might be a part of the first group of visits you plan and take?

I’m kinda still figuring that out, I’ll definitely have an idea in the new few weeks with that.

Which programs have already asked you at this point if you would take a visit to check them out?

Kansas has, Duke definitely has too. Connecticut has, and Alabama. Those schools have really told me how much they want me to come down to campus to visit. They are talking about trying to see if I will do an unofficial first.

With some of those schools being farther away than the others from where you live, will distance play a factor in when you go visit them?

It’s not a big deal at all and it’s irrelevant for me with the decision.

It was reported that Duke offered you recently, can you shed some light on how they extended the scholarship offer and what was said in the conversations with them?

Coach Scheyer began recruiting me a while back, like back in October and he came to a couple of my games like against Montverde and then some of my practices and then he spoke to me about Coach K.  Then a few days ago was when I first spoke with Coach K. Then Coach K just started explaining to me why he wanted me to go to Duke, how well I would fit in their system, then he offered me a scholarship.

What was your response to the conversation with Coach K and his message?

It’s a shock really, it’s a really great feeling because you know you are doing something right if Coach K is calling you. I’m not even sure how to fully describe how it feels. It’s still surreal that Duke offered me.

What did Coach K share with you about how they see you specifically fitting in with the Duke program and what their development plans would be for you if you went there?

He just said that I have a really big upside and coming in potentially I would be coming in with another top big in the country like Mohamed or Wendell Carter or someone like that. He said I could do really developing under them and no matter how many years it took I’d do well. It’s a bonus, really, if a school wants to bring me in with a talented big. That’d be really cool and it’d be great to be able to go against another top big like that in practice all the time and playing with them. It’s kinda like me and Mo right now.

What kind of questions or response did you have for him or to what he shared with you?

I didn’t really ask him any questions, I really wanted to listen and take everything in.

How do you feel at this point about Duke recruiting you and Mohamed and Quade Green?

That’s great man, it’s really cool and it shows that we have one of the best teams out there by them recruiting all three of us, that’s really great. Coach K actually talked about Mohamed and I playing together, he didn’t speak about the roles so much, he said that most likely if I came in I’d be coming in with another top pick like Mohamed or Wendell Carter or something like that. He didn’t talk as much about the roles being played.

Now that you have a lot of offers at this point, how are you sorting out how you feel differently about each program that’s offered you?

I’m not there yet, not yet.

Most players’ dream obviously is to make it to the NBA, what for you is your thought process towards how long you would like to spend in college before going after that dream?

NBA is definitely a dream. If I could go after one year that would be great, but I don’t mind at all how long it takes me to get there because ultimately it’s about staying there—that’s my goal.

What are going to be the major deciding factors for you as you figure out your final list of schools you will decide from?

Just teams that have a great history of being a great school that’s in contention for the National Championship every year. Schools like that are where I see myself playing at. That’s the biggest criteria. After that, I have to be comfortable, I have to like the school environment, the coaching staff, all of that. I don’t really mind about campus size.

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