Random Ramblings: Ring, Ring, Shav and Deng

With the recruiting radar pretty much zeroed in on a few different prospects, the wealth of new recruiting topics seems to be slowing down. However there a number of topics and issues throughout the Duke recruiting world that many fans never get a chance to hear. Our recruiting analyst offers his thoughts on the latest rumbings from Durham.

Stop and slowly back away from the phone

I had e-mailed John Watson about my assignment this week for the Devils Den.

Not much recruiting stuff to cover.

I mean, between the 30 North Carolina web sites out there, the 2-3 Duke recruiting sites, local newspapers, mainstream recruiting sites, radio talks shows, college coaches, etc. I figure Shaun Livingston is getting enough phone calls. I, for one, am not going to call the kid every five seconds. There is confirmation out there that one particular Carolina web site called Livingston 31 times DURING his Duke visit.

Folks -- that's going a little overboard. 31 freaking calls?

I can safely say that the web site that had Livingston's cell on speed dial was not InsideCarolina.com. Because I work for IC and we do things the right way. I mean it's cool to cover a kid's recruitment, but 31 calls is stalking. Give the kid a break. Either that or check yourself into a nut house.

Deng Deng Deng

Sometimes I can't figure it out. It boggles the mind. Trying to write about it may just confuse me even more. What is it that folks love so much about Luol Deng? - the new freshman sensation that will suit up this year for the Blue Devils. I saw him play a few times during his senior year in high school and AAU, but what is it that draws people to Deng's game?

Everything.

The Duke staff thinks he's the best player on the team. Yep, back up and read that last sentence again. They think he's the best player on the team. Not down the road. Not by the end of the season, but right now. As in today.

When you feast your eyes upon Deng this year at Duke -- you may notice that he's not the best shooter on the team. That's JJ Redick. You may notice that he's not the best ball-handler on the team. That's Chris Duhon. You may notice that he's not the best post player on the team. That's going to be Shavlik Randolph or Shelden Williams.

What you will notice about Deng is that he does everything. And he does everything well. And he does EVERYTHING together better than anyone on this squad.

Lead the break? Check. Rebound and score? Check. Defend the other team's best player? He'll do that too. The kid can do it all and he is a master of being able to play anywhere on the floor. From the top of the key to the wing to posting up down low. He's a completely different player than anyone on the Duke team right now. But he's completely sound.

Did we mention versatile? I think everyone knows that though. And talking about his versatility is like beating a dead horse. He's versatile -- we'll leave it at that.

Duke thinks Deng is the best player on the team this year. And I've got to give them the benefit of the doubt. They've seen everyone on the team play much more that we have.

Brace yourselves Duke fans. You're going to like Luol Deng this year. And you're going to like him more than you think.

Shav -- Does he HAVE it?

So the word is out. Shavlik Randolph has put on that weight that everyone so desperately wished he had had last year. He has officially tested out as the strongest guy on the team in the weight room. That's kind of surprising considering that Shelden Williams is also on the team. But sources close to the program confirmed it.

Now I know that there are a lot of folks out there that were disappointed in Randolph's first season. I mean he did come out of high school with insane amounts of hype. He was ranked as high as the number one player in the country at one time during his senior year. But let's be brutally honest here. What Shavlik didn't have was strength and toughness. He had amazing skills. He had a knack for blocking shots. He could finish with either hand and the softest of touch. But he didn't have that toughness.

He was 6-11 and 210 pounds. Not very thick for a cat who has to bang down low.

The staff says that he's 240 now? Holy protein shakes, Batman!

The weight and strength are there now. But will Randolph have that toughness? Will he get that edge that Christian Laettner had? When and if he gets that edge -- Randolph will be special.


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