It is nearly impossible to predict during the recruiting process when/if the recruit will leave. Over the past nine years, we have lost 10 guys early to the NBA. In general, in recruiting, we want to bring in Duke-type kids, and some of these recruits will be four-year guys while others might be more likely to leave early to the NBA depending on the nature of that year's high school class. In general, the best strategy for us is to recruit kids who fit our program athletically, academically and socially.
What's a typical weekend like when a recruit takes his official visit to Duke? Is there a standard procedure or does it vary depending on each recruit? What are some of the highlights (I've heard that the team gets together to have a cookout, that sort of thing)?
The official visit weekend provides a great opportunity for us to get to know a recruit and his family better, and for them to get to see what it is like to be a student-athlete at Duke. The main focus for us is on providing the recruit and his family a true feel for Duke. We want the recruits to spend a great deal of time with our players and on campus to see what it is like athletically, academically and socially. We want them to meet and get to know the people who will be most influential in their day-to-day growth at Duke, whether that be on the court or in the classroom.
For each recruit, we personalize the visit so that they leave Duke at the end of the visit with complete information and comfort. The visits typically include several meals with coaches and players at local restaurants, on campus and/or at the Krzyzewski home.
To help the prospect get a true and genuine feel for our team and school, we make sure he spends significant time with our guys socially on campus and in the dorms, watches a practice if possible, and also has meetings with key people who will play a role in his development at Duke, such as our Academic Coordinator Kenny King and our Strength and Conditioning Coach William Stephens. One of the factors that has changed with official visits is that many recruits make early decisions to attend different schools. Many times, our recruits are already verbally committed when they come for their official visit and the weekend becomes a time for them to spend time with our team and get a better feel for what it will be like when they arrive here at Duke.
What are the factors that go into evaluating a possible recruit. I ask because the Duke recruiting system goes after far fewer targets than most other major basketball universities.
We focus on three equally important areas: talent (to play well at Duke), desire (to be educated at Duke and receive a degree), and character (to want to represent the university, our program, our community, and family and friends with pride and respect). We try our best during the recruiting process to learn about the kids in each of these areas, and each kid's recruiting process is different. Our mission is to find the best kids for our school and our program. We don't get caught up in the early rush, the high-volume recruiting or the superficial aspects of recruiting. Instead, we focus on learning about the recruit and then developing a genuine and honest relationship with the recruit and his family.
For almost three decades, we have taken this personalized approach, while concentrating on telling the Duke story and sharing a program and a place that we couldn't be more passionate about.
Duke has been extremely selective in kids they will recruit, let alone the tiny number they offer. This has often led to panic among the fan base when kids go elsewhere. Will Duke be casting a larger net going forward?
We have been successful recently and over 27 years using this approach in our recruiting. Going forward, we will continue to focus on telling our story and presenting Duke honestly and passionately, while working hard to find the best kids for our school and program. We will not "cast a wider net" or make any changes if it means sacrificing in any way the foundation on which our recruiting philosophy has been built over the past 27 years, but we will certainly work as hard as ever to discover high school student-athletes who potentially have the talent, desire and character that we look for in a Duke player.
Coach K says everyone runs their own race at Duke. What kind of first leg around the track are you specifically expecting from the three players coming in?
We would prefer to let each one of these young men develop their own identities at their own paces. Oftentimes, we believe young players are unfairly compared to players from the past or present and have certain expectations placed on them.
For our new guys to truly run their own race, each young man has to be allowed the opportunity to grow and develop at his own pace without having unreasonable or unfair expectations placed on him before even stepping foot on campus. For that reason, we hesitate to throw any comparisons or expectations about these young guys out there.
Also, comparisons can sometimes be confining. For example, while we thought J.J. Redick would be a great college player, there is not one of us who would have predicted that he would finish his career as the ACC's all-time leading scorer and as a two-time National Player of the Year. Fortunately for us, many of our recruits have reached and exceeded our expectations for them over the years. In general, we believe each member of the 2007 class will have a big impact on next year's team. They are all different players with unique skills, and we anticipate each guy having a role on next year's squad.
Be sure to check out Part III of our interview with Coach Collins and Coach Wojciechowski as they tackle your questions regarding coaching philosophy and strategies at Duke.