In Czyz, Duke Adds A Versatile Forward

Since he committed to the Blue Devils in the fall, there have been many opinions from various analysts regarding just what Reno (Nev.) High standout power forward Olek Czyz will bring to the Duke lineup in 2008-2009. While that question won't be answered for several months, the 6-foot-8 Czyz is putting in the work to make sure he contributes as much as he can.

"I have been working out every day," said Olek Czyz. "My goal is to get better at everytihng - I want to be a better jump shooter, have better footwork inside, and I want to be more explosive going to the basket."

Explosiveness to the basket is something Czyz is already known for. At 6'8 he is reported to have nearly a 40 inch vertical jump and has developed a reputation for finishing with authority around the rim throughout the west coast. But there are parts of his game that Olek has been working hard to improve as he prepares to make the switch from high school to high major college basketball.

"One thing I think anyone can do early in their career is go in and make the hustle plays. You have to be willing to work hard and go in and battle for rebounds and putbacks. Last year they [Duke] had a lot of injuries to the big guys, and there were times where they just got beaten inside. I can immediately contribute there."

Currently checking in at 6'8 and 230 pounds, Czyz looks to have the kind of physical stature associated with many of the more recent successful big men such as Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, and Shelden Williams - all of whom were roughly the same size and weight entering college. And, all of whom are enjoying careers in the NBA. However, Czyz sees a distinction between himself and that trio.

"I think I am more of a power forward than a center, but I will play wherever I am needed. Next year we will have guys like Brian [Zoubek] and Miles [Plumlee] who are true 'big guys', and that could allow me to play as more of a forward and it could even let a guy like Kyle move over to the small forward."

By adding big bodies and with the young players such and Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith gaining a year of experience, and a year of off-season conditioning; combined with a potential breakout year from Gerald Henderson, Czyz sees the Duke program poised to make a return to once familiar territory this winter.

"We have added a lot with our recruiting class, and the team didn't lose anyone besides Demarcus [Nelson] to graduation. I think we will be a very good team next year with a real chance to make a run at a championship."

If this incoming freshman's work ethic and energy is any indication, the Blue Devils just might.

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