Tennessee PF Has Been In Touch With Duke

The needs for the class of 2010 in Durham are well documented. Duke needs an elite point guard. Duke needs a scoring wing. And, lost in the shuffle sometimes, is the fact that the Blue Devils may need a big forward in the mold of former players Carlos Boozer, Shelden Williams, and former target Patrick Patterson. One player who may fit that mold spoke to TDD at this weekend's NBA Camp.

Measuring out at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Memphis (TN) Ridgeway standout big forward Tarik Black has established himself as one of the nation's best inside forces.

Described by Scout's Dave Telep as a "beastly inside player", Black's game consists of explosive athleticism around the rim which results in big time finishes and tough rebounds. And while he still needs to refine his offensive attack and develop a more diverse offensive repertoire, Black is certainly not hurting for high major schools pursuing him including most of the SEC as well as Miami, Memphis, Xavier, UMass, and others.

At the NBA Camp, Black was matched up against some of the nation's top big guys including Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Despite giving up some size against both, Black was effective in using his speed and athleticism.

"That's something I try to do against bigger guys," said Black. "I try to make them play outside the block because it gives me the advantage. if they get me down all the way in the post, that's an advantage for them because of their size. So I try to make them shoot the ball, which is a weakness for many big guys. That doesn't mean I don't get after them though. I just might use a bump or something - anything I can do to use my athleticism."

That kind of athleticism is something the Blue Devils appear to be looking for in the class of 2010. Which is why Duke sent staff members to Memphis recently to watch Black workout.

"Duke came by my school and I've talked to the coaches a few times on the phone. Honestly I don't watch a whole lot of college basketball, and I don't really pay attention to others' perception of Duke. What I do know about them is they are a great program - period. And, because they are great, I am certainly interested in them."

It may seem odd that a high major recruit isn't an avid viewer of college hoops, but most high major recruits have a history playing the sport. For Black, his start in basketball came later.

"You may not believe it, but I didn't really start playing until my ninth grade year - and I didn't watch much at all growing up."

But once he stepped on the court the game seemed to come easily to him. Now, just under three years later, Black is a highly rated player who can write his own ticket when it comes to his collegiate destination. So what factors will be important for him when he starts down the road towards a decision?

"Academics. It's no joke. At my school it's very demanding. It's a 1. Baccalaureate system where they are a public school, but it's like a private school in that you have to have a certain level of academic qualification to get admitted to the school. Plus if I don't have a certain GPA and certain SAT score I'll be in big trouble with my mom and my school. Like I wouldn't even be able to play basketball. I don't want that to prevent me from playing, so I'm always on top of my academics."

Any particular subject matter that has caught his eye to this point?

"I'm big into Sports Medicine. I do really well in biology and all of my science and math classes."

Interview conducted by Steve Clark at 2009 NBAPA Camp


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