Derryck Thornton

Kelly Kline, Under Armor

Mixtape for Duke’s next point guard, Derryck Thornton (VIDEO)

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Earlier this month, Derryck Thornton reclassified into 2015 and committed to play for Duke, meaning that the 6-foot point guard will be the replacement for Tyus Jones as the primary ball-handler for the Blue Devils.

Thornton is a five-star prospect, and you can see just how promising he is as a player in this highlight tape. But you can also get a bit of a feel for why some of his struggles are struggles. He’s turnover prone, he makes risky plays that will either make Sportscenter when they work or get him sent to the bench, and he can be too ball-dominant and a bit of a gunner.

He is talented, however, and Coach K has done some good things with point guards in the past. He won a title with Jon Scheyer running the point and turned Nolan Smith into a first-team all-american point guard:

Duke lands commitment from elite PG Derryck Thornton, who will reclass

Kelly Kline, Under Armor
Kelly Kline, Under Armor

And now Duke has their point guard for next season.

Derryck Thornton has reclassified and committed to play for the Blue Devils next season, multiple sources confirmed to Thornton is currently ranked as the No. 9 player in the class of 2016 by Rivals, but he will be graduating from Findlay Prep a year early and enrolling at Duke in time for the 2015-16 season. was the first to report the news.

This is a commitment that head coach Mike Krzyzewski badly needed. It wasn’t much of a surprise when Jahlil Okafor left school after one season, and given the way that Justise Winslow played early in the 2014-15 season, it was more or less assumed that the wing would be on his way to the NBA this spring. The Blue Devils were prepared for Okafor’s departure, and they had enough wings on the roster or committed to the program in the Class of 2015 to survive Winslow leaving.

But when point guard Tyus Jones, who earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player in Duke’s run to the national title, declared for the draft after a terrific tournament run, it put Duke in a tough spot. They didn’t have a point guard on their roster, which is why they targeted Thornton.

Thornton is a high IQ floor general who makes a lot of plays for others while also being a decent jump shooter. Defensively, he’s also very competitive and should be ready to go on that end of the floor. Thornton was a likely All-American in the Class of 2016, but he’s probably ready to contribute at this level of college basketball right now.

The question is whether or not a kid that just finished his junior year of high school — he was originally a member of the Class of 2015, meaning he’ll be the same age as other freshmen next season — can handle being a full-time point guard for a team that will be competing for ACC titles and Final Four appearances. Thornton is a ball-hawk defensively, but he’s no where near as refined as Jones offensively. He turns the ball over too much, he has a tendency to be a bit of a gunner and he’s still learning the nuances of the position. Playing for Coach K will help — remember, he won a national title with Jon Scheyer playing as his point guard — but it’s still going to be a major adjustment for Thornton.

He’s the missing piece for the Blue Devils, one that will likely vault them into the top seven when we update our preseason top 25. Without Thornton, we had Duke at No. 13.

Duke commit Luke Kennard responds to Tyus Jones’ departure

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NEW YORK – On Wednesday morning, Tyus Jones, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, followed in the footsteps of teammates Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, becoming the third Duke freshman to enter his name into this year’s NBA draft.

In light of the news of Jones’ decision, lone Jordan Brand Classic Duke commit Luke Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, was repeatedly asked to address the state of the post-champion Blue Devils, whose key components have been stripped down and shipped to the NBA.

Kennard, who made waves earlier this season by passing LeBron James on Ohio’s all-time scoring list, acknowledged that, prior to the season, he assumed Okafor would likely be NBA-bound regardless of the season’s result. He also stated Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explained, when it came to Jones and Winslow’s respective futures, the determining factor would be their late-season performances.

Even with the idea of all three breakout freshman jumping to the NBA implanted in the back of his mind, Kennard made it clear it was still a pill he had to choke down.

“It kind of stinks that they’re leaving, they’re great players,” Kennard said. “I played with Justise and Tyus on the USA Team, U-18, this past summer. It’s going to be tough but we’re ready to come in and just play good and prove [ourselves].”

The departure of Jones leaves the Blue Devils without a point guard to their name, just a season after playing with two — Jones and senior Quinn Cook — in their starting lineup. With the tarp officially being torn off the gaping hole, Krzyzewski is trying to convince either, or both, of 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Jamal Murray, to reclassify and join Duke a year early.

However, if those plans end up fizzling, Kennard may be the Blue Devils’ fall-back to run the offense next season. Kennard, who played some point in AAU, as well as high school, told that assistant coach Jon Scheyer reached out to him and told him to, “keep working on that ball-handling,” because they may need it sooner rather than later.

If anyone knows about converted point guards, it’s Scheyer. After playing off the ball his first three years at Duke, Scheyer moved to the point in the midst of his senior season and led the Blue Devils to their fourth national title.

Kennard also admitted that, even though his sales pitch may not be as polished as Kryzyewski’s, he’s been doing some recruiting of his own. And while his efforts to lure Caleb Swanigan to Durham proved futile, Kennard said him and fellow Duke commit — as well as future roommate — Chase Jeter have been “going hard” at Brandon Ingram about joining them next season.

Ingram, ranked by Rivals as the No. 19 overall player in the 2015 class, would be a tremendous signing for Duke, but, as a small forward, he would not be the answer to their point guard woes.

While the final recruiting picture remains blurry, one thing is for sure: whether it’s from the two, off the bench, or as the starting point guard, Duke will need some major contributions from Kennard, along with the rest of their incoming class.

Top 10 2016 recruit cuts his list to 10

Derryck Thornton
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Arguably the top point guard in the junior class, and a consensus top 10 recruit in the Class of 2016 has narrowed his list of scholarship offers to just 10.

Findlay Prep (Nevada) 2016 point guard Derryck Thornton told Josh Gershon of on Tuesday that Arizona, California, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, N.C. State, USC and UNLV are the only teams remaining in his recruitment.

“I want to watch a lot of games to see how I can fit into these programs,” he told Scout. “I want to see their style of play, how the coaches react to the players and the point guard.”

It’s not surprising that the 6-foot-2 Thornton is wasting little time making moves in his recruitment. Thornton told back in July during the Reebok Breakout Challenge that he isn’t caught up in the hype and attention.

“I’m trying not to, I’m really just trying to focus on my game,” Thornton told “I wasn’t into it when I wasn’t as known and I’m not into it now.”

Thornton is listed as the No. 9 overall junior by Rivals, four spots behind fellow point guard Dennis Smith.

Seven Takeaways from Breakout Classic, The Showdown

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The first of July’s three live periods ended at 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Each of our writers were at an event last week, and each will be giving you seven takeaways from those events. 

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia University was home to a pair of high-level events during the first July live period, with Reebok hosting the Breakout Classic, a camp featuring more than 100 of the best high school players in the country, being followed by The Showdown, an invitational tournament held by Elevate Hoops.

Here are seven thoughts on the action from the City of Brotherly Love:

1. Playing hard will get you noticed: It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But it bears repeating, over and over again. The best example of this may be Horace Spencer, a top 75 recruit from Philly that spent much of his junior season riding the pine for Findlay Prep. A lot of people are going to brand Spencer a breakout player from the first week of July because he had a couple of big games. What they won’t realize is that he had those big games because his motor never stopped running. He got easy dunks because he beat people down the floor and worked for offensive rebounds. He kept his team in games because he blocked shots and went after loose balls and defensive rebounds like he was playing in the Final Four.

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

Another example is Nate Morris, a top 75 big man in the class of 2016. Morris was on the receiving end of one of the nastiest dunks from the Breakout Classic, but that didn’t stop him from challenging everything shot the rim. Getting posterized comes with the territory for shot blockers. The high major head coach I was sitting with at the time was much more impressed with Morris challenging shots at the rim on two of the next three possessions than he was with the player that dunked on Morris.

2. Jawun Evans is staking his claim for best point guard in his class: People that read this site or that follow me on twitter will be familiar with Evans because I’ve become infatuated with the No. 32 recruit in the class of 2015. He’s not built in the mold of guys like Russell Westbrook and John Wall; he’s 6-foot on a good day and his athleticism manifests more in his quickness than it does vertical explosiveness. But he’s a rock-solid ball-handler that always makes the right decision, he’s a playmaker off the bounce and he’s a pest defensively. John Groce of Illinois and Rick Barnes of Texas were among the head coaches that make their way to Philly to get a glimpse of the Kimball, Texas, native.

3. None of the three elite big men in Philly were dominant: There were three elite class of 2015 big men in Philly this week — No. 6 Diamond Stone, No. 11 Elijah Thomas and No. 14 Skal Labissiere — and none of the three were overly impressive. Stone looked great early on against Labissiere in the marquee matchup of the first day of the Breakout Classic, but a combination of stomach issues and struggles against the strength of Thomas made it tough for him to shine. Thomas is immovable when he establishes position on the block, but he lack of vertical explosiveness hindered him against some of the more athletic players at the camp. Labissiere has the length and athleticism — and soft touch — to be an elite player down the road, but the only time he looked dominant was when he played against a team from Richmond during The Showdown that didn’t have anyone over 6-foot-6 on their front line.

RELATED: Seven takeaways from the LeBron James Skills Academy

4. Dwayne Bacon continues to impress with his ability to score: You’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the class of 2015 that has continually impressed as much as Dwayne Bacon has. Bacon, who is headed to Oak Hill for his senior season, might be the best wing-scorer in the class. He had an excellent three days during the Breakout Class and capped off his week with a 43-point performance against Justin Simon and Gamepoint on Sunday during The Showdown. He’s a smooth, 6-foot-6 scorer that can get to the rim in the half court and is deadly when he gets into a rhythm shooting the ball.

5. P.J. Dozier is a player to keep an eye on in 2015: Dozier is coming off of knee surgery that cost him his junior season, but he returned this spring and has put together a very strong performance thus far in the most important summer of his career to date. Dozier has sprouted to 6-foot-6, and given his upbringing as a point guard, this has made him one of the more unique talents in the class of 2015. He’s an elite-level passer, although he can be turnover prone at times while trying to create a Sportscenter-worthy assist, and he has three-point range with time and space. It will be interesting to see what position he ends up playing at the next level. Is he a full-time point guard? Is he a playmaker on the wing? What positions can he guard in college? I can see him playing a role similar to that of Nik Stauskas or Grant Gibbs wherever he ends up going.

6. Derryck Thornton is the real deal: This week was my first glimpse at Thornton, a five-star point guard in the class of 2016 that plays his high school ball for Findlay Prep. He stole the show on Wednesday night, when Breakout Classic organizers orchestrated a matchup between Diamond Stone and Skal Labissiere to kick off the live period, and his play never dwindled throughout his three days at the camp. His ability to get into the paint and keep his dribble alive until he can find space for a shot or an open teammate is reminiscent of one of the NBA point guards that he said he watches a lot of tape on: Chris Paul.

7. When will Derrick Jones make the leap?: Derrick Jones has long been a favorite of the guys that make the youtube mixtapes, as the 6-foot-8 small forward might be the best athlete in the class of 2015. But in order for Jones to make the jump from being a scintillating athlete to becoming an elite college basketball prospect, he needs to do three things: add strength and size to his frame, improve his ability to handle the ball and become a better jump shooter. He showed some glimpses of that during the week in Philly, but he still has a way to go.

CBT Quotables Part 1: Jawun Evans, Diamond Stone, Skal Labissiere and more

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Over the course of July’s live recruiting period, we at College Basketball Talk will be posting anonymous quotes from coaches about the prospects that they are watching and recruiting. With coverage from the LeBron James Skills Academy, Reebok Breakout Classic and Adidas Unrivaled, we have people are the three biggest events of the week. 

Here’s what the coaches had to say, with quotes cobbled together from a handful of conversations we had:

PG Jawun Evans, No. 32 Class of 2015: “Quick point guard that controls the pace of the game and possession of the ball. He makes the right decision the majority of the time and tries to play the game the right way, which is a rarity in a setting like this. His jumper needs work, but he’s quick and can beat his man off the dribble and get into the lane. Bottom line: he’s an absolute stud.”

C Skal Labissiere, No. 14 Class of 2015: “He’s probably the most versatile big man. He’s got a developing skill set and a great feel for the game, inside and outside. He’s got long arms and huge hands. He can hit threes and has a soft touch on his jump hook. He needs to add strength and size to his frame, but isn’t afraid to challenge people at the rim.”

PG Derryck Thornton, No. 11 Class of 2016: “Derryck Thornton’s really good. Great feel for the game. Someone that can lead a team and take it to the next level. He’s adding range to his jumper, but his mid-range game is killer right now.”

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

PF Carlton Bragg, No. 9 Class of 2015: “I want more from Carlton Bragg. You see him make a play at the rim and it excites him enough to make him play hard for multiple possessions. But then he does something negative and doesn’t go as hard. He’s too talented for that.”

C Diamond Stone, No. 6 Class of 2015: “Big, physical big man. He’s got a good skill set and nice footwork around the rim, but he’s not as versatile as a guy like Skal where he can step out and knock down a perimeter jumper. He’s got a good upside and a chance to be special. He’s cut some weight but needs to add lower body strength. He doesn’t hold position in the low post as well as he should.”

C Chase Jeter, No. 8 Class of 2015: “Chase Jeter is a pro. He’s gotten a lot better over the last year or so. Love him as a player and love him as a kid. He has a bright future.”

PG Damontrae Jefferson, No. 49 Class of 2015: “Damontrae Jefferson is so talented, and athletic for his size, but I just question how his attitude would hold up within the structure of a team?”

SF Kaiser Gates, No. 109 Class of 2015: “Kaiser Gates is intriguing because he can hit shots and make some plays, but I wonder if he’s athletic enough to defend wings at the next level?”

SG Jarron Cumberland, No. 64 Class of 2016: “I don’t know if Jarron Cumberland has much long-term growth as a prospect, but he gets it done almost each time out and he’s a winner.”