Nolan Smith

Curtis Malone has bond denied, referred to as ‘large-scale supplier’ of narcotics

Leave a comment

Curtis Malone, the co-founder of the powerhouse DC Assault AAU program that produced such talents as Nolan Smith and Michael Beasley, had an appeal for bond denied by the U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

In the judge’s ruling, Malone was referred to as the “the principle character” and a “large-scale supplier” in a drug ring that could span the entire east coast.

Malone was arrested on August 9th on drug trafficking charges, and as his case slowly moves through D.C.’s court system, more information about just what he was involved in has started to leak out.

It reads like the plot of a season of The Wire, with Malone playing the role of Stringer Bell.

From this report by Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post:

In court proceedings Wednesday, assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Gripkey said Malone’s role in D.C. Assault was used as a disguise for his drug-trafficking activities. A wiretap on two of Malone’s phones revealed he used basketball apparel such as shoe brands and uniform sizes as code words for narcotics and money under aliases such as “White Boy” and “Daddy.”

During a search of Malone’s Upper Marlboro home on Aug. 9, police recovered one kilogram of cocaine, 84 grams of heroin, one .44-caliber semiautomatic handgun and paraphernalia associated with the distribution of controlled substances. They also seized one kilogram of cocaine and $20,000 in cash from co-defendant Stephen Williams after he emerged from Malone’s home that day.

There are plenty of other details in Giannotto’s story that will leave you questioning just how Malone was able to keep this quiet for so long. Like how Malone discovered an agent surveilling his house in February, or in June when he noticed that he had a tail on his way to a drug deal in Baltimore.

The program will be changing their name to the DC Premier, and with Malone forced to remain in jail, I think it’s safe to say that all ties have been cut between the program and it’s founder.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 16 Duke Blue Devils

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Lehigh v Duke

Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 27-7, 13-3 ACC (2nd)

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Key Losses: Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee, Andre Dawkins

Newcomers: Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy

Projected Lineup:

G: Quinn Cook, So.
G: Seth Curry, Sr.
F: Alex Murphy, Fr.
F: Ryan Kelly, Sr.
C: Mason Plumlee, Sr.
Bench: Rasheed Suilamon, Fr.; Amile Jefferson, Fr.; Marshall Plumlee, Fr.; Tyler Thornton, Jr.; Josh Hairston, Jr.

Outlook: This Duke team is really quite intriguing to me, and I think there is some merit to the line of thinking that the Blue Devils — and not UNC or NC State — are actually the favorite to win the ACC. I know what your reaction to that will be: ‘Duke always is hyped up in the preseason and never performs’. Fair, but keep in mind that we have them ranked 16th nationally. I’m not exactly predicting a Final Four here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that there was some potential on this roster.

The way I see it, there are three keys to Duke’s season:

  • Mason Plumlee: Like both of his brothers, Mason Plumlee has the kind of physical tools that can make him a star. He’s 6-foot-11 with long arms, broad shoulders and athleticism. On paper, he’s a lottery pick. The problem is that he’s never made that jump as a player from elite potential to elite production. He can score on the block and he can finish around, and above, the rim, but he’s never been considered a go-to scoring option or a guy that you can feed in the post and allow to operate. He blocks shots and he rebounds, but he’s never consistently dominated the paint. In other words, you build a game-plan for Mason Plumlee. You build a game-plan around Jeff Withey. There’s a difference. Plumlee needs to make a leap in that direction.
  • Alex Murphy: Murphy was originally in the Class of 2012, but when he committed to Duke in February of 2011, he made the decision to speed up his enrollment. Instead of spending last season as a fifth-year high school student, Murphy redshirted at Duke, spending a full season practicing, working out and getting better in the program. Before he reclassified, Murphy was a top 15 recruit nationally. Murphy is very skilled and quite athletic in the open floor. At 6-foot-8, he can shoot from beyond the arc, makes plays with the pass and handle the ball. Is he ready to be an impact player for the Blue Devils, or does he still need another year or two to develop?
  • Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon: Duke had two major issues in their back court last season: they didn’t have anyone that could penetrate a defense and create other than Austin Rivers, and they didn’t have anyone outside of Tyler Thornton who wanted to play any defense. Cook should end up being the answer at the point. He’s a very talented play maker and a willing passer that finally had a healthy summer to work out and improve. I’m expecting a big season out of him.Sulaimon, a top 15 recruit, enters the program with quite a bit of hype as a perimeter scorer, and that will certainly help offset the loss of Rivers, who, despite the bad press, did do some good things for Duke last year. But at an athletic 6-foot-4, where Sulaimon’s most important contribution may end up being is on the defensive side of the ball. Duke needs a perimeter stopper, a guy they can put on a go-to scorer and trust that he’ll make getting open looks difficult.

    The other issue to think about here is Seth Curry. I can see a situation arising where Duke’s best lineup is without him on the floor. The same thing happened to Greg Paulus his senior season, when Nolan Smith proved to be a better player, and Paulus took the demotion in stride. Will Curry be willing to do the same?

Duke has other pieces as well. I’m not the biggest fan of Ryan Kelly, but he is a stretch-four that is very capable at spreading the floor. He averaged 11.8 points and shot 40.8% from three last season. When Kelly’s outclassed athletically, Coach K will be able to bring in guys like Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston. Duke does have pieces this season, but there are a lot of things that have to fall into place for those pieces to truly end up fitting together.

Predictions?: The ACC may end up being the most entertaining conference race to watch unfold. The way I see it right now, NC State is the favorite, followed by Duke and then UNC. But all three of those programs have question marks and youth at key positions. I think the baseline expectation for Duke fans should be 14 or 15 league wins and a trip to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, but if everything breaks the right way, the Blue Devils could end up being a top two seed in the Big Dance.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

UNC commit Nate Britt announces transfer to Oak Hill (Va.) for senior season

Screen Shot 2012-06-07 at 3.37.13 PM
Leave a comment

North Carolina commit Nate Britt, a 6-1 guard from Washington, D.C., will transfer to Oak Hill Academy for his final prep season, he announced Sunday on

News of his transfer had been rumored throughout the spring, but today was the first time he publicly confirmed them. Recent weeks had brought conflicting reports from multiple outlets.

Edgar Walker of reported that Britt would make the announcement today, which he ultimately did around 12:30 PM EDT.

“I’ve decided to transfer to Oak Hill next year,” he said on the show. “I think Oak Hill presented me with an oppportunity that would prepare me for North Carolina next year. I feel like it would allow me to mature and get ready for college.”

Britt will be leaving Gonzaga College High School (D.C.)  as Top 25 prospect in the country and a Top 3 point guard in the Class of 2013.

He currently plays for the DC Assault on the AAU circuit, a program that has churned out other high-major point guard prospects, including former Duke guard Nolan Smith and current Duke guard Quinn Cook.

Oak Hill finished last season as the No. 1 team in the season, with an overall record of 44-0. Graduating seniors Tyler Lewis, Jordan Adams, and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera will all be headed to high-major programs, NC State, UCLA, and Georgetown, respectively.

The Warriors will be reloading in 2012-13.

Along with Britt joining the team, fellow Top 50 player Troy Williams of Hampton, Va., will be attending school at the national powerhouse.

North Carolina has two commitments from the Class of 2013 so far, Britt and North Carolina native Isaiah Hicks.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Former NBA coach Eddie Jordan returns to roots with D.C. Assault program

Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH–We’ve seen that look from Eddie Jordan before.

On an in-bound play, his team turns the ball over, which leads to two easy points in transition for the opposition. Jordan runs his fingers through his hair and looks away in displeasure, signaling to the referee for a timeout.

The game may appear to be the same, but the location isn’t. This isn’t an arena crowded with 20,000 spectators, something that Jordan would be used to after nine seasons as an NBA head coach.

Instead, he is in a middle school gym in suburban Pittsburgh, coaching in front of about twenty college coaches and, by a rough estimate, 100 parents and evaluators.

Jordan is now the coach of the D.C. Assault 17U team, a prominent AAU program from Washington D.C., that has churned out talent like Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nolan Smith of the Portland Trailblazers.

He called that timeout to settle his team down. It worked. They regrouped and went on to win, 62-37, in the first round of the Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest.

But this story isn’t about Eddie Jordan hitting some sort of metaphorical “bottom.” If it were, there would be no story to tell, because this is not the bottom. This, for Jordan, is the top.

“It took me this long to get me where I really wanted to be,” he told “Frankly, I wanted to coach middle school and high school kids. I was raised in southeast Washington D.C. It was a tough environment.

“I saw what my high school and middle school coach did and said, ‘This is what you can do to affect kids and make a difference and change kids’ lives.’”

Jordan, 57, was the head coach of three NBA teams in his nine-year career, and was also an assistant on the New Jersey Nets teams that reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

He was fired from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010 after just one season, finishing with a record of 27-55. But that is where the path, unconventional as it may seem, led back to his roots in Washington D.C.

He took a position as the freshman basketball coach at his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll High School (D.C.), after leaving the 76ers, where he was approached by Curtis Malone, an acquaintance who helps to run the D.C. Assault program.

Malone invited Jordan to work out with the team this past fall, and which led to Jordan taking over as coach this spring.

“There’s no one second-guessing you here. It’s pure basketball,” says Jordan with a genuine sense of sincerity. “I’m not getting paid. You want to enjoy what you’re doing. It was just basketball, working with kids. Most of them are Division I recruits, so it’s terrific.”

At the center of his program is point guard Nate Britt, a 2013 prospect committed to play for coach Roy Williams at North Carolina.

Britt is an intelligent basketball player who, when not playing for D.C. Assault, is the point man at Gonzaga (D.C.), one of the strongest programs in the D.C.-area conference, the WCAC.

As an elite-level guard, Britt says he is focused on what Jordan brings to the floor.

“He’s teaching me a lot about how to play, how to bring intensity all the time,” he says. “Just from him being an NBA coach, I’m learning a lot from him because he shows us how the NBA guys carry themselves and have that killer instinct every night.

“He’s a really nice guy. For him to come down from the NBA and teach kids at this level, I think it’s great.”

Britt’s father, Nate Sr., has coached D.C. Assault previously and Jordan credits the younger Britt’s development to his father’s guidance.

As Jordan returns to this grassroots level, it allows him to get involved as players emerge into the national spotlight for the first time.

Part of that spotlight is dealing with the media, with which Jordan has extensive experience from his time in the NBA. But instead of emphasizing it, Jordan prefers to focus on the court.

“I didn’t really talk about media. I talk about how to be a good teammate,” Jordan recounts. “How to respond to coaching. They’re so innocent and willing to listen, it’s a pleasure to coach them.”

Away from the national media spotlight, as he is in a middle school gym outside Pittsburgh, Jordan speaks in a way that projects contentment and a sense of pleasure with what he is doing.

D.C. Assault was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pitt Jam Fest, but not before a strong performance from Britt and 2013 forward Kris Jenkins.

The 6-5, 230-pound Jenkins is currently drawing interest from schools that include Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Villanova. He, too, is drawing off of Jordan’s presence with the Assault program.

“To have somebody who played and coached at that level is great,” says Jenkins. “He has knowledge and is a great teacher.”

But where will Jordan go from here, no that he has reached the job that he initially set out for?

“I’ve made a great living at the college level and in the NBA and I don’t want to retire,” he says. “I think I could coach another 8 to 10 years in the big leagues, but if it comes it comes.

“At this level, they’re talented, they’re respectful. There’s not the other drama you have to deal with. That’s how basketball was years ago.”

It might sound overly idyllic at first, but that’s not how it comes off when Jordan says it. Instead, it is decidedly humanizing, something that i at times lost or unseen at the professional level.

After more than a decade at the highest level, he recounted the one moment that sticks out most in his mind.

“My players invited me to their basketball banquet at Archbishop Carroll,” he says. “They gave me a book and essays they wrote about me. This is the most they could give and it was from their heart. It’s better than any ring or trophy.”

A chance could arise, hypothetically, for Jordan to return to the NBA, but don’t be so sure that he’d jump at just any offer. It might be too difficult to pull him away from grassroots.

“I didn’t want to sit around and wait for someone to hire me. I love basketball. I love teaching it,” he says. “And, here, I’m having a ball.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

America, meet Lehigh’s CJ McCollum

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Lehigh v Duke

In recent years, Duke has been known for their back court players, be it Austin Rivers, Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith, JJ Redick, Jay Williams … I could go on.

So that’s why the most shocking part of No. 15 Lehigh’s upset win over No. 2 Duke on Friday wasn’t necessarily the fact that the Mountain Hawks won — I’ve been on this all week, I’m just sayin’ (#humblebrag) — but that their star guard CJ McCollum was the best back court player on the floor.

And that it wasn’t even close.

McCollum finished with 30 points, seven boards and six assists for the Mountain Hawks, making numerous big time plays down the stretch. He’s a good-but-not-great shooter, athletic enough to get to the rim and crafty enough to finish among the trees or dump the ball off to a big man. In other words, he is exactly what you are looking for out of a lead guard at the college level.

“They had the best player on the court tonight in McCollum,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s been their player of the year, and he’s really one of the outstanding players in the country. You could see why tonight.”

Keep in mind, we’re talking about a player that, as a freshman, averaged 19.1 ppg and was named Patriot League Player of the Year. He didn’t develop over four years. He’s a junior, and he was a stud the minute he stepped on campus.

So it begs the question: why is he at Lehigh?

He grew.

As a freshman in Ohio, McCollum was just 5-foot-5. As a junior, he was barely 6-feet. He led his county in scoring for back-to-back seasons, but it wasn’t until he was signed with Lehigh that he grew to 6-foot-3 and went from a kid that couldn’t get a scholarship offer from Akron or Kent State to one that may have the NBA in his future.

Kids like McCollum are what make the NCAA tournament so great. He’s a non-entity on the national scene. I know who he is. Diehard fans know who he is. Folks that follow Patriot League basketball know who he is. But the majority of the country, and every casual fan, would have been clueless if you asked them who McCollum was a week ago.

And now he’s a star, a guy that led a tiny university in Bethlehem, PA, to an upset of the Duke Blue Devils on national TV.

“I told my teammates all year whenever in doubt get me the ball and I’ll make a play for us,” McCollum said.

I hope you enjoy the spotlight, CJ.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Duke’s defense could be in for a long night vs. North Carolina

1 Comment

Duke’s defense has seen better days. That makes the timing of tonight’s showdown against No. 5 North Carolina … unfortunate.

The Heels (20-3, 7-1 in ACC) responded to losing starter Dexter Strickland – their best on-ball defender – by inserting sharpshooter Reggie Bullock into the lineup. The results are familiar to anyone who’s seen a Roy Williams offense when it’s clicking: Points come quickly and in bunches.

In three games with Bullock as a starter, UNC’s scoring 1.12 points per possession, a huge boost from its previous ACC games. The defense also hasn’t suffered. That makes for a challenging day.

“They can be an offensive juggernaut, and especially at home,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So we have to play really good defense in order to have an opportunity to beat them.”

So. About the Duke defense.

The Devils (19-4, 6-2) have allowed opponents to score more than one point per possession 10 times this season (they haven’t done that the last two years) and six have come in the last month (including against Wake Forest and Georgia Tech!), the latest Sunday against Miami. That’s atypical for the Devils, who can usually be counted on for stiff defense. It’s often one of their saving graces when their shots aren’t falling.

Their turnover rate is down, opponents are hitting the offensive glass and finding more open shots than normal. It’s a team that Coach K hasn’t quite figured out. From The Dagger:

Krzyzewski apparently doesn’t see the same level of leadership he has witnessed in past years when Duke had seniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith last season or Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas the one before that.

“The last two years, we haven’t lost that many, but those teams were very mature,” Krzyzewski  said Monday on the David Glenn Show. “With Scheyer and Singler and Smith and Lance and Brian, we had older, very dependable guys. You knew what to expect. This year’s team is a team that doesn’t have those guys.

“One of the best ways of communication is if someone on your team is communicating your message. That’s what Singler did on a daily basis through his effort or Nolan Smith through his effort and talk. Or Scheyer, Lance and Brian. They did that as big brothers. That’s something we’re missing on this team. Not being negative about our team, but we just do not have that. As a result, the message you’re trying to get across may not be getting as deep as it needs to be.”

If there’s a silver lining in all this, it’s that Duke’s fared well vs. UNC lately, winning four of the last five. It also hasn’t lost two straight in three years.

That makes Wednesday’s game a wee bit important. Duke’s approaching it as such.

“You’ve got to move on because this game is a big game for us,” freshman Austin Rivers said. “If we can get a big win at Carolina, it can turn things around – not like we’re going down any bad path. We just struggled (Sunday) with that loss. A big win against Carolina can change a lot of things for us.”

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.