Mike Krzyzewski and Duke are holding the 11th K Academy this year, which is essentially a fantasy camp for adults to be coached by Krzyzewski and former Duke stars. The proceeds go to the Emily Krzyzewski Foundation and general scholarships at Duke. Both Krzyzewski and some of those former players sat down with the media on Thursday as the camp began.
Ryan Kelly has had a pretty big off-season. The seven-footer had surgery to repair a foot injury, hired an agent and oh yeah graduated from Duke. But by far the biggest news? He got engaged to girlfriend, Lindsay Cowher (yes, Bill Cowhers daughter). He announced it last Thursday on Twitter:
All Kelly was willing to say about his proposal is that he took Cowher to a lake in Raleigh, where they walked around for a bit before he pulled the ring out of his bag. But Tweeting it out allowed Duke fans, family and friends to share in his excitement.
And hey, it sure saves the time it takes to send out wedding announcements. "Everybody knew pretty quickly but at the same time, it wasnt a bad thing because I didnt have to call as many people," Kelly said. "They already knew."
Former Duke star Jon Scheyer graduated a scant three years ago and hes already back at Duke, filling the special assistant role vacated by Nate James (when Chris Collins took the head job at Northwestern and everyone else shifted over a chair, so to speak).
"Jons a natural," Krzyzewski said of Scheyer. "He cant be on the court with the guys with a basketball, but hell be heavily involved with strength and conditioning and the development of players, their mental stuff, their people skills. Hell be terrific."
An injury to his right eye cut his professional playing days short.
But when Collins was hired at Northwestern, Krzyzewski got in touch with Scheyer, who jumped at the chance. "You look at our staff and you have very accomplished (guys). Obviously, (Krzyzewski) speaks for himself and (Steve Wojciechowski), and (Jeff) Capel was obviously a head coach already, so I feel very fortunate to be in this position," Scheyer said. "I just think my whole basketball career has been about hard work and a love for the game and just working at it, so thats what Im going to do as a coach on the staff here."
Scheyer went from averaging 11.7 points per game as a sophomore to 18.2 as a senior, all while having to take over the starting point guard role on a team that would go on to win a national title. Hes used to hard work. Former teammate Nolan Smith says that, combined with his youth, will make him an asset to this staff.
"Obviously, hes still young so players are really going to relate to him," Smith said. "He loves the game. Hes going to be a gym rat, somebody thats going to be watching film, somebody that guys like (Alex Murphy) and those guys can just talk to when theyre going through problems. Hes going to be great."
His youth can make things a bit ... strange, though. Rising senior Andre Dawkins redshirted last season and has already graduated from Duke, meaning that Scheyer will be coaching someone that used to be his teammate in 2010.
"I was a senior and I had (Dawkins) bring me Gatorade after every practice. Now, I cant have him do that anymore, Scheyer said. He paused, and grinned. Well I guess I could, actually."
ANDRE DAWKINSQUINN COOK
Dawkins took a year off last year to regroup, and while the sharpshooter hasn't been made available to the media yet, former and current teammates had rave reviews of the new Andre Dawkins.
"Andre can really shoot the ball and...a year off, it really hasnt hurt his shooting at all. He can still shoot it as good as ever," Scheyer said. "But he looks great and it seems like hes in a good place, so Im looking forward to seeing him grow this year."
Nolan Smith said Dawkins looked like a new player. Smith is one of the more beloved players in basketball, a friend to seemingly everyone and a mentor to many, including current Duke point guard Quinn Cook. Both lost their fathers at a relatively young age, and Smith has been a mentor to Cook almost his entire life.
He noticed his friend Cook struggling in the NCAA tournament, particularly the last weekend in games against Michigan State and Louisville. "I think that was his first time going through the tournament as that guy. I think mentally, he wouldnt say it but when I talked to him, I just kept trying to tell him to relax and have fun," Smith said.
"Being around him for so long, I could tell he was putting pressure on himself. Now, hes about to be a junior and he'll relax next time he gets into those situations. ... After being there once, then next time you're there, the old saying is it wont be your first rodeo. Hell be ready."
Duke has a lot of questions in terms of its available big men going into next season, and Amile Jefferson who will be a sophomore could answer a lot of them.
"At 6-9, (with) a 7-1 wingspan, (Jefferson is) just going to keep getting a little bit bigger. Im not sure taller, but stronger," Krzyzewski said. "And I think he's going to be a very important piece for us because he's a good basketball player."
Jefferson is working on the bigger part of it. He and Duke associate director of strength and conditioning Will Stephens have set a goal getting up to around 220 pounds. Jefferson was 209 when the season ended. He is increasing his work in the weight room and eating at least six times a day.
"Ive been eating everything in sight," Jefferson said. "Sometimes, you're not really hungry but you've still got to eat anyway. Its going to pay off at the end and I know that.
That, combined with his work in the weight room, has him up five pounds to 214. Of course, eating everything in sight doesnt necessarily mean he can pig out on fast food. You know, like normal college students.
"Every morning, I eat a large bowl of oatmeal and like three eggs," Jefferson said. "I think Im going to get tired of that pretty soon."