Marshall Plumlee probably knows just about all there is to know about the inner workings of the Duke basketball program.
His eldest brother, Miles, is a rising junior for the defending NCAA champions. Another brother, Mason, will be a sophomore with the Blue Devils next season.
So unlike many recruits, who are wooed and courted by college coaches highlighting mostly the positives about their programs, Marshall has an intimate family understanding about how coach Mike Krzyzewski runs his team.
And it’s telling for Duke and Krzyzewski that the third Plumlee brother still committed to the Blue Devils on Saturday. The commitment was as strong an endorsement as Krzyzewski could ever hope to get from any recruit.
The players’ father, Perky Plumlee, spoke frankly earlier this week about what Marshall’s commitment means for Duke.
“I think we do have a unique perspective,” he said, “and I think that any school, when you’re just being recruited by a school, if you haven’t had a personal experience with the program like we have with Duke I suppose it’s human nature that you imagine an environment that’s totally pain free. Actually playing in a program doesn’t mimic the recruiting process. The recruiting process is a courtship and it’s fun and it’s flattering. . . .You can’t actually simulate what it would be like to be there in practice, being pushed to your limits.”
Perky Plumlee said the family has confidence in the way Krzyzewski and his staff coach players. If that weren’t the case, Plumlee said, they wouldn’t send another son there.
He also said Marshall will go to Duke knowing fully well just how hard the Duke staff pushes its players. He said the staff is demanding, doesn’t take shortcuts and requires maximum effort from players, pushing them beyond what they thought their limits might have been.
“I do think that because Duke is such a prominent and successful program, unfortunately there probably is a lot of misinformation that perhaps their competitors like to generate,” Plumlee said. “They maybe try to perpetuate [negative] things, I don’t know, to gain a recruiting advantage. All I can say is that from my perspective Coach K, his program is honest and he has his methods and styles, I don’t suppose that they’ve changed that much over 30 years. Really the burden is on the kid to work hard and make the most of his opportunity.”
While Duke endured a five-year Final Four drought from 2005 to 2009, there was a perception that recruits were reacting negatively to how hard Krzyzewski pushes his players.
Duke lost out on highly rated recruits such as Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Greg Monroe (Georgetown) and even Harrison Barnes, an incoming freshman at North Carolina, and some wondered if there was something wrong within the program.
By capturing the 2010 NCAA title, the Blue Devils emphatically refuted those doubts on the court. Now, Marshall Plumlee’s commitment reaffirms the direction of the program behind closed doors.
“The fact that we are enthused of Marshall’s choice, I guess, is a good endorsement of their program and the way they run it,” Perky Plumlee said.
Marshall Plumlee, rated No. 40 in the nation in the Class of 2011 by scout.com, isn’t the type of recruit with the ability to instantly carry Duke to a Final Four. But those kind of recruits come and go, often spending just one season at a school.
Plumlee’s commitment should have positive implications for the Blue Devils that last much longer.