Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Djuan Piper: Stepping Into the Spotlight

He’s a tall, athletic wing with two state championships to his name and plays for a school that’s produced a handful of NBA players including Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Terrence Williams. His name is known in the Pacific Northwest, but he currently sits in the shadows behind certain high school and AAU teammates. Have you heard of Djuan Piper? Probably not, but you can be sure that college coaches from coast to coast sure have.

photo by Max Preps
Piper is a 6’5” wing with long arms and is active on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He excels in transition and also possesses great quickness. In the half-court set Piper can usually blow by his man on the perimeter and finish above the rim. Defensive pressure is his strongest attribute as he noted that “my defense is always there.” He has range on his outside shot and can knock down three’s, but is also well aware that he needs to improve the consistency of this three point shot while also gaining confidence in his ball-handling skills. 

High School:
In his high school career, Piper has played an integral role the past two years in helping Rainier Beach capture back to back championships in the state of Washington. As a sophomore he chipped in four points and six rebounds while teammate Anrio Adams led the way in a championship win over Seattle Prep. This past year as a junior, Piper teamed up with Shaqquan Aaron, a transfer from California and soon to be Louisville Cardinal. Both players share similar height and build and Piper said that coaches often compared the two. While Aaron was the new man in town, it was Piper who contributed 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in a 62-59 state title win over Lakeside. 

During the spring and summer, Piper is playing AAU ball for the Tacoma based Team Bradley NW Panthers that are led by future California point guard Ahmaad Rorie. While Rorie is the star player, the national tournaments have provided Piper with increased national exposure. During the second live April period, Piper caught the eye of Richmond head coach Chris Mooney in Dallas at the Adidas VIP Exclusive Run. 

“They liked that I was aggressive and said they needed a lanky big two-guard to come in. I could play right away and the year I graduate (high school) they might be playing in the Big East and I always wanted to play in the Big East” said Piper. I’ve built a good relationship with the coaches so far.”
This past weekend at the UA Summer Jam outside of Milwaukee, Mooney made sure that Piper knew how interested he was. While 450 coaches visited this tournament on the first day, only a handful remained on Saturday night and Sunday. Most of the remaining coaches were assistants, but Mooney was front and center for the Panthers’ playoff run sometimes standing directly behind the basket in full view. Piper showcased his talent averaging 9 points and 3.5 rebounds a game throughout the tournament.

While many west coast schools have shown an initial interest in Piper, USC and their new coaching staff made it clear that he was a priority. 

“The first day Coach Enfield went to USC, he called my high school coach and called my phone. He said this is my first day and you’re at the top of my list” noted Piper.

At the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Piper piqued the interest of Kansas coach Bill Self.

Piper said “This just happened, in Indiana. He must have been at my game and he called my coach. He said they wanted to start recruiting me.”

While Piper has not taken any official visits he knows for sure he wants to get out to Richmond and USC and hopefully Kansas. Two schools that have not expressed interest that could jump quickly to the top of his list are Washington and California. When asked if he would be interested in Washington, Piper noted “Oh yeah, easy they would be Top 3.” Despite being a local product he hasn’t seen Lorenzo Romar or any of the UW coaching staff at his games. 

As for Cal, Piper loves to play with his AAU teammate Ahmaad Rorie and wouldn’t mind joining him in college as well. 

“Ahmaad’s my guy,” Piper said. “I would definitely like to play with him at Cal.”

Other schools currently in contact with Piper are Washington State, Utah, Boise State, along with the Oregon schools and Boise State.

For now, Piper is ready to put on his best effort for college coaches one last time in Las Vegas and then he is off to the Adidas Nations in Los Angeles. After the AAU season winds down, it’s back to Rainier Beach as he looks to team up with Aaron for another championship run. This year the team will step out onto the national stage with a potential game in the Hoophall Classic as well as one against Jahlil Okafor and Whitney Young in the Les Schwab Invitational.

“We’re going for our third in a row this year,” Piper said. “I think we are gonna be nice and compete not just for a state championship, but also the national championship.”

While college coaches started to take notice of Piper’s skill set, a third state championship along with a national title could go a long way in bringing Piper out from the shadows of his teammates and into a nationally recognized name.

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