Stock watch: Amile Jefferson, Luke Kennard develop into rising stars for Duke men's basketball

Stock watch: Amile Jefferson, Luke Kennard develop into rising stars for Duke men's basketball

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week, the Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

Bull Market—Trending Up

Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard: Going into the 2016-17 season, Duke's offense was expected to go through junior guard Grayson Allen and incoming freshmen Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles. Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 graduate student, and Kennard were expected to be role players on a talented Duke team.

But Allen has been inefficient and is playing hurt, Tatum is working his way into the lineup after a foot injury he suffered in October and Giles is rehabbing his knee and has yet to play a game. As a result, Jefferson and Kennard have taken on leading roles, contributing an average of 36.0 points and 16.5 rebounds per game between the two of them, including Kennard’s 35-point outburst against Maine Saturday and Jefferson’s 24-point, 15-rebound performance against Florida in the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night. Read more »

Duke in the NBA: Irving, Redick leading their teams to strong starts

Duke in the NBA: Irving, Redick leading their teams to strong starts

Kyrie Irving and Jabari Parker are putting up big numbers for their teams, while Justise WInslow waits to be cleared to play.

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers:

Irving helped the Cavaliers end their three-game losing streak Monday night, scoring 24 points and picking up seven assists in a 116-112 win against the Toronto Raptors. The contest was his 10th consecutive 20-point performance, a mark he has reached in 18 of Cleveland's 20 games this season. He is also averaging 2.5 made 3-pointers per game, a career high for the point guard. Irving and the Cavaliers, who are atop the Eastern Conference right now, will continue to seek their second championship in as many years.

Irving also visited New York this week to play the Knicks Wednesday and sat courtside to watch Duke beat Florida in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. A day later, he put up 28 points in a 126-94 win and dished out six assists, one of which resulted in an alley-oop to LeBron James in transition. Read more »

This week in Duke history: 'Blue Angels' program matches football recruits with female hosts

This week in Duke history: 'Blue Angels' program matches football recruits with female hosts

Louisville may have made national headlines last fall with the NCAA’s investigation into its alleged hiring of prostitutes for basketball recruits—but it comes out of a milder, albeit potentially related tradition.

The Chronicle reported Dec. 2, 1988, on Duke’s “Blue Angels” program for recruits. Like many southern schools in college football, the Blue Devils would attract recruits on their visits by assigning them a female student to show them around.

Almost all the interactions between the females and the recruits were monitored, but it did not stop the speculation. In fact, many at Duke, including then- and current-dean of student life Sue Wasiolek, did not know such a program existed.

"I would have to say, from the outside looking in, and not being very familiar with the program, that it does allow one to draw the conclusion that it it is a sexist organization and that it promotes sexist ideas,” Wasiolek said at the time. Read more »

Tatum and Jefferson star against Florida after attending funerals for loved ones

Tatum and Jefferson star against Florida after attending funerals for loved ones

NEW YORK—Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been adamant following recent games that his team does not practice very much.

Whether it is sophomore Grayson Allen dealing with turf toe, Frank Jackson battling a sore foot of his own or Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden shaking off the rust, Duke has struggled finding enough bodies to hold practice.

But a pair of Duke’s best performers Tuesday were not at the team’s practice a day earlier for a different reason altogether.

“Yesterday, both Amile and Jayson were not with us. We had no practice yesterday with them because they were both at funerals for their loved ones,” Krzyzewski said. “Amile’s grandmother who helped raise him passed away and they had a funeral in Philadelphia. Jayson was in St. Louis for the funeral of his great-grandmother. For those kids to come back, we just haven’t practiced very much with injuries and all this.” Read more »

Duke AD Kevin White no longer enemies with son, Florida head coach Mike, after Jimmy V Classic

Duke AD Kevin White no longer enemies with son, Florida head coach Mike, after Jimmy V Classic

NEW YORK—Once the Gators wrapped up a 91-60 win against North Florida Thursday, Florida head coach Mike White knew that the next few days would bring a range of emotions to the table.

After 11 minutes of fielding the media’s questions following an 84-74 loss to No. 5 Duke Tuesday, White embraced his parents—Kevin and Jane White—with a giant hug, knowing that their time spent as opponents had ended.

“Heck, last night I would’ve loved to join them for dinner,” Mike White said. “I’m not sure dad would’ve invited me, as we’ve been enemies here for the last 48 hours. We haven’t spoken in the last couple days so I’ll be anxious to get 60 seconds with them before we all head back to the hotel.”

In the teams’ first matchup since 2000, the White family subplot was an intriguing link between programs that do not see each other on the court very often.  Read more »

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Jayson Tatum recorded his best game in a Duke uniform, but the fifth-ranked Blue Devils were carried yet again by graduate student Amile Jefferson and sophomore Luke Kennard, who combined for 53 points in an 84-74 victory against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden. At the end of a back-and-forth first half, Duke used a 15-3 run to pull away and head into halftime with a 41-31 lead. The win puts the Blue Devils at 9-1 on the season entering Saturday’s matchup at UNLV.   

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Protect the basketball: Tasked with protecting the ball against a stout defense that forces almost 17 turnovers a game, the Blue Devils performed moderately well, turning the ball over 13 times. No one individual was a consistent culprit for Duke, with seven different players registering at least one giveaway. The Blue Devils forced 13 Florida turnovers and finished the night with eight steals.
  • Hit 3-pointers: Looking to improve on its 3-point field-goal percentage—the Blue Devils ranked 146th in that category entering the game—Duke shot 7-for-17 from beyond the arc against the Gators. Kennard knocked down five of his seven attempts, backing up a 35-point performance against Maine with a 29-point effort Tuesday night. Florida almost surged back into the game by hitting multiple 3-pointers late in the game and went 6-for-11 from beyond the arc, but the Blue Devils’ lead proved to be too much.
  • Crash the glass: Without Marques Bolden and Harry Giles down low to start the season, the Blue Devils still found ways to outrebound opponents consistently, and the trend continued against the Gators. Duke outrebounded Florida 35-32 thanks to Jefferson, who matched a career high with 15 boards. The Blue Devils will look to include Bolden more moving forward in order to continue their success on the glass—the freshman center played just two minutes after racking up two early fouls.

Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Three Blue Devils scored at least 22 points in a game for the first time in more than 15 years to help No. 5 Duke beat No. 21 Florida 84-74 Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic. The Chronicle's Sameer Pandhare and Mitchell Gladstone broke down the big game for Luke Kennard, Amile Jefferson and Jayson Tatum from Madison Square Garden. The topics discussed can be viewed below.

0:23—How Tatum came off the bench to spark Duke's run to take control at the end of the first half

1:32—Why Kennard has surprised many as the Blue Devils' best player this season

3:16—Where Harry Giles will fit into the rotation when he returns from injury and why Marques Bolden sat on the bench for the entire second half Read more »

Halftime: Duke 41, Florida 31

NEW YORK—With Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson all active Tuesday, one wondered who would do the scoring damage for the Blue Devils.

But through 20 minutes, it has been the same duo that has carried Duke through much of the season. 

Led by sophomore Luke Kennard and graduate student Amile Jefferson, the No. 5 Blue Devils hold a 41-31 lead on No. 21 Florida at intermission in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The half was hotly-contested for almost the entire period, but Duke pulled away with a late 13-1 run to take control. 

After combining for 55 points Saturday against Maine, Kennard and Jefferson picked up where they left off. Jefferson has 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds against a strong Gator frontcourt, and Kennard added 13 points on 6-of-8 from the floor.  Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Duke will face a tough test Tuesday night against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the Jimmy V Classic. The Blue Devils are riding high on a six-game winning streak and just welcomed back freshman five-star recruits Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden in their last game against Maine. Here are three keys to success for Duke to triumph against the Gators:

Protect the Basketball

Florida's tough defense has fueled its early-season success, forcing an average of 16.9 turnovers per game. The Blue Devils have been careful with the ball thus far, only averaging 11.6 per game, but this will be the best defense Duke has faced this season besides Kansas. Senior guard Matt Jones will be depended on for his poise in the backcourt, and the Blue Devils’ customary three- or four-guard lineup will also combat the pressure defense by putting more players comfortable with handling the ball on the floor.

Hit 3-pointers

In Florida’s only loss this season against No. 8 Gonzaga, the Gators had trouble defending the 3-point line, allowing the Bulldogs to knock down 43.8 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. Duke has plenty of sharpshooters including Luke Kennard, who has been on fire to start the season. The sophomore is averaging 19.4 points per game and poured in a career-high 35 Saturday against Maine. Adding Tatum to the fold will only increase the Blue Devils’ potency, as the 6-foot-8 freshman is very comfortable behind the arc.

Crash the Glass

It is no secret that rebounding is often the key to winning basketball games. Duke has done an excellent job on the glass so far this year, outrebounding opponents by an average of 8.2 boards per game. Graduate Amile Jefferson has led the effort, averaging almost 10 rebounds a game, and now that Bolden is healthy, the Blue Devils have another option in the post. If the outside shots are not falling, it will be imperative that Duke crashes the glass for offensive rebounds to spark its offense.  Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Duke’s home win against Maine last Saturday was marked by the debuts of star freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. But with junior Grayson Allen and freshmen Frank Jackson sidelined for Saturday's contest, Tuesday’s matchup against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden will be a true test of the fifth-ranked Blue Devils’ chemistry. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Grayson Allen

After averaging 21.6 points per game last year and being named the 2016-17 ACC Preseason Player of the Year, Allen is not off to the start that Blue Devil fans envisioned. The junior guard is averaging 17.1 points per game so far but is shooting just 37.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Allen has also yet to play a regular-season game with five-star freshmen Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, who have all been dealing with early-season leg injuries.

While Tatum and Bolden saw action Saturday in a 94-55 win against Maine, Allen, who had been playing through a nagging toe injury, sat out to rest. If Allen is healthy enough to play Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if the time off and increased star power around him will elevate his game. Although the scoring trio of Allen, Tatum and sophomore guard Luke Kennard is formidable on paper, the Gators present a litmus test of how a healthier Duke team can mesh together. Read more »