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.
Duke women’s basketball: The Blue Devils are riding high following a 74-63 upset victory against No. 3 South Carolina last Sunday to move to 9-1 on the season. Redshirt junior guard Rebecca Greenwell scored 29 points in the contest, and No. 21 Duke entered the AP poll a day later for the first time since midway through last season.
After missing the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 1994, the Blue Devils’ first win against a top-five team since 2013 came at the right time. Led by Greenwell’s 21.6 points per game and junior guard Lexie Brown’s 16.2 points per game, Duke may be primed for a big season ahead.
Family relations: Duke athletic director Kevin White happens to be the father of Florida head coach Mike White, and tensions were high when the two programs faced off last Tuesday. However, the two claim that their short time as enemies is over, and the father-son duo found time to catch up at Madison Square Garden in New York after the game.
Bear Market—Trending Down
Grayson Allen’s scoring: After averaging 21.6 points per game last year, Allen was expected to be a contender for National Player of the Year and possibly the leading scorer on this Duke team. But Allen has been averaging 15.9 points per game so far—good for third on the team—on just 35.7 percent shooting. In his most recent performance against Florida, the 6-foot-5 junior managed to hit only two of his 10 shots and finished with six points.
With Tatum emerging as a potent scorer for the Blue Devils and freshman center Marques Bolden finally healthy enough to play, Allen’s scoring opportunities will continue to diminish, especially when Giles also returns. The Jacksonville, Fla., native, who has been playing through a case of turf toe, needs to improve his efficiency if he is to match last year’s numbers.