Frank Jackson shined after earning a starting spot for the last month of the year, with his clutch ...

Duke men's basketball 2016-17 player review: Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson

Season Breakdown:

Frank Jackson had an up-and-down freshman year, often showcasing his massive potential but plagued by inconsistent play. After a strong start to the season, Jackson became somewhat lost in the shuffle for months as several Blue Devils returned from injury. He earned a late-season promotion to the starting lineup, though, thanks to his tough defense and playmaking ability in addition to junior Grayson Allen's left ankle injury.

Jackson received a lot of playing time early and thrived with Duke's other three five-star freshmen sidelined by injuries, scoring in double figures in the first eight games of the season. This included a crucial 3-pointer to tie the game late against Kansas and a few big plays to key a game-breaking 11-0 run against Michigan State. The freshman was unstoppable at times, using his superior athleticism to explode past defenders and finish at the rim.

But the Alpine, Utah, native hit a rough patch as fellow freshman Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles returned to action and his minutes shrunk. Jackson struggled to adjust to the more physical and competitive ACC, and his shooting percentages dropped as he was held without a basket from the field in several games.

The freshman had a late-season emergence from his slump in the Blue Devils’ rematch against Florida State at home. He was instrumental in the win, scoring a career-high 22 points—including 13 of Duke’s 15 points during a second-half run to put the game to bed. He continued this strong play through the ACC tournament as the Blue Devils won the championship and then into the NCAA tournament.

Results relative to expectations:

Coming into the year, Jackson was expected to serve as a secondary option for Duke since the Blue Devils already possessed a trio of talented returning guards. He managed to carve out a valuable role for himself as a sparkplug off the bench who was capable of taking over games for short periods. Jackson’s defense also lived up to expectations, as he was often tasked with shadowing one of the opponent’s top perimeter players.

Sophomore Luke Kennard’s star turn coupled with Allen having already proven himself meant that Jackson’s minutes were naturally limited, but even then, the freshman showed flashes of his bright future. Jackson will likely enter next season primed for a leap in production and could be one of Duke’s primary stars. 

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