As the calendar shifts to November, it is becoming apparent that basketball season is on the horizon. That means that it is time for our player previews of every member of Duke men's basketball. Read the previous previews: Mike Buckmire, Michael Savarino and Kennan Worthington.
Last year’s statline: N/A
Game breakdown: Five-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield will be joining Duke’s star-studded freshman class this season. Ranked 31st overall and fourth in the nation at his position according to ESPN, the three-time West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year will be an excellent shooter and defensive player for the squad. Brakefield averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists his senior year at Huntington Prep.
Brakefield left his home state of Mississippi to attend Huntington Prep in West Virginia to avoid becoming solely a post player, and that is exactly what he did. While he is quite capable of scoring around the wing and the post, he also has skill around the perimeter, where his shooting ability will make him difficult to defend.
A versatile player, he also stretches the court considerably well, and his natural athleticism will allow him to also be a defensive asset for the team. As his explosiveness develops, he will be able to defend almost anyone on a fast break.
Role on the team: Brakefield’s shooting ability and defensive skills make him an easy choice to play as a power forward. With his impressive ball handling talents, he will be a safe bet to garner a decent amount of playing time throughout the season.
As we have seen in recent years, Duke likes to have as many shooters from as many spots on the court as possible, and Brakefield can certainly fill that role. Though he has a lot of raw talent, many recruiting analysts are unsure whether his game will translate effectively to the college game early on in the season.
Nonetheless, his well-rounded skill set should give him a chance to warrant significant minutes as the season progresses.
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Given the numerous similarities between Brakefield and returning sophomore Matthew Hurt, Brakefield will likely see minutes later in games. That being said, he and fellow freshman Jalen Johnson both played for Phenom University together on the Nike EBYL circuit two summers ago, so when they’re both on the court, there is no doubt the two of them will have chemistry.
NBA comparison: While Brakefield could be compared to numerous NBA players, the one most similar to him at the time is Pascal Siakam. Brakefield’s ability to stretch the floor as a power forward with perimeter abilities is reminiscent of Siakam. Both players typically find themselves playing at the post or at the wing, but certainly have three-point shooting ability. While Brakefield still needs major development to reach Siakam’s level, expect to see some similarities between the two early on.
Predicted stats: 6.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 13.0 MPG