Ahead of Coach K's final season, Duke men's basketball is bringing in several new players to Durham. In this series, we analyze film on each of the Blue Devils' new signees and transfers for the 2021-22 season. Previously, we took a look at Bates Jones and Theo John. Next up, we look at Jaylen Blakes.
Duke basketball’s impressive third-ranked 2021 recruiting class per ESPN is headlined by a trio of five-star prospects in Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels. But the fourth and final incoming freshman—four-star combo guard Jaylen Blakes—may just be the piece that completes this year’s recruiting puzzle.
With both Jordan Goldwire and DJ Steward set to move on from the Brotherhood this season, the 6-foot-2 Blakes helps fill a need in the backcourt alongside Keels and rising sophomore Jeremy Roach. The Blair Academy product is likely to be the odd man out of those three, but he brings a scoring punch and uptempo approach that are sure to serve the second unit well in his time on the floor.
Right off the bat, Blakes’ nose for the basket is more than evident. He is an eager driver, an even tougher finisher and has a pull-up game from long range that all combine to make him a truly dangerous scorer from just about anywhere on the floor. Above all, though, Blakes’ explosiveness and showmanship adds an element to the Duke offense that was notably lacking in 2020-21. Watch how effortlessly and suddenly Blakes is able to create for himself, and consider how his fearless nature might translate to the college level.
To succeed at the next level, however, Blakes is going to have to do more than just score. As a guard whose passing ability doesn’t truly stand out, the Somerset, N.J., native’s adept ball handling becomes all the more important to his hopes in a Blue Devil uniform. Luckily, Blakes boasts a handle capable of complementing his downhill offensive mindset and ultimately elevating his game when the shots aren’t falling. His first step is quick enough to leave defenders grasping at air and Blakes with an open lane to the hoop.
Like so many other high school basketball stars, Blakes will have to adjust to the reality that he is no longer his team’s primary scoring option. As such, he will have to find a way to impact the game without soaking up the ball, and while that has not been a strong suit for Blakes in the past, his handle and shooting are positive signs for the future.
Overall, every bit of film suggests that the Blue Devils are getting a well-rounded, smart and flashy scorer in Jaylen Blakes, and that is something that every team can use.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.