As November nears, 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. Next up is freshman Jaylen Blakes. Read the previous previews here: Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Keenan Worthington, Michael Savarino and Bates Jones.
Last year’s stat line: N/A
Game breakdown: Blakes was a powerhouse on Blair Academy’s team and a key piece of a winning culture. As a sophomore, he came off the bench in the state championship game to be his team’s leading scorer with 27 points, capping off a second half comeback that earned the win for Blair, which featured both Blakes and Duke junior Keenan Worthington. While his senior season succumbed to the pandemic, he averaged 18.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while hitting 35% from three during his junior year.
Blakes is a solid all-around guard. His 3-point shooting and driving ability are strong, meaning he can score from anywhere. He is also incredibly quick, as he can beat defenders with his first step. While not very big, his speed and athleticism, along with great ball handling, make him hard to stop.
Role on the team: Blakes has two excellent guards ahead of him in sophomore Jeremy Roach and fellow freshman Trevor Keels. As a later addition to this year’s class, he is somewhat of an odd man out of the hyped freshman trio of Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, and Keels. Blakes will likely be playing off the bench this season barring any unforeseen circumstances, but he provides some depth in the backcourt and can be counted on when needed.
Blakes is a young player, and this year should provide him with the time and space to develop his passing ability and basketball IQ. He will likely see time some playing time, and has the potential to be an explosive off-the-bench player that head coach Mike Krzyzewski can count on, priming him for a starting spot next year in Coach Jon Scheyer’s debut lineup.
NBA comparison: Last season with the Boston Celtics, the now-New York Knicks star Kemba Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 36.0% from three. Both Walker and Blakes are explosive scorers with winning mindsets. While their current roles are different, their playing styles are similar. If Blakes continues to improve and earns himself a starting spot, whether this season or at any point in his Duke career, he has the potential to become the dominant point guard and strong scorer that Walker has proved himself to be.
Projected stat line: 2.3 PPG, 1.1 APG, 10 MPG
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.