With the college basketball season just around the corner, the time has officially come to take a deeper look at the 2021-22 Duke women's basketball roster. The Blue Zone has you covered with player previews for each member of the team. Be sure to check out the previous previews: Jiselle Havas, Emma Schmidt, Lee Volker, Amaya Finklea-Guity, Onome Akinbode-James, Nyah Green, Miela Goodchild, Shayeann Day-Wilson, Imani Lewis, Lexi Gordon, Celeste Taylor and Vanessa de Jesus.
Last year’s statline: 5.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 19.6 MPG (Louisville)
Game breakdown: Balogun is a supremely talented player with a wide skillset—as evidenced by her time with Nigeria’s Olympic team this summer—and has star potential this season. Judging by her time at Louisville and Georgia Tech, Balogun's biggest strengths are undoubtedly her defensive capabilities and scoring tendencies.
Last season, Balogun chipped in with a ridiculous 43 blocks (third-most in the ACC) and recorded at least one block in 19 of the 29 games she played. She registered 1.5 blocks per game and 0.9 steals per game en route to the Cardinals’ Elite Eight berth, all while cementing herself as one of the NCAA’s most efficient and effective defensive forces. Balogun is capable of shutting down opposing offenses by herself and will surely act as a defensive stopper for head coach Kara Lawson this season.
On the other side of the court, Balogun has also proven to be a lethal offensive weapon and a capable scorer from inside and outside the paint. She registered 10 straight games with a three-pointer and hit double-digits in eight games last year, including a 14-point showing against Clemson and a 10-point performance against North Carolina. In addition, she notched 48 assists on the season and 28 offensive rebounds, both among the best on Louisville’s roster. Perhaps most daunting for opponents is the fact that last year was actually her least productive offensive season to date following scoring averages of 8.1 points and 14.6 points in her sophomore and freshman seasons, respectively. If Balogun replicates last year’s defensive form and optimizes her scoring touch, she is going to be incredibly hard to stop.
Role on the team: It is hard to see Balogun as anything but a starter this season. She is one of the more experienced names on Duke’s roster and provides a veteran leadership that will surely prove invaluable to the Blue Devils. Despite her relatively disappointing 2020-21 season (at least from a scoring standpoint), her defensive game was arguably the best it’s ever been and she’s coming off of a successful NCAA tournament run and the Tokyo Olympics over the summer. She is about as close to a professional-caliber player as Duke has; Balogun will be a key cog in the team’s system as they begin the Lawson era in earnest following last year’s hiatus.
Do not be surprised if Balogun's scoring numbers tick up this season and her defensive contributions remain solid. Since arriving at Duke, she has already expressed an eagerness to be part of a winning culture, something Lawson needs if Duke wants to come out of the gates firing. Balogun is an exciting new addition for the Blue Devils and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Projected stats: 6.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 21.0 MPG
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