Film room: Analyzing Duke men's basketball center Christian Reeves

Christian Reeves will likely redshirt the 2022-23 season.
Christian Reeves will likely redshirt the 2022-23 season.

A new era of Duke men's basketball is on the horizon, and with it comes an almost entirely new roster. In this series, the Blue Zone analyzes film on each of the Blue Devils' new signees and transfers for the 2022-23 season. We previously looked at Kale Catchings, Ryan Young, Jaden Schutt, Mark Mitchell, Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II. Next, let’s take a look at Christian Reeves:

Christian Reeves has been one of the less discussed members of this year’s recruiting class and even though he might not suit up for the Blue Devils right away, he has the potential to be a key player for years to come.

Reeves will most likely redshirt for the 2022-23 season, allowing him to focus on improving his game without using a year of eligibility. Though Duke fans might not see him on the court this season, there is a lot to be excited about in the future. The 6-foot-11, four-star center was ranked No. 5 in North Carolina by ESPN, and averaged 9.2 points on an efficient 63.9% shooting clip and 7.4 rebounds in 29 games during his senior year at Oak Hill Academy. Reeves is a talented defender, scores well in the post, uses his size to his advantage and shows good instincts and flashes of a high basketball IQ.

In the following video, Reeves scores in the paint several times using post moves, positioning and his size. One such move is when he drop-steps and dribbles to get into the paint, turns and shoots over his defender to score and draw a foul. He uses a simple post move very effectively to create a great scoring opportunity and snag some points in the paint. Later, Reeves’ defender is forced to help stop a drive. Reeves recognizes he is open, steps into the paint under the low block to get in prime scoring position and dunks after receiving the pass. Shortly after, he dunks again after positioning himself to get to the hoop unopposed. Realizing his defender is out of position, he gets between his defender and the basket, uses a post seal to keep his defender behind him, gets in position to receive the pass and takes advantage of a wide open dunk opportunity. While Reeves is offensively talented in the paint, his basketball IQ is a valuable asset that allows him to create opportunities for himself and exploit opponents’ weaknesses and mistakes.

In one of the best highlights from Oak Hill’s game against Sunrise Christian Academy, Reeves shows some very intelligent play off the ball. As Caleb Foster (No. 3 in yellow and fellow Duke commit) drives into the paint, Reeves sets a screen on Foster’s defender, causing confusion among the defenders. A guard on the wing and a forward protecting the paint are forced to guard Foster, opening up an easy backdoor cut and dunk for Oak Hill. This was a very well-oiled play by Oak Hill, featuring a crucial screen from Reeves, which demonstrates his good off-ball instincts and ability to effectively execute plays. 

Not only is Reeves a capable scorer and smart player in the post, he is also a good defender in the paint and can stay with smaller, faster players outside of it. In the following clip, Reeves has to switch onto a player just inside the three point line. Getting bigs to switch onto more agile perimeter players is a common offensive tactic, but Reeves held his own in the mismatch, keeping his opponent from driving to the paint and contesting his mid-range jumper. Reeves later puts his 7-foot-5 wingspan to good use to block a layup after an attempted baseline drive. His jumping ability stands out as he blocks the shot close to the rim and gets a clean block without committing a shooting or blocking foul.

Reeves can also step up defensively when a game is on the line. With only 25.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter in the above clip, Reeves prevents Sunrise Christian from gaining a two-possession lead by blocking a layup attempt and giving his team a chance to tie the game. One of his weaknesses defensively is a tendency to make mistakes if he is outside the paint for an extended period of time, but Reeves compensates with his interior presence and can still guard more agile players briefly on a switch. Overall, not only is Christian Reeves a talented defender, he shows good instincts and steps up when it matters most.

Reeves is a talented rebounder as well, a crucial skill for any center. He already uses his long frame to rebound well, but will only improve as he gets stronger and continues to hone his basketball IQ. Although Reeves doesn’t get the rebound in the following video, he boxes his opponent out, pushing him further under the basket, so Reeves will be in the best position to get a rebound.

In the next clip, Reeves does a similarly great job getting in position to rebound the ball after missing the first opportunity, and being strong with the ball as two defenders briefly apply pressure before going to the other end of the court. He stays calm in a strong stance with his elbows out and passes to a guard to go back the other way.

Though Reeves will probably take a year to focus on developing his game before his debut for the Blue Devils, he is an exciting prospect with the talent to be an impactful player for the next few years if he can fulfill his potential.


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