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Film room: Analyzing Duke men's basketball wing Jacob Grandison

Jacob Grandison started 23 games for Illinois in the 2021-22 season.
Jacob Grandison started 23 games for Illinois in the 2021-22 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, Dereck Lively II, Christian Reeves, Kyle Filipowski and Tyrese Proctor. Next, let’s take a look at Jacob Grandison:

Upon the end of the Fighting Illini’s 2021-22 campaign, Jacob Grandison declared for the 2022 NBA draft.  Amid all uncertainty and perhaps helpless optimism, he eventually chose to withdraw. Instead, he entered the transfer portal.

Now Grandison, accoutred in Duke’s distinct blue, is set to take his final steps toward his goal of playing NBA basketball, and he is surely hoping that head coach Jon Scheyer and Duke will be the genie that grants him his life-long wish. Grandison’s teammates, his coaching staff and the Cameron Crazies alike are hoping he has what it takes to help Duke reach its own goal: winning its sixth national championship.

In his final year of eligibility, the 24-year-old guard out of Illinois will look to make an immediate impact on the floor. In the 2021-22 season, the Oakland, Calif., native averaged 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 25 minutes of play per game. 

Expect his biggest contributions to come from the offensive end of the floor—more specifically, from beyond the arc. The sharpshooter has a strong jump shot that he wields often and is quick to pull the trigger from anywhere on the floor, whether off the catch-and-shoot or a hand-off from a big man. He finished his final season at Illinois with an impressive 41% three-point percentage and 37% from three thus far in his college career. 

Grandison sticks to the basics from deep. Most of his trey attempts are not from intricate dribbles or overreaching stepback shots. Rather, much like a predator eyeing its prey, he quietly probes the opposing defense and patiently waits. With a quick touch of the ball and a flick of the wrist, he makes his opponents pay—whether it be a wide-open corner triple or a quick shot with a defender in his face. 

Grandison offers more than spot-up threes. His 6-foot-6, 185-pound stature gives him a considerable size advantage against smaller shooting guards. At the same time, his length and athleticism help him fluidly weave through bigger defenders when needed. 

The guard is an established three-level scorer that knows how to use his body and agility to blow by and finish against any defender. The cherry on top—his soft touch around the rim that helps him capitalize on his takes to the rack. 

If, and when, a defender steps up high to prevent an easy trey, he slips behind them for an easy open look in the paint. There are also many moments in which he makes a hard cut to the rim for a handoff or an easy dish from a driving teammate. 

Grandison doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make a difference. He doesn’t commit many turnovers off unnecessary dribbles or selfish plays; a key weapon that doesn’t need touches to be successful. The perfect piece for a star-stacked Duke team. 

It’s clear that “Slim Jake,” as he calls himself, is going to be a key part of Scheyer’s inaugural rotation as Duke’s head coach: it’s only a question of how. He has the potential to be a much-needed veteran influence starting at the number two spot, or a proficient scoring option for the team’s second unit. Only time will tell. 


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