As the college basketball season looms, it's finally time for the Blue Zone to preview the 2022-23 Duke women's basketball roster. We previously looked at Bo Shaffer, Emma Schmidt, Jiselle Havas, Lee Volker, Imani Lewis and Emma Koabel. Here is Vanessa de Jesus:
Vanessa de Jesus
2021-22 statline: 4.2 PPG, 2.5 APG, 19.6 MPG
Game breakdown: De Jesus’ freshman campaign highlighted her shooting capabilities, where she ended Duke’s shortened four-game season averaging 12 points per game and a 54.5% field goal percentage. But her sophomore season was more a testament to her playmaking abilities as a point guard, finishing with 2.3 assists per game and tying a career-high eight assists against Clemson in February. Her knack for seeing the court extends to her defensive play, too, as the California native picked up 14 steals last season and picked up a game-winning steal in the same matchup against Clemson. Head coach Kara Lawson has continuously spoken highly of de Jesus’ composure ever since her collegiate debut in 2020, an asset that allows her to so precisely find open shooters and maneuver around defensive traps to keep the offense moving.
But the junior didn’t see the court as much as she did her freshman season, losing her starting position to then-freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson, Canada’s top point guard and the former No. 41 recruit in the 2021 class. Despite this, she proved her ability to come in off the bench to pick up the slack for the Blue Devils when they were struggling to shoot well or get an offense going, a testament to what she brings to Duke’s depth.
Role on the team: Now with a year of collegiate play under her belt, it’s likely that Day-Wilson will again hit the ground running as Duke’s starting point guard, leaving de Jesus to fill the role when Day-Wilson needs a few minutes of rest on the bench or is struggling to find the basket. She will definitely find time on the court during lopsided games or as the Blue Devils play around with their rotation during the non-conference schedule, but Lawson—who has discussed how she likes to rotate in players from the bench to “keep the pace high”—will also rely on her to come off the bench and put some pep in Duke’s step when shooting or playmaking is slow. Despite how her role has changed, fans will likely still see a good bit of de Jesus this season.
Projected stats: 5 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.8 APG
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Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.