Take of the week: Day-Wilson's departure is not a huge blow for Duke women's basketball's future

Shayeann Day-Wilson announced Monday that she will be transferring away from the Blue Devils.
Shayeann Day-Wilson announced Monday that she will be transferring away from the Blue Devils.

Despite Duke’s season coming to an end March 20 in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Colorado, the offseason has already been busy. Just three days after the defeat, redshirt junior guard Jordyn Oliver reportedly entered the transfer portal, and a few days later starting point guard Shayeann Day-Wilson followed suit, announcing her departure from the program on social media. 

Day-Wilson was one of the most important pieces on a Duke team that made an eight-spot leap in the ACC standings this season, and her loss will surely be felt. But with a combination of returning veteran talent and some promising incoming freshmen, the loss of the Royal Crown product may not be as big as it now seems.

The first thing to look at when discussing Day-Wilson’s impact this year is the numbers. She was named ACC Freshman of the Year in her first season, but was wildly inconsistent in her second. In her first 10 games in 2022-23, Day-Wilson averaged just 6.3 points per game and shot a subpar 24.1% from beyond the arc. While she did perform very well through the middle part of the season, Day-Wilson once again struggled down the stretch. In her last 11 matchups, she averaged a meager 4.9 points per game and shot just 9.7% from three. The Toronto native sat in the bottom quarter of players in effective field goal percentage during the 2022-23 campaign. In other words, Day-Wilson took shots like she was Duke’s primary offensive weapon. She was unafraid to jack up a deep stepback three or drive to the basket off of a screen, playing well above her 5-foot-6 stature. Unfortunately for her, the shots did not fall at anywhere close to an efficient clip, and it hurt the Blue Devils’ scoring as a result.

It is also true that Duke has another solid point guard already on the team to replace Day-Wilson. Junior Vanessa de Jesus has proven herself to be a consistent floor general and ball-dominant guard. While her numbers are less flashy and she only averaged five points per game this season, de Jesus was a much better player in the NCAA tournament than Day-Wilson could claim to be. The former put up eight and nine points in the first two rounds, respectively, while the latter logged three and four.

There is other returning talent that will help to fill any gaps on the team left by Day-Wilson’s departure. We can expect sophomore guard Reigan Richardson to step up as an off-ball weapon, especially if she improves her shot. She averaged 6.8 points per game this year as a starter. Freshman guard Ashlon Jackson, who came out of high school advertised as a 3-point shooter, can step into a role as a catch-and-shoot option. 

Of course, it would be ludicrous to mention returning players without giving Celeste Taylor a nod. The senior guard was the anchor of one of the best defenses in the country, and if she just plays at the same level that she did this year, this Duke team will be formidable. She sits in the 51st percentile for effective field goal percentage, on top of being one of the best defensive players in the country. 

In terms of incoming talent, the name to know next year will be Jadyn Donovan. The McDonald’s All-American is an athletic player with a solid shot and an impressive ability to finish at the rim. While she won’t be taking over ball-handling duties anytime soon, her finishing ability will help make up for Day-Wilson’s missing tenacity in the paint. 

Overall, Day-Wilson’s departure is not anything fans should stress about. At Duke, she was a solid point guard with a good supporting cast, and she played her role well. But she struggled when it mattered and her shot selection was sometimes subpar. Between returning players and incoming freshmen, the Blue Devils will have plenty of talent to make up for what they lost.


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