Film room: Taking a look at Duke women's basketball guard Jadyn Donovan

Jadyn Donovan is head coach Kara Lawson's highest ranked recruit to date.
Jadyn Donovan is head coach Kara Lawson's highest ranked recruit to date.

After exceeding expectations a season ago, Duke women's basketball is bringing in an elite group of talent from the recruiting trail and the transfer portal. The Blue Zone will analyze film on each of the newcomers for the 2023-24 season. We've already seen Camilla Emsbo, next up is Jadyn Donovan:

Jadyn Donovan – a 6-foot guard out of Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC – is Kara Lawson’s highest ranked recruit in her tenure as head coach, coming in at third nationally in ESPN’s rank. On a team that will certainly feel the void left by Celeste Taylor’s surprising departure, Donovan will likely play a big role in Duke’s upcoming campaign. 

Donovan joins a backcourt with returning guards Ashlon Jackson, Reigan Richardson and Vanessa de Jesus, along with newcomers Taina Mair, a transfer from Boston College, and incoming four-star freshman Oluchi Okananwa. While Donovan may be slated to come off of the bench to begin the season, she has the potential to become the Blue Devils’ best two-way player. 

With a strong midrange game coupled with an elite on-ball defensive presence, Donovan’s game is built for the ACC stage. Donovan averaged a team-high 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per-game in her senior season with Sidwell Friends School. In her final game, the DCSAA state final, Donovan poured in 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead her team to victory. 

In this star-studded showdown against Montverde, Donovan displayed her ability to create jumpshots off the dribble. Watch how Donovan uses her quickness to gain a step on her defender, then pull back for a contested jumper. (2:08)

Even in her junior year, Donovan’s midrange talent was apparent. In the 2022 Girls Basketball Invitational Championship game clip shown below, Donovan doesn’t settle for the three point shot, but uses a hesitation to step into a midrange look. (3:55)

In that same game, Donovan’s defensive prowess could be noticed. In the example below, look out for her ability to read the pass, come up with an interception and find an outlet teammate. (4:02)

While Donovan has an elite midrange shot, her three-point jumper was not a strength. However, the guard showed growth from behind-the-arc in her senior year. Looking towards her freshman year in Durham, Donovan projects to be a critical piece in Lawson’s defensive and offensive schemes. After all, Donovan’s athleticism will lend itself nicely to her head coach’s full-court press. 

Stepping onto the court as a freshman isn’t easy – the aforementioned Jackson was a five-star recruit and averaged a mere 13.3 minutes per game. Nevertheless, Donovan is an elite enough athlete to play herself into Lawson’s system and contribute to the Blue Devils’ quest to get back into the NCAA tournament.  


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