Duke men's basketball 2023-24 player preview: Jaylen Blakes

Jaylen Blakes is returning for his third season with the Blue Devils.
Jaylen Blakes is returning for his third season with the Blue Devils.

As the beginning of basketball season is near, the Blue Zone provides a detailed preview of each player on Duke men's basketball's 2023-24 roster. We've already looked at Stanley Borden, Spencer Hubbard, Neal Begovich, Jaden Schutt and Christian Reeves. Next up is junior guard Jaylen Blakes: 

Jaylen Blakes 

Year: Junior 

Height: 6-foot-2

Position: Guard 

Last year’s stat line: 13.2 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG 

Game breakdown: While the Blue Devils were expecting a greater contribution from Jaylen Blakes in his second season, head coach Jon Scheyer had to have been pleased with such a significant improvement. Entering his sophomore season, Blakes had recorded just 94 minutes, averaging one point per game. As a sophomore, Blakes cemented his role as a more consistent contributor to the team, appearing in 32 games and recording an impressive 422 minutes. 

Despite the team’s loss, Blakes’ most notable performance last season came Dec. 20 against Wake Forest. He put up a career-high 17 points and went 3-for-4 from deep. Such a display earned Blakes his first career start in the next game against Florida State, and he did not disappoint. The Somerset, N.J., native brought the energy back to Cameron, again going on to score 17 points and knocking down a career-high four three-pointers. Blakes was granted another start against N.C State and continued to put up solid minutes in ACC play. However, his hot streak proved to be short-lived. Following a practice injury, Blakes saw limited minutes through the rest of the season.  

Role on the team: With 53 games and a Final Four appearance under his belt, Blakes provides two key components: leadership and experience. While his offensive and defensive displays are impressive, it's his off-the-court character that proves crucial. The junior received the Glenn E. “Ted” Mann Award last year, which is given to the player that contributes most to team morale. The iconic 3D printed nose guard Blakes wore in games after sustaining a broken nose perfectly exemplifies his competitive and committed spirit.

Blakes’ defensive efforts cannot be lost in the recent success of his offensive numbers. His 37 defensive rebounds and 18 steals contributed to Duke’s backcourt game. The junior guard displayed glimpses of his potential before suffering his injury. With improvements in every aspect of the score sheet, Blakes will look to be a more significant contributor on both ends of the court.

NBA comparison: With his hard-working spirit and defensive capabilities, Blakes’ game can be compared to that of Gary Payton II. While the Warriors’ Guard doesn’t start many games, he comes in clutch in key moments. The Oregon State grad might not share the same vocal flair as Blakes, but his leadership as a senior helped establish a new generation of talent for Beaver basketball. Though playing time hasn’t always come easy for Payton, his motivation and leadership have never wavered. Similarly, Blakes has the opportunity to prove his worth even if his minutes don’t always reflect it. 

Projected stats: 4.8 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.1 APG


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