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, Christian Reeves, Jaylen Blakes, TJ Power and Ryan Young. Next up is freshman forward Sean Stewart:
Last year’s stat line: N/A
Game breakdown: While most of Duke’s four freshmen stand out for their elite shooting and agility, Sean Stewart’s strength and athleticism in the power forward position makes him an essential player for the Blue Devils this season. The Montverde Academy alum recently broke Duke’s vertical jump record held by Zion Williamson, measuring at 36.0 inches. This athletic skillset and reach will certainly be useful for head coach Jon Scheyer’s second unit both on offense and defense.
Offensively, Stewart is an excellent screener and uses his abilities to feed off the lobs from agile guards. This will be valuable for the Blue Devils when going against teams looking for mismatches. Athleticism aside, the Windermere, Fla., native is a decent midrange shooter from either side of the post. He can also work against centers and power forwards alike and is excellent at recognizing cutters. In a collegiate game that doesn’t rely as much on the 3-point shot and more on post-ups, this will be key for the Duke offense moving forward.
Stewart’s added value is most apparent on the other side of the court. As a senior playing for Montverde Academy alongside five-star recruit Cooper Flagg, he demonstrated his ability to dominate the boards defensively and is capable of guarding almost every position. Coupled with elite shot blocking, Stewart will look to be one of the best defensive freshmen in the country.
Role on the team: As an incoming freshman and forward, Stewart will likely take up a significant role for the secondary unit behind sophomore Mark Mitchell. He will look to divide playing time with fellow freshman TJ Power, who is a stronger 3-point shooter and can space the floor more. Scheyer could play Stewart alongside classmates Jared McCain and Caleb Foster, who are excellent in the pick-and-roll.
The team will likely take advantage of the Floridian’s defensive prowess in order to boost the Blue Devils defensively once the starters leave the floor. As Mitchell looks to generate more offense this year and embrace a bigger role, it will be Stewart’s job to get the dirty work done on defense. He will be an important piece in the roster on both ends of the floor and gives Scheyer a versatile option for the power forward position.
NBA comparison: Detroit Pistons’ center Jalen Duren’s athleticism and elite pick-and-roll game is similar to Stewart’s skillset in many ways. Coming off a rookie campaign which saw him earn a starting spot for the Pistons, Duren is a 6-foot-11 player known for his dominance on the boards and his imposing strength. Similarly, Stewart will look to control the boards for Duke this season and gain most of his points from the post and the pick-and-roll. Both players are able to use their agility and size to protect the paint as well, which make them solid defensive assets.
Projected stats: 20.1 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.1 APG
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