Duke’s Surprise Strength: Amile Jefferson

Today’s Guest Contributor is Curtis Clontz

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Duke does not rebuild, they reload.  Each year new faces lace up the “kicks” and prepare to make another run at a title.  This strength also results in a weakness.  An inevitable lack of experience and a constant learning curve, it is extremely important to have some sort of tenure.

Amile Jefferson is arguably the best player that no one is talking about.

Did you know that he led Duke with a .644 field goal percentage last season ? He was also second on the team in blocks and rebounds per game.

No, he was not a monster.  He did not haunt anyone’s dreams with worries of a 30+ point game.  However, he filled the paint and played just as hard as anyone on the court each game.

The Devils have the best recruiting class in the country and are poised for another huge year.  Something more of an oddity these days, they will have experience everywhere.  Amile will play a huge role for this team.  Starting beside the Pre-Season Player of the Year in Jahlil Okafor, he will not be double-teamed.  He will not be anyone’s focus.  He simply will be a forgotten Post Man.  That is, until he starts averaging a “double-double” each night.

Let’s look at the signs …

Amile Jefferson will bring experience to the Post.  Almost fully recovered from hip surgery, he is getting stronger and quicker by the day.  Although he will be the senior most returning starter to play in the Post this season at Duke, it is the new guys that will help him grow.

Previously the student behind Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, he will now use Okafor to open the Lane.  As teams develop Game Plans to stop Okafor, it will open the Paint for Amile.  Understanding his role, he will look to dominate the Glass on each side of the Court.  He will be playing without the ball in his hand but making his shots count when he gets them.

The typical Duke role player, he will look to continue possessions by pulling down rebounds and getting easy dunks as his man slides away for the double-team on Okafor.  Additionally, as the ball is pushed through the Post, Duke will look to hit the open man on the perimeter.  As they swing the ball around the outside, it will continue to open more shots for Amile.  Both could result in big things for Duke.

Okafor will be the focal point for Duke from the start.  In one of the most odd statements in recent memory, Duke’s best player is a big man.  That being said, the combination of Okafor, Jefferson, and Winslow will provide Post depth and athleticism like Duke hasn’t seen in some time.

The best case scenario is that Okafor and Jefferson both average double digit in points, with Jefferson averaging close to 8-10 rebounds per game.  Duke has struggled with quick Guards who can get to the Lane and score on an easy bucket.  This will not be the case this year as there will be athletes in the way.

An intelligent post player that will be hungry to deliver a banner to Duke, Amile will be a bright spot.  When Coach K comes calling, you answer, and Coach K will make big things happen with Jefferson this season.

 ……………………………………………………

Having posted on CBS Sports, TheACC, and Raycom, Curtis is an experienced writer than has been around the block a time or two. Stopping by on occasion, he is an old friend to SDBB.  

A Military Veteran of 15 years, husband, and father, you can follow him at https://www.tsu.co/curtisclontz.

 

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