GREENSBORO, N.C. – Duke guard Frank Jackson was rewarded on Monday for his big opening weekend, earning ACC Freshman of the Week honors in a vote by media members who cover the league.
The Alpine, Utah, native averaged 19.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 25.0 minutes per game as Duke defeated Marist on Friday and Grand Canyon on Saturday to open the 2016-17 season. Jackson finished the first weekend of the season ranked second on the team in scoring and tied for the team lead in steals.
He was also efficient on the offensive end, shooting .520 (13-of-25) from the floor, .500 (5-of-10) from the arc and .800 (8-of-10) from the free throw line.
Jackson debuted with a team-high 18 points, a team-high four assists and a game-high four steals in Duke’s win over Marist on Friday night. Roughly 20 hours later, he put up 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including a 4-of-6 performance from long distance, in the Blue Devils’ defeat of Grand Canyon.
Top-ranked Duke is set for a Champions Classic clash with No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. ESPN will televise the event with Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Maria Taylor on the call. The Blue Devil IMG Sports Network will carry the game on the radio waves.
The Duke Blue Devils came away with back to back victories over Marist and Grand Canyon over the weekend. Here is my two game review, followed by player notes and thoughts.
Duke 94 Marist 49
Short handed or not, Duke was just too athletic for Marist in their opener. The opening game of a two game set in the Hall of Fame Tip Off went as expected with the Blue Devils winning big. Duke had a sluggish start but then adjusted offensively score 54 first half points. The Blue Devils were able o go to their bench in the second half earning bench players lots of playing time. Antonio Vrankovic came away with a game high 10 rebounds while true freshman Frank Jackson led the team in scoring with 18 points. Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard added 16 each.
Duke 96 Grand Canyon 61
Grayon Allen turned in a Player of the Year worthy stat line of 25 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists as the Blue Devils cruised against a much tougher opponent than in their opener. Duke rarely played beyond six men int his game as Mike Krzyzewski's bench shortened with Kansas coming up tomorrow in the Champions Classic in New York City. The Blue Devils showed man to man, traps and zone while accumulating an impressive 14 steals. The Duke defense also had 8 blocked shots in the game despite being short-handed up front.
Do not expect Bolden, Giles or Tatum this week
The injuries to Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles will keep the former prep All Americans out versus Kansas for sure. In fact, don't expect any of them back during the two game Hall of Fame Tip Off at the Mohegan Sun Arena as well. Duke will move cautiously with concern to a return and the what you see now as a team is what you get or the forseeable future. The good news is that Duke can win with this team according to Krzyzewski and we'll find out this week.
There is an uptick in the play of Luke Kennard
If you are wondering who has played more minutes than any other Duke player thus far, the answer is Luke Kennard. There has been an uptick of improvement in Kennards game which has led Krzyzewski to say is has been their most consistent player in the pre season. Kennard is averaging 15.5 ppg and pulling down 7 rebounds per contest. He's playing bigger and stronger which bodes well for Duke.
Frank Jackson is the real deal
After his second collegiate game, Jackson is averaging 19.5 ppg. That's impressive . He has successfully mastered running the point in unison with Matt Jones, Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard to date. Now, the question is how will he handle the defense of a solid Kansas backcourt in the Madison Square Garden spotlight.
The old guys
Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones are the heart and soul of the spunk Duke will need while the team battles injuries. Jones had a very solid outing against Grand Canyon and they will need him to step his game up another notch this week. Jefferson is currently in Divinity School at Duke as a graduate senior. He has picked up where he left off a season ago averaging a near double-double. Like Jones, they will need his play to be top-notch as teams will start to focus on the trio of Allen, Jackson and Kennard.
Will the real Chase Jeter please stand up
Thrust into the starting lineup at center, Chase Jeter has been a tale of two games thus far in the season. Against Marist he tallied 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots with no turnovers. Against Grad Canyon his numbers sank to 3 points and 2 rebounds. However his blocked shots went up at 3 and he had 3 steals. The Duke staff is seeking consistency from their capable sophomore.
The defense never rests
After two games the Duke defense is forcing opponents into 17.5 turnovers per outing. The Blue Devils are also averaging 11.5 steals per game where Matt Jones leads the team with 3.0 per contest.
After the Duke Blue Devis 94-49 win over Marist, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said there was no timetable for the return of his injured players.
If you live under a rock you may not realize that three prized freshman in Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden have yet to play for Duke this season. Giles is coming off serious knee injury, while Bolden and Tatum's are less severe.
''It wasn't an event. Some times you wake up and there is something you haven't noticed. it's a lower leg but it's too difficult to explain. He's getting better but we have to be careful not to get these guys coming back to soon,'' said Krzyzewski when questioned about Bolden's injury.
''Jayson is doing great. I thought we put him in practice a little too soon and that hurt him, so we're just going to shut those guys down for a while. We can't go through a whole year with lingering injuries,'' stated Krzyzewski.
He continued on his plans on the injury by saying, ''i'm going to be adamant about taking a longer time than a shorter time, no matter what.''
Duke takes on Grand Canyon tomorrow in Cameron just mere hours from now. After that game, they will travel to New York City on Tuesday where they take on Kansas.
One of the nation's top sharpshooters, Gary Trent Jr. also known as G-Money, selected the Duke Blue Devils on ESPNU over Michigan State and UCLA. Trent is a fill it up offensive standout who some say is a basket waiting to happen.
''At Duke it’s the brotherhood there and Coach K showing me the things that I can do there. With Coach K, everything is top of the line,'' said Trent before donning a Duke cap. He continued, “He wants me to come in and be who I am. He wants me to play my game. He wants my ego. Bring my whole package with me and be ready to play.”
Trent Jr. joins Alex O'Connell in a two-man class thus far in the early campaign. Much like other Duke players past, he had a strong connection to USA Basketball. He also played AAU Basketball for Howard Pulley which produced Tyus Jones and has another Duke prospect for one season from now in Tre Jones.
The second player to be for Duke a season from now, visited Duke in an official capacity for Countdown to Craziness. There, he joined his good friend Wendell Carter, who will be making his decision any day now as well.
The two could form yet another package deal for Duke and they will not stop recruiting there, for they're in hot pursuit of Coleman, Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bamba. Both Trent Jr. and Carter Jr. sported Duke caps on their visit.
Trent is a consensus top ten or better pick and stands 6-5 weighing in at a legitimate 200 pounds. He has a knack for scoring and opening the ga me up for teammates as teams concentrate on him.
As good as Trent is today, his game is still evolving where he hopes to become a triple threat player. He has a good first step and can finish with both hands around the basket. Also worth noting is that he is the son of Gary Trent, who had a successful NBA career.
Trent is a high-octane scorer with a tough mentality. I have seen his work ethic up close and personal on the Nile EYBL Circuit where he drills in between games instead of socializing. During the games he scores the ball in a variety of ways, but may be best off the dribble at this stage in his career. He also has the tools to become a good lock down defender with some more coaching and work.
This week will be quite the busy one for Duke fans. Many will start out the week paying attention to election day. Then on Thursday, Duke takes on arch rival UNC in football in Wallace Wade Stadium. Add to that back to back games to open the basketball season with Marist and Grand Canyon in Cameron which translates into three games in as many days.
Now, there is more on the slate for one of the top recruits in the nation in Gary Trent Jr. said he will announce his collegiate decision on Thursday. That decision can be seen on ESPNU at 6 p.m. prior to kickoff of the football game.
Trent is a 6-5 200 pound shooting guard who can fill it up from various spots on the court. He is a consensus top ten prospect who is known as a hard worker.
He has been offered by Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan State and UCLA. He has visited Duke both officially and unofficially in the past and has been considered a Duke lean by myself for some time now.
Just today, his friend, Wendell Carter Jr., a bruising front court prospect out of Georgia is rumored to be making his announcement during the early period as well. Carter is down to Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harvard and Duke.
Many have speculated that Carter and Trent would be a part of a package deal. Both donned white Duke caps during the recent Countdown to Craziness while standing with the Cameron Crazies.
Mike Krzyzewski and his staff have remained very involved with both young men by making them priority recruits. Considering what Duke has to offer as a school and program coupled with what is sure to be mass defections into the NBA from the current roster, it would be hard for me not be anything other than highly confident here.
If they do indeed commit, they would join Alex O'Connell making it a three-man class to date. The early signing period runs from November the 9th through the 16th. There is a possibility that another Duke prospect Matt Coleman could choose between Texas and Duke early. But my latest information says he may opt for spring.
Duke is also recruiting two other big time prospects in Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bamba. Both of those prospects are on record saying they will wait for the late period. However, in recruiting, things can change in quick fashion.
Should Duke land two verbal commitments from coveted prospects in Trent and Carter, they could then put their focus on the three remaining prospects. And you never know if another name or two might creep in as more information is gathered during the season progresses.
Two Duke starters from this years team will graduate in Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson. It is also believed that several underclassmen will leave as well as early NBA entrants.
Below is a recent tweet from Gary Trent Jr. and a picture of them during Countdown to Craziness in Cameron Indoor Stadium.