Freshmen are a big part of college basketball, some can make or break a program’s chances at winning an NCAA title. Most recently, Kentucky won the national title almost solely because of their young players. Since these young players have recently only stayed in school for one season, it makes recruiting these men extremely important for a team’s success. Duke landed ESPN’s #2 prospect of the 2013 season in potential superstar Jabari Parker. Lost in the fold are two other very good players in small forward Semi Ojeleye and guard Matt Jones. Here is some background on these rookies and how they can impact this year’s squad:
Matt Jones is a 6-4 combo guard from DeSoto, Texas. At DeSoto High School, Jones averaged almost 20 points per game as a senior. There is no question that he can shoot the basketball, leading to various comparisons to three-point specialist Ray Allen. Some even call him the best shooter in his entire recruiting class. He is mainly a catch and shoot from behind the arc type player, but still has the ability to work off the dribble and get to the rim if necessary. The 18 year old has a smooth and effortless stroke that is very consistent. He has also shown the ability to a one-dribble pull up as well as utilizing the pump fake to get open. It is unlikely that he will see much playing time this season with Duke being very guard-heavy. Also, with Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton rounding out the point guard position, Jones would likely see a few minutes here and there to back up Sophomore 2 guard Rasheed Sulaimon, along with redshirt senior Andre Dawkins. This may not be Matt Jones’ breakout year, but with his touch, he will most definitely see playing time in the future.
Semi Ojeleye is a 6-6, 220 lb. swingman from Ottawa, Kansas. At Ottawa High School, he dominated his opponents with such ease, that he earned a #10 scout grade for his position via ESPN and was #40 overall. Ojeleye is simply an athletic freak. From watching his high school play, you see him blowing past defenders using his speed and agility, backing down players in the post using his incredible strength, and then showing his range by stepping out and knocking down shots from three point range. If you doubt that he is an athletic freak, one stat will change your view. When working out with the team over the summer, Ojeleye had a vertical leap that almost touched the TOP of the backboard. There is no question about his athleticism, but he faces the same problem as Matt Jones. Duke has even more depth at the small forward position, with redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy, Jabari Parker, redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, and even possibly Amile Jefferson, although he will most likely play the 4 position. Ojeleye will see limited time, as Parker and Hood will get the majority of the minutes with Alex Murphy. It would be hard to fit Semi in this season, so the future years may also be where he excels.
Rounding out the three is without a doubt the most talented, well-rounded player on the team going into the season, 6-8 Chicago, Illinois product Jabari Parker. Parker is an all around great player and athlete. He can do everything on the floor, whether it be scoring on a pull up jumper, behind the three point arc, driving, dishing, rebounding, defending, you name it and he can do it. He is an excellent post and perimeter defender and excels in working off the bounce and cutting to the rack. Ranked #2 overall and #1 for most of the season, Jabari won’t have the same problem that the other two freshmen are facing. There is no doubt that he will play and play most of the minutes in each game. There is no position battle for him, the battle is to see who will be his primary backup. Parker is most definitely going to be penciled in as the starter going into the season, but his attributes are already well known. Parker will see the most time out of all of the freshmen, but all could be contributing factors if need be.