Apparently, neither slights nor extreme expectations faze one future Duke basketball player.
Huntington Prep (W.Va.) four-star power forward Jaemyn Brakefield — a 6-foot-9, 215-pound versatile lefty who committed to the Duke basketball program in October without having taken an official visit to the campus — explained on Thursday in his first SI blog that he is pleased with his senior campaign but still has a statement to make before heading to Durham:
"I ended my season last week. I’m the first four-year player here at Huntington, so that’s special for me. I’m averaging 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists...and I’m proud of how I played this season. I’ve got the Jordan Brand Classic...I didn’t get in the McDonald’s Game, so I’m really gonna be playing with a chip on my shoulder.
"I’m going for that MVP award. I’m just ready to show the world that I’m one of the top players in the country."
Four other members of the six-deep 2020 Duke basketball class, which ranks No. 2 behind Kentucky on the 247Sports Team Rankings, will play alongside Brakefield for the national team at the JBC in Chicago on March 27: Paul VI Catholic (Va.) five-star point guard Jeremy Roach, Whitney Young (Ill.) five-star combo guard D.J. Steward, Nicolet (Wis.) five-star small forward Jalen Johnson, and IMG Academy (Fla.) four-star center Mark Williams.
Roach, Steward, and Williams will be the only Dukies in the McDonald's All-American Game in Houston on April 1 (Johnson was not eligible because he did not play enough games as a senior, a result of leaving IMG for undisclosed reasons in the fall and not transferring back to Nicolet until several weeks later).
As for the sixth freshman on tap for the Blue Devils next season, Trinity Episcopal (Va.) four-star power forward Henry Coleman, he'll join Steward, Johnson, and Williams at the Iverson Classic in Philadelphia on April 24.
With all this showcase-worthy talent on the way for head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the pressure to produce will no doubt be exceedingly high — as is the norm, of course.
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But Brakefield, who now ranks No. 37 overall on the 247Sports 2020 Composite after reaching as high as No. 2 his sophomore year, noted in his blog that he knows what he signed up for and can't wait to play his part (with an expected exodus of Duke basketball big men after this season, he'll likely at least be in the running for a starting gig right away):
"I think people are more critical of the team this year because we’re coming off a season of Zion Williamson...I’m already thinking about next season and all of the expectations that we’re gonna have coming in. I embrace all of that. We want a national title, anything less at Duke is a letdown."
Can't argue with any of that.