Members of the Duke basketball program are feeding optimism for the season.
A full season may or may not lie ahead. Either way, though, the 2020-21 Duke basketball team isn’t just sitting around collecting dust while waiting to find out. Rather, the Blue Devils are working out, all together at last on practice courts with masked-up coaching staff by their side.
At the same time, metaphorically speaking, freshman Jaemyn Brakefield has evidently been using some free time to dust off display cases inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, making room for more of the most precious hardware.
On Friday night, requiring only 12 tweeted characters (including spaces), Brakefield awakened his followers by expressing dissatisfaction with one particular number that the 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward claims has officially overstayed its welcome: “It’s up w 5!”
Presumably, Brakefield is referring to time being up on the program’s count of five national titles, static ever since Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Grayson Allen fueled six straight Big Dance wins as rookies in 2015. Bold or not, the 19-year-old’s me-second mentality should be apparent and comforting to Duke basketball fans. Realize he could’ve instead boasted about what appears to be five or so pounds of added muscle since his senior year at Huntington Prep (W.Va.).
Even more encouraging, Brakefield’s tweet seemed to have been the spark for a Friday night family meeting, of sorts, for folks on social media to see. Henry Coleman quickly retweeted his fellow four-star freshman power forward with a one-word pro-Brotherhood message: “Kinfolk!” Of course, several other Blue Devils, newcomers and returnees alike, interacted with the tweet as well.
Thirty minutes later, associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who cut down April nets as a Blue Devil in 2010 to bring the natty count to four at the time, chimed in with his general excitement about now being in the same gym as the promising group of players. The 32-year-old assistant’s words and still frames then drew some love in the form of a retweet from the fellow Chicago product he recruited to Durham: freshman combo guard and potentially potent college scorer DJ Steward.
Is Jaemyn Brakefield’s vision realistic for Duke basketball this season?
For those who have understandably allowed the dust to settle on their fandom ever since the 2019-20 Blue Devils’ 25-6 campaign came to an early screeching halt due to no fault of their own, one word characterizes head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 41st Duke basketball roster: deep (to the tune of 11 seemingly worthy contributors). As has become commonplace under Coach K, the squad figures to start the season — whenever that may be — among the top 10 in the country.
Senior combo guard Jordan Goldwire, grad transfer big man Patrick Tape, junior wing Joey Baker, sophomore stretch-four Matthew Hurt, and sophomore small forward Wendell Moore will try to blend with Brakefield, Coleman, Steward, plus three other top 60 freshmen: point guard Jeremy Roach, small forward Jalen Johnson, and center Mark Williams.
But even if there is a 2021 NCAA Tournament — higher-ups have been adamant of late that there will be — are the right pieces in place for Duke to finally put the hashtag “#SI6HTS” to rest by turning that sight into reality? Well, it certainly shouldn’t hurt to have guys like Jaemyn Brakefield around, letting folks know there will be no patience when it comes to flatlined trophy counts.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball news and views.