Amile Jefferson entered this season as both a proven entity and an unknown factor.
Proven, as in he’s embarked on his fourth full year of playing for Duke. Unknown, as in he spent months recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him for most of the 2016 season.
Well, through three seasons the Philadelphian had done quite well, particularly on the boards, more particularly on the offensive boards. At the time he was sidelined last December he was leading the ACC in offensive rebounds.
No doubt aided by the scoring opportunities his rebounding created – going back up with the ball is easier than awaiting a pass from a teammate -- the lithe 6-9 forward threatened the Duke mark for career field goal accuracy.
This year, having been granted a medical red-shirt, the graduate student picked up right where he left off, as the cliché goes. Through the nonconference portion of the season Jefferson flirted with the league lead in rebounding. Against an athletic but smaller Tennessee State squad on Dec. 19, he had a career-best 18 rebounds, 11 on offense.
Watch Jefferson closely, and more or less once per game he’ll come up with a rebound ripped from a group of hands or yanked fiercely to secure the ball above a scrum that can only be achieved by a mature player.
As 2016 approached its end, Jefferson also had the best field goal percentage among ACC players with at least five made per game. This despite the fact his shooting was, how shall we put it, a bit off against the tough Tennessee State Tigers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 19.
That night Jefferson made but two of seven shots from the floor and was even worse from the line (1 for 8), where he’s never been that good to start with. He did follow with a 2 for 3 shooting effort against Elon, along with 9 for 11 at the line and seven rebounds.
Should Jefferson finish his career with his current field goal efficiency, he would rank fourth in ACC history after UNC big men Brendan Haywood (.637) and Rasheed Wallace (.635), and Boozer, a fellow Dukie.
Best Career Field Goal Percentage at Duke
(Minimum 300 FG Made, Through Games of Dec. 21, 2016)
|.612||Elton Brand||1998, 99||355-580|