Lawson arrived at Duke too late to make significant inroads into the 2021 prep class. She signed one recruit last fall, Lee Volker, a combo guard from a top prep program, Virginia’s St. Paul VI, the same school that sent Jeremy Roach and Trevor Keels to the men’s team.
Over the summer Duke added Shayeann Day-Wilson, a high-scoring 5-6 combo guard from Toronto, who de-committed from Syracuse. With Oliver out for the season, Day-Wilson should compete for minutes at point guard.
Duke also added another walk-on, grad-student guard Emma Schmidt, who played previously at TCU.
The ingredients seem to be there for a pretty talented team. If we count last season’s truncated Duke season, the Blue Devils have seven players who have averaged at least 11 points per game over a single season at a Power-Six school. Not counting the walk-ons, Duke has three graduate students, four seniors and a junior. Lawson can go twin towers with two of Williams, Akinbode-James or Finklea-Guity or go small with Lewis at the 4 or run or press or go deep into the bench.
And the Crazies will be back in force this season and everyone is stoked for that, including Lawson, who’s never coached her team with fans in her home arena.
“I’m probably just as excited as the players to experience it,” Lawson said. “I need to make sure my voice is ready to go. There’s no question that the energy Cameron gives us as the home team is real and I do think it translates to points on the scoreboard.”
Akinbode-James says her team will give those fans something to appreciate.
“We are hoping to get out running, work hard, everyone contribute in their own way with their own skills sets. We’ve been working together since the summer and everyone is excited to get back on the court, so everyone should look forward to this season.”
Duke was picked eighth in the ACC by both the media and the coaches, didn’t get a single vote in the AP poll and no Blue Devil made the preseason All-ACC team. That seems awfully dismissive for a team with Duke’s talent and experience.
Maybe it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind, or maybe the ACC is that good or maybe people are waiting to see if and how Lawson harnesses this talent into a cohesive unit.
And yes, Duke has 10 players who could play 30 minutes per game this season and there aren’t enough minutes for that. Maybe a potential minefield. But anyone who has followed Lawson’s career would bet on her to bring her team through that minefield hale and hearty and a lot better than eighth in the ACC.
“I think everyone is excited to play,” Lawson said. “We obviously have a lot of new faces, excited to compete and there’s a lot of good teams on the schedule, so I think there’s just a lot of anticipation for the year and our games. We’re all looking forward to it.”