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Five Thoughts On Five Minutes Of Scrimmage Footage

Some players jump off the screen, while others are fading into the background

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Georgia Tech
Duke Blue Devils guard Jaden Schutt (14) shoots against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at McCamish Pavilion.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Duke continues to give fans bits and pieces of intel on this year’s squad, this time via a snippet of a recent scrimmage in practice. The footage is less than five minutes long, so here are five thoughts on this latest peak into this year’s team:

1: Jaden Schutt looks like a new man. Yes, it’s a summer scrimmage, and yes, the footage is heavily edited. But the fact that Schutt factored so strongly into these highlights after fading into the background not only during last season, but in most footage from last offseason, is an encouraging development. Most importantly, Schutt appeared confident attacking the rim both in transition and off the dribble. If he can add even a small element of that to his game, it will make it more difficult for the opposition to treat him as “just a shooter,” which could earn him game action in his sophomore campaign.

2: Sean Stewart’s athleticism pops off the screen. Stewart’s offseason has some parallels to Mark Mitchell’s a year ago. Both were less hyped recruits in their respective cohorts, but made obvious impacts in offseason scrimmages through their athleticism and motors alone. Stewart’s path to immediate playing time may be less obvious than Mitchell’s, given it remains unclear what his best position at the college level is, but I’ve become convinced it’s going to be difficult to keep him off the court this season. In certain matchups (the smaller Miami Hurricanes immediate come to mind), Stewart might even jump veteran Ryan Young as the first big off the bench.

3: Jared McCain and Caleb Foster have some chemistry. The evidence is, once again, positively biased here, but the way that McCain and Foster played off of each other in this footage was quite encouraging. While one of the two may start if Duke plays a primarily three-guard lineup, it’s not out of the question that Jon Scheyer might utilize them as a “line swap” with returnees Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach, giving the veterans a rest jointly in a fashion mirroring how NBA teams have a “second unit.” Whether or not that comes to fruition will depend strongly on how the freshmen adapt to real game action this fall, though.

4: Ryan Young looks more agile than last year. Between his larger than usual academic commitments and helming The Brotherhood podcast, it appears Young has taken full advantage of another summer with the Duke strength and conditioning staff. There are multiple examples in this footage of him attacking the rim off the dribble and making a deft off-balance finish at the rim, and he also appeared more involved in the transition game than at any point last season. This could once again be a function of the edited practice footage, but between this and his evolving three point shot there is reason to believe Duke’s eldest statesman may have taken a step forward this offseason.

5: Once again, TJ Power faded to the background. Power was conspicuously absent from this highlight reel; had he not been seen on defense, I might’ve wondered whether he was kept out of the scrimmage due to an injury. Power has received a lot of hype from college basketball “insiders” as the Blue Devils’ potential fifth starter given how his size and shooting ability complements Duke’s returnees, but that potential hasn’t shone through in public footage yet. Power will inevitably be called on this year as Duke’s only natural “small forward” besides Mark Mitchell, but if these apparent struggles are real the Blue Devils may be forced into more small lineups when Mitchell is off the floor.