Duke Freshman as The 5 Elements – Fire, Water, Wood, Earth & Metal
The Wu Xing, (五行 wŭ xíng) also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, and the Five Steps/Stages, is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.
Brandon Ingram – Fire – Ascending, Passionate
Ingram to me best embodies the fire element. Brandon is a long lanky forward who presents a matchup problem on both ends of the court. In the last year he has raised his level of play tremendously – what coaches saw as a spark has now turned into a full conflagration. He is fire on the court, a ball of potential energy being released. His ascent up the rankings has been something every scout has talked about, it’s an ascent that he’s earned and continues to earn. Like fanned flames Brandon’s long reach (over 7’0 wingspan) will present a huge problem for opposing offenses. Couple his reach with his athleticism and you have what could be the Duke it factor for next year. Fire is versatile and can burn in any direction, Brandon will be Mr. Versatility for Duke the prototypical positionless Coach K player, able to impact the game in a multitude of ways. He is not in the mold of Justise Winslow but Duke is hoping that like Justise, Brandon will be a player that can play all over – anywhere he is needed. Fire needs oxygen and Brandon will need to put on weight and strength to increase his effectiveness at the college level.
Luke Kennard – Water – Fluid, Resourceful
Water for Luke Kennard was obvious for me, his wet jumper the fluid way in which he drives to the basket are all perfect for his element. Another underrated part of Luke’s game but also matches the water element is how he’s everywhere on the court – Luke, like water, gets into places – between the seams. Kennard has good size and can be an effective rebounder from the guard spot. Kennard’s ability to drive to the basket will keep defenses honest and his jump-shot from anywhere on the court will light up the scoreboards.
Chase Jeter – Wood – Expansive and exterior (in all directions), Organic, Able to absorb, Versatile
When I refer to Chase Jeter as the wood element it is in no way a disparaging remark. The properties of wood are just what this teams needs. Reliability and the versatility to be both malleable and stout depending on the situation. Absorption is also a property of wood, Jeter is smart and coachable and by the time ACC tournament and on into March Duke will need him to be in full bloom and ready. Jeter already does the things that are not teachable, he hustles, he rebounds he gives max effort.
Derryck Thornton – Earth – Stabilizing (representing harmony)
Derryck has huge shoes to fill – the point guard spot in Duke’s offense is the focal point – the seed from which the other companion pieces will flourish. Thornton will be the distributor for this offense but he also brings defensive intensity and quickness to the table for Coach K’s squad. He is not Tyus Jones and his skill-set differs greatly but Thorton will need to be the fertile ground that this offense grows from. Derryck is a player that has the ability to put the ball in the basket but also knows when to give and when to go.
Antonio Vrankovic – Metal – Contracting and Interior – Malleable sometimes, hard others.
Antonio is a big (literally) unknown for Duke. I’m not sure if it’s been decided on whether Antonio will red-shirt or not but either way Duke will need him whether it be on the floor or in practice. Vrankovic will need to be versatile just like the wood element, he will need to alternate between stout and malleable. He will need to be hard in the interior defensively, rebounding, blocking shots and taking up space. He, like Jeter possesses good touch at the basket and if he can do the little things that add up to big results Duke will have gotten a steal in the 6’11 big man.
If Antonio does red-shirt he will take full advantage of Dukes superior facilities and shape and mold his body, chiseling his frame for next year while going against the plethora of big men on the roster each presenting a different set of skills to learn from.