During Atlantic Coast Conference media day this week, Duke’s Amile Jefferson talked about his evolution from decorated high school player to team leader for the top-ranked Blue Devils. Jefferson was an American Family Insurance ALL-USA second team selection in 2012 at Friends’ Central in suburban Philadelphia.
Jefferson returns this year as a graduate student after missing the last 27 games with a broken right foot.
“I think it’s about being confident. Really, truly being confident in your skin as a player and understanding your value to the team,” he said. “We have so many different guys, different players, different talents on the team. Everyone has to accept their role. And for us to be really good and for us to reach our true potential, it’s about understanding your role, and understanding the things you can do to make our team better. I think once we get to a point where everyone is buying in and understanding that we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves, then that’s when we’re truly good.”
Asked about Jefferson’s comment, coach Mike Krzyzewski said that confidence in something he wants in recruits.
“It’s something that we hope we recruit, too, that you recruit kids that will be confident in the skin that they have and hopefully their skin will grow, so there will be more talent and that,” he said.
“But I think there are a couple things he means in that. One is that no matter what decisions are made, how much time you’re playing or whatever, to be you. Don’t be a number, don’t get caught up in numbers. The other thing is to be — like for him, he’s our — he and Matt (Jones) are our two main leaders in real time, but Amile has the personality to show it even more. He’s got to be comfortable in his skin so that he can impart the knowledge in real time, not at a time-out but while it’s actually happening to our guys, and he can do that. He can do that.