Unable to crack Duke’s talent-laden frontcourt rotation the past two years, Chase Jeter lost confidence in himself as he languished on the bench.
Now he hopes a fresh start at another national power will help him finally tap into the potential he flashed as a McDonald’s All-American in high school.
Jeter announced Tuesday night that he has chosen Arizona over a long list of suitors that included Gonzaga, UCLA, Oregon and San Diego State. The 6-foot-10 big man will have two years of eligibility left after sitting out the 2017-18 season
— Chase Jeter (@chasejeter04) May 17, 2017
One of the crown jewels of a 2015 Duke recruiting class that also included Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard, Jeter was expected to make an immediate impact for a Blue Devils team months removed from its fifth national title. Instead the former five-star recruit from Las Vegas appeared tentative on offense and lost on defense, averaging only 7.9 minutes per game even though Duke desperately needed a third big man after Amile Jefferson suffered a season-ending foot injury.
Jeter performed better in limited playing time as a sophomore, but by then Duke had recruited fellow five-star big men Harry Giles and Marques Bolden to compete with senior Amile Jefferson for playing time in the frontcourt. It also didn’t help that Jeter suffered a disc injury and didn’t play for the Blue Devils the final two months of the season.
With Bolden returning and a new flock of freshmen set to arrive at Duke, Jeter made a predictable but logical choice to transfer in search of more playing time. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of Semi Ojeleye, who barely got off the bench in two years at Duke but blossomed into a standout player and NBA prospect at SMU this past season.
With Deandre Ayton likely NBA-bound after next season and Dusan Ristic and Keanu Pinder both set to graduate, Jeter should have a chance to make that type of impact at Arizona. He projects as the Wildcats’ starting center in the 2018-19 season alongside stretch forward Shareef O’Neal.
Giving Jeter the fresh start he craves is certainly worth the risk for Arizona. He’s only 19 years old. He has NBA-caliber size and athleticism. And he occasionally flashed potential scoring at the rim and attacking the glass at Duke in between stretches of clumsiness and confusion.
If Jeter can add muscle, diversify his offensive game and regain the confidence he lost, he has a real chance to reemerge as the impact player he was once expected to be at Duke.
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