Duke Now

Jayson Tatum out with foot sprain, but injuries nothing new for Blue Devils

Duke forward Jayson Tatum, left, sails over guard Grayson Allen, right, to score during the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Oct. 22. Tatum sprained his left foot Tuesday and is expected to be out for two weeks.
Duke forward Jayson Tatum, left, sails over guard Grayson Allen, right, to score during the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Oct. 22. Tatum sprained his left foot Tuesday and is expected to be out for two weeks. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Jayson Tatum is just fine.

The Duke freshman on Tuesday sprained his left foot during a scrimmage in practice.

During the ACC basketball media day in Charlotte Wednesday, coach Mike Krzyzewski said the 6-8 wing will be out about two weeks.

“It’s good and it’s bad. The bad is that he has the sprain,” Krzyzewski said. “It was no one incident. ...Those things just happen; sometimes a guy pulls something.”

In a Duke press release, Krzyzewski added the injury is manageable and won’t affect Tatum long-term.

A minor injury is nothing the Blue Devils aren’t equipped to handle. They’ve had major blows with some of the teams veterans, including captains Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones.

Jefferson, a graduate student and forward, broke his right foot in December, playing just the first nine games of the Blue Devils’ 25-win season.

Jones, a senior guard, sprained his ankle in February. Though he continued to play, he was limited.

“When I got injured, I wasn’t able to play to my full ability,” said Jones, who averaged a career-high 10.4 points as a starter on a Duke team that fell, 82-68, to Oregon in the Sweet 16 last season. He said his and Jefferson’s respective injuries placed a strain on the team.

“For two guys like that to kind of go down, it put guys in an uncomfortable situation they wouldn’t have been in if it weren’t for injuries,” Jones said. “It was different, but at the same time, it showed injuries are inevitable.”

Luckily for Duke, the 2016-17 team features a ton of depth.

“I’m hoping he’ll be fine,” Jefferson said about Tatum, whose fellow rookie Harry Giles will miss some of the season recovering from knee surgery. “I think we have a lot of talent on this team. I think we have eight or nine guys that should consider themselves starters, whether they start or not, to know anytime they can and probably will be in the starting lineup.”

Duke boasts the nation’s second-best recruiting class, signing four five-star players.

Jones was frank about his role on the team.

“I don’t know,” he said. “The only thing I know I have to do is lead the guys vocally.”

Considered one of the ACC’s best defenders, Jones said he’s grateful for a chance to come back healthy this season. During Duke’s Blue-White scrimmage Saturday, Jones guarded junior Grayson Allen and held the ACC’s second leading scorer to eight shots (3-of-8).

Jefferson is regarded as one of Duke’s top offensive rebounders, and the Blue Devils are 25-2 when he leads the team in rebounds.

He said he was patient in his recovery to ensure he was 100 percent healthy.

“I was frustrated missing those games last year,” Jefferson said. “I felt like we needed things like rebounding, like defense, like things I knew that I could do. I’m 100 percent healthy. My body’s been great for months now.”

Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan

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