X's and O's: Capital Prep's Kahlil Dukes

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
11:40
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Scoring is in Capital Prep junior Kahlil Dukes’ DNA. He reached 1,000 career points as a sophomore. He dropped 51 points in a game against Classical Magnet recently. Dukes has always been a scorer. You can go on YouTube and find videos of him from middle school doing exactly what he does today: embarrassing defenses.

There have been questions about Dukes too. Many scouts consider him to be an undersized two guard at 5-foot-11. Some question his upside at the next level as well.

After seeing him go up against West Roxbury, here are some observations I made:

Scoring

Dukes had an effortless 31 points against West Roxbury last Wednesday in the BABC Holiday Classic. He was scoring in every imaginable way, whether it was acrobatic drives to the hoop, pull-up jump shots, or deep three-pointers. Here are some clips of Dukes’ field goals:



The first two clips show Dukes’ great body control. He is that type of player that never is out of control. He’s always on balance and driving to the basket with a purpose. In the third clip, Dukes gains separation from the defender with a nice step-back move to get a pull-up jump shot. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth clip, Dukes demonstrates his superior basketball I.Q. Part of the reason why he is such a good scorer is that he knows defensive tendencies and how to take advantage of them. I made the last clip in slow motion to show just how good Dukes’ shooting form is. He has serious range on his jump shot and shoots a great percentage from everywhere on the floor.

Passes

There is no getting around the fact that Kahlil Dukes is a combo guard. He is by no means a point guard. At the high school level, he can play the point. At the next level he will need to improve his ball-handling and quickness to play any minutes at the point. He has the court vision and passing ability, which is key to his development into a point guard.



In all of these clips, Dukes does an excellent job of feeding the post. As a wing and a point guard, this is critical to a team’s success.

Shot Selection

For the most part, Dukes has good shot selection. As one of the Nutmeg State's finest scorers, it is Dukes’ role to take the most shots on his team. There were a few shots, however, there were questionable decisions.



Look at where Dukes is standing in the first clip. That is a three-pointer well beyond the NBA three-point line. This is a bad shot. Yes, Dukes did hit the back of the rim proving that he can hit that shot, but with 25 seconds left on the shot clock, he could have found a better shot. When he faces tougher defenses, Dukes cannot settle for deep range shots like this. In basketball, every possession counts and it is imperative for players to capitalize on every possession to get the highest percentage shot as possible.

In the second clip, Dukes makes a nice move around his first defender but gets his shot partially blocked because of the second defender. On a fast break, it would have been a better decision to pull the ball out and run a play rather than forcing a difficult shot on two defenders.

Observations

There were some things that stood out about Dukes that could not be seen on video.

-- Dukes has the poise of a Division I player. He never talks to the refs. He never talks back to his coach. He always supports his teammates. Dukes has the intangibles to play at the next level, which is why he has had a solid dose of low Division I offers.

-- Upside seems to be one of the main concerns with Dukes, but if he can develop into a point guard, what is there to worry about? This past summer, Dukes performed well on the national level with the Connecticut Basketball Club alongside superstars like Andre Drummond and Kris Dunn, proving that he can score on more than just the competition he faces in Connecticut.

-- The main concern at this point may be on the defensive end. Dukes has to play a less aggressive role on Capital Prep because they need him to stay out of foul trouble. As a small guard, he will need to work on his build (while maintaining his coordination and quickness) if he wants to play serious minutes at a Division I school.

Conclusion

Every high school team in America could use a guy like Kahlil Dukes. He can flat out score and has an unbelievable feel for the game. Sure, he is doing this type of damage on a team that is not a Top 35 team in Massachusetts, but Dukes does this to nearly every team he faces, regardless of the level.

With his elite scoring ability and underrated potential, Dukes could be a diamond in the rough on the New England basketball scene.

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