VANESSA de Jesus' debut season in the US NCAA may have been short, but she's definitely made her mark as an integral part of Duke University Women's Basketball.
The 19-year-old Filipino-American guard only played four games, but won three of them before the 2020-21 season got cancelled due to COVID. She made the most out of her time on the floor, averaging 12 points, on 6-of-12 shooting beyond the arc, 3.8 boards, and 3.8 dimes as a starter.
Encouraging numbers for a rookie in the league. But Duke head coach Kara Lawson is expecting more from De Jesus as she enters her second year as one of only five returnees, along with nine new additions.
"I want her to just continue progression. Although she's a sophomore on paper, she's still a freshman in terms of game experience. She already has a year under her belt in terms of practice in our system, so she does have experience with that," Lawson, who led Team USA 3x3 in Tokyo 2020, said in a press conference.
The coach continued, "It's a challenge... she'll have to take being able to do it for more than four games, for a full season. Be somebody that can impact the game on both ends, that's what we look for from all of our players, and certainly what we'll look for V this year at the guard position."
Vanessa de Jesus is ready to take on the challenge
From her end, though, De Jesus bared that she's ready to take on a more expanded role, as well as make the work easier for her teammates, especially the new ones.
"I think as a point guard, you have to control the team and make sure everyone is where they're supposed to be. Especially with a new team this year, I feel like the biggest thing for me is just to be supportive of my teammates, just helping them on the court," she said.
Though she's one to make her teammates feel comfortable within the system, she also revealed that she herself wants to take advantage of the learning process.
"I'm just learning more for myself and from them, and coach. So, it's about learning and also helping from experience, it's been really fun for me," she said.
As ever, she's proud to sport her Filipino roots in the Stateside.
"Knowing that I have that support back home and all, it just motivates me more to keep working, do my best, and stay focused. That's what I'm hoping to do. Just go out there and represent you guys and myself too," she shared.
The Blue Devils are set to play their opener on November 4 versus Wingate.
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