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The Ole Miss Hoops Handbook: Jaemyn Brakefield

The Ole Miss Hoops Handbook: Jaemyn Brakefield

OXFORD, Miss. — Welcome back to the second release of the Ole Miss Hoops Handbook. In the first edition, we highlighted a player in Matthew Murrell who proves to be a legitimate two way threat this upcoming season. If you’re interested in re-reading or didn’t see it, you can click here.  Today, we will keep the focus on another returning piece from last year’s team in Jaemyn Brakefield.

Editors Note:  “The Ole Miss Hoops Handbook” series has been created to help the Ole Miss community get familiar with these players and to help build excitement for the upcoming season. Every day, The Rebel Walk will highlight an individual player to break down his game and describe what you can look forward to and where we can look for more growth this season.

Each player’s breakdown consists of my notes from both the summer scouting and some re-watch of film this fall. On top of game film, I formed an analysis alongside a statistical breakdown from several different sources. I have watched multiple games for each player to help give an accurate picture of their game. In an effort to give a better view, I tried to watch one game where a player had larger success statistically and one where his impact may have been overlooked by the box score.

With that being said, let’s take a look at our second focus player: Jaemyn Brakefield.

Last Year and The Offseason

After spending his first collegiate season at Duke, the Mississippi native transferred back home to come and play under Kermit Davis. During his tenure with the Blue Devils under Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Brakefield played in a rotational role. In his two years at Ole Miss, Brakefield has been a consistent starter and this past season he made 31 starts in 33 appearances.

Last season was the most productive one of Brakefield’s career. He averaged 11.1 PTS, 5.7 REB, and 1.7 ASTs per game with a shooting slash of .537/.351/.734. Some of his notable performances came in contests at Georgia and at home against LSU.

@ UGA (2/7): 24 PTS | 7 REB | 4 AST | 11-15 FG | 2-4 3PT

vs LSU (2/25): 23 PTS | 10 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 8-10 FG | 7-7 FT

Not only was this the best statistical season in terms of volume for Brakefield, but it was also the best in terms of efficiency. His 64.1 TS% (*True Shooting %) had him T-67th in all of college basketball last season and was 3rd in the SEC. His offensive rating was the fifth best in the SEC at 120.5.

*”True shooting percentage, aka TS%, is a metric that factors a player’s or a team’s performance at the free-throw line and considers the efficiency of all types of shots. This… helps us compare players with varying responsibilities and shooting abilities on the floor.” – NBA Stuffer

After Kermit Davis and Ole Miss parted ways last year, Brakefield entered the transfer portal before being recruited back by new head coach Chris Beard.

One thing that I think we need to highlight is how well Jaemyn Brakefield represents Ole Miss. Routinely, you will notice that he has a relationship with other Rebel sports teams, gathering his teammates to attend volleyball games and other sporting events. Notice the relationship he has formed with Coach Yo, who also supports the entirety of the Ole Miss athletics community.

The Breakdown

Listed at 6’8″ tall and weighing 220 lbs., Brakefield is a potential matchup nightmare because of his blend of size, skill, and VERSATILITY. The last word there is in bold and all caps on purpose, to really show how important this trait is for him. Coach Beard has stated his desire to bring versatile players in this program.

The best way to describe Jaemyn is an offensive Swiss army knife at the forward position who can play and affect the game in so many ways as a mismatch. Brakefield had one of the best seasons in the SEC last year within a limited volume. The IQ he shows in his game and his ability to find different ways to score and make impact plays are noticeable. It felt like at times Brakefield really settled into a Point Forward style role. And while not the ideal role, it was one he took on admirably. Noticeably, you could see him directing traffic, waving people to spots, or sending them to space.

Part of the reason media doesn’t talk about Brakefield enough is they didn’t get to see the volume needed to do so. The efficiency numbers are significant, but so many times last year I said Ole Miss had to get him 10+ shots and it just didn’t happen. There were only six games where Brakefield had that many opportunities — and in those six, his scoring averages rises up to 16.8 PPG. In that small sample size, his efficiency didn’t waiver either as he shot 60.5% from the field.

He can score inside/outside, work the post, run in transition, start the break, and pick and pop. Here’s a list of the offensive play types per Synergy Sports Technologies where Brakefield recorded over 20 possessions (and shots) last year.

Spot Up: 99 | Transition: 79 | Off-Cut 41 |Offensive Rebounds: 25 |Post-Ups: 25 | P&R Roll Man: 20 | Misc. Plays: 26 (normally off turnovers)

It’s not just that he played the game with versatility, but how effective he was at every single level. You want him in the post and cleaning up the glass, as he was ranked in the 98th percentile in offensive putbacks, shooting 70.9% at the rim. On the second level, Brakefield shot 50% in the range of 17ft – the three-point line. Leave him unguarded on a pick-n-pop or he steps out. He shot 50% on all unguarded catch-and-shoot threes.

Even if last year’s shooting numbers were on the higher end and he ends up somewhere between his sophomore and junior year, he’s a very valuable player to have on the court.

It will be interesting to see how Coach Beard uses Brakefield, and if we see him potentially as a small ball five at times. (Note that the waiver status of Moussa Cisse is still up in the air at the time of writing.)

On the defensive end, Brakefield offers some of that versatility as well. When he had to step out and guard on the perimeter, he did a solid job of keeping up and defending. In general when switched onto a perimeter ball handler, he held them to 25%, although there were some times where his lateral quickness just wasn’t quite there to keep up.

If you keep reading this series you’ll see this trend, but Ole Miss has one of the best strength coaches in college basketball in John Reilly. I am really intrigued to see physically how Brakefield has transformed coming into this season. He does have room to improve on the defensive end though. In the post he could do a better job of defending against bigger opponents where at times he did get worn down by some of the bigger traditional centers of the SEC. Being able to recover and guard the roll man has been an issue as well, so that is one area to monitor out of the gate. He is not the most vertical threat on the court, but he has more of a smooth athleticism to him.

Going a little bit deeper into the intricacies of his overall game on film last year, let’s start with his energy level. Brakefield brings a noticeable energy level on the court and the focus to do a lot of the little things. One of the favorite film plays I saw was against Missouri when Brakefield chases down a fastbreak against the Tigers, running down Kobe Brown and forcing a turnover, stealing a possession back for his team.

He is active on the glass primarily on the defensive end. Brakefield is capable of creating his own break taking the ball up the court, running the lanes, trailing a fast break, getting out and being able to shoot from the wings in transition. The Swiss army knife reference, again, but a valuable forward for the transition game.

Offensively, he has a good post game with increasingly better footwork each year. He was at his best when he could get position on the left block and go over his left shoulder for a shot. He added a couple of counter moves last year that popped on film. On the perimeter, he is a good catch-and-shoot threat, where he excels at getting his feet set on the arrival of the pass. He doesn’t always take the shot but looks to utilize jab steps and shot fakes on closeouts. He is a smart IQ player who has a knack/awareness to catch defenders overplaying and slip to the basket.

Brakefield loves to go right on the attack and really enjoyed using that stepback move when attacking to the right. I would love to see him attack to the left more as he drew more fouls and had a slight increase in shooting percentage. It also provides the opportunity for him to shield with his body more. It will be interesting to see how his passing game evolves. At times, Brakefield hesitated on entry passes into the post and that is an area to watch this year.

Coach Beard on Brakefield
Earlier in an exclusive interview with Coach Beard, I asked him to describe each player in a few short words. Here’s what he said regarding Jaemyn Brakefield: “Much more than a shooter. Really good basketball player.”

I would love to call Jaemyn a ‘breakout candidate’ for the year, but the reality is he’s already a highly-skilled offensive forward who excelled greatly in his role. We can expect if that role expands, to see similar results.

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is the Vice President of Operations and the Director of Community Relations for The Rebel Walk. He is also the Director of Basketball Content and Senior Basketball Writer. He has over five years of experience providing in-depth analysis of college basketball through multiple platforms. A former MBA graduate of Ole Miss, TJ started with The Rebel Walk in 2019.

About The Author

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is the Vice President of Operations and the Director of Community Relations for The Rebel Walk. He is also the Director of Basketball Content and Senior Basketball Writer. He has over five years of experience providing in-depth analysis of college basketball through multiple platforms. A former MBA graduate of Ole Miss, TJ started with The Rebel Walk in 2019.

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