After a year and a half of not playing a regular season game, 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward Jaedon LeDee finally made his SDSU debut.
The Aztecs defeated the Titans 80-57 on Monday night to win their 10th straight home opener. It was SDSU’s 23rd win all-time versus Cal State Fullerton, which included an up-and-down all-around performance from LeDee.
Below is a breakdown of his offensive and defensive game against the Titans and a look ahead to the Aztecs’ next match-up against the non-conference rival BYU.
LeDee’s offensive performance
When Keshad Johnson took a bad fall and landed hard on his right shoulder early in the first half, he was led off the court, and LeDee substituted 43 seconds into the contest. Coming off the bench to replace an injured teammate was not the ideal start to his Aztecs career.
After coming in for Johnson, LeDee played 3:26 minutes and assisted on Darrion Trammell’s mid-range shot. Johnson returned to the floor, shaking off the shoulder pain, and the 6’9 forward was substituted out.
In pregame practice, LeDee took numerous attempts from the free-throw line to prepare himself because he frequently draws fouls. UCLA fouled him eight times in their closed-door scrimmage, and he also went six-for-nine from the charity stripe. He drew a game-high four fouls against San Diego Christian and was three-of-four from the line. Making free throws will be important for the senior from Houston, Texas.
In the first half against the Titans, he drew two fouls but only hit two-for-four from the free-throw line. They were his only points in the first half. He played for 9:30 minutes.
Nerves appeared present in the first half for LeDee. He missed two lay-ups, one mid-range shot, and one three-point attempt for a total of four missed field goals.
“I think the first half he was in a hurry to do a lot of things,” head coach Brian Dutcher said postgame. “He couldn’t get a shot to go in, and he fumbled the ball a couple of times when he had lay-ups.”
Coming out of halftime, with the Aztecs leading 32-25, LeDee brought more confidence. He came into the game following one of SDSU’s best stretches of the game, a 15-3 run that ballooned their lead to 47-30.
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LeDee fed off the scoring burst and added to it by hitting his first field goal. The Houston native put in a lay-up which he was fouled on. He secured the three-point play with a made free throw.
His next points came in the paint again. He bullied his way to the basket for another lay-up, which brought his total to seven points against the Titans. After CSUF guard Max Jones drew a charge on LeDee, he was substituted out.
During the 6’9 forward’s final minutes on the court, he scored another and-one lay-up but missed the free throw attempt. Then, he had a breakaway slam dunk after a Titan player turned the ball over to Micah Parrish, who got the assist on the scoring play.
LeDee totaled 17:44 minutes, had 11 points, went four-for-nine from the field, three-for-six from the charity stripes, and one missed attempt beyond the arc. The Aztecs defeated the Titans 80-57 after running away with a 58-point burst in the second half.
“You just see what kind of physical presence he is around the basket, he’s impossible to deal with,” Dutcher said praising LeDee’s second-half performance.
Thirty-five of the Aztecs’ 80 points were scored, and 10 of the Scarlet and Blacks’ 18 assists occurred while LeDee was on the floor.
The difference offensively for LeDee in this game compared to the exhibition game was his performance beyond the arc. He went two-for-three from the three-point line against the Hawks. As he gets more comfortable and continues to work on his perimeter game, the shots will fall.
LeDee’s defensive performance
The 6’9 forward’s ability to block shots was not shown against the Titans.
He struggled to cover 6’8 forward Vincent Lee, who totaled 11 points in the contest. Lee caught LeDee off guard on a few occasions and was able to get around him in the paint. Lee scored seven points when LeDee was on the floor, and the TCU transfer fouled him twice.
In a more positive light, he was able to box out other opponents like 6’7 forward Ibrahim Doumbia as the Titans had several missed shots that turned into rebound opportunities for LeDee.
LeDee ended up with three defensive rebounds and one steal against CSUF. Trammell, who led the team with 18 points, gave credit to LeDee and the other frontcourt players for their defensive performance. Nathan Mensah ended the night with five defensive rebounds, one steal, and one block in 22:34 minutes played, while Aguek Arop had a defensive rebound and steal in 9:40 minutes played.
“They work, duck in, run the floor, and protect the paint,” Trammell said postgame. “I think as guards, I feel like we should reward them a bit more for their hard work. I think they’re doing a great job.”
For LeDee to improve defensively as the season continues, he needs to stay in front of the guys he covers, so they don’t get around him for easy opportunities to score. Being visibly aware in the opponent’s paint will be key to the 6’9 forward’s defensive success in the games to follow.
SDSU’s next match-up, BYU
On Friday, Nov. 11, the Aztecs take on Brigham Young University at Viejas Arena. They are 25-50 overall and 17-19 at home against the Cougars.
BYU does not have any player under 6’1, and the Scarlet and Black will go up against three players over 6’8. LeDee will see 6’10 forward Atiki Ally Atiki, who is a huge returning defender with 24 blocks last season, along with 6’11 forward Noah Waterman in his first season with BYU.
The wait is over for the Houston native, but it will only get tougher from here.
Adam is a senior at San Diego State University studying journalism & media studies. He is a huge sports fanatic who was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. His favorite sports teams are the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Padres, Toronto Raptors, and San Diego Wave FC. He also writes and reports for The Daily Aztec. When he graduates, he wants to become a sports writer or reporter for a news organization or TV station.