As late as his sophomore season, Javin DeLaurier essentially held no interest from college basketball programs. Albeit blessed with good size and mobility, he simply hadn’t demonstrated the knack for the game to attract coaches.
He began to change that during the 2014 summer. The Shaka Smart-led VCU Rams offered and home-state Virginia became involved along with Indiana.
But it wasn’t until this past spring that DeLaurier truly blew up. His play on the travel circuit for Team Loaded VA prompted quick offers from Cincinnati, Texas, Clemson, Xavier, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, among others.
By June, he had vaulted from No. 100 in the 2016 class all the way into the national top 40. No one questioned his rise, either: DeLaurier’s talent and potential by that point had become obvious.
He further cemented his reputation in July, raising his level of play to even greater heights on the Adidas circuit. That’s when even more suitors jumped into the race, including Arizona, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Texas and Stanford. And Duke followed closely behind in the early fall, offering and making an intense push to close.
The Devils’ strategy worked, and now they have a versatile, likely multi-year player to give them blue-chip talent and at least some continuity while they continue to sign one-and-done prospects as well.
DeLaurier is a highly versatile performer, but two specific areas stand out as his defining attributes: athleticism and workrate. He leaps explosively and is very quick off the floor, enabling him to throw down dunks and block shots at a prolific clip. Though not as acrobatic mid-air as former Blue Devils in the 6-8 size range such as Grant Hill, DeLaurier certainly does possess tremendous functional athleticism.
Meanwhile, his energy level is off the charts. The word “motor” has become so ubiquitous in scouting coverage that it has lost its meaning, but if one were to make an exception and compliment a player for a high-revving engine, DeLaurier would be that guy. Whatever the circumstances — high school, AAU, camp, tight game or blowout — you can count on him exerting himself to the fullest.
He also boasts impressive skills. DeLaurier is a good perimeter jump shooter who needs time to set his feet but does wield a soft touch. He’s quicker with his release when closer to the rim and doesn’t need to be on balance, knocking down contested turnarounds along the baseline on a regular basis.
He’s a frequent, pestering offensive rebounder as well who gets some easy ones and draws fouls on opponents. Defensively, he moves his feet well on the perimeter, blocks numerous shots and should be effective in Duke’s system applying pressure.
His stats were not overwhelming for Loaded VA, but looks are deceiving. That squad was very talented and balanced, and thus his 13-point, eight-rebound average impressed more than the raw numbers might have indicated — and obviously the numbers themselves do not merit any type of apology, particularly on the glass.
DeLaurier also is a highly intelligent and team-oriented competitor who should face no difficulties whatsoever being surrounded by elite teammates. He adapts quickly to his surroundings and always pushes himself to maximum production.
DeLaurier shows flashes of face-up skills, as mentioned, but he must improve his left hand and speed up his release from the perimeter. That’s going to be more of a long-term issue than something he’ll need to concern himself with in college, but it’s worth noting.
He also curiously shot under 50 percent for Team Loaded, surprising given his athleticism and skills. He’ll need to improve his lower body strength, because at times defenders can “shred” him too easily off the block and without fouling. Becoming a more substantial interior presence — without sacrificing explosiveness or flexibility — will be key.
DeLaurier’s freshman season outlook at Duke depends largely on the Devils’ remaining recruiting success for the senior class. If Coach K and staff are able to reel in No. 1 prospect Harry Giles — also a power forward — realistically that’s going to curtail DeLaurier’s immediate playing time.
Even if that’s true, however, the 2017-18 team almost definitely will not feature Giles and likely will not include Brandon Ingram (freshman combo forward), either. That means DeLaurier could start or at least play a great deal beginning that season and extending through the remainder of his collegiate career.
It’s certainly difficult to project stats or status for DeLaurier, given Duke’s recruiting preeminence. But suffice it to say that even a loaded Blue Devils squad will require talent and experience, and DeLaurier’s ultimate value to the program could mirror or exceed that of Amile Jefferson or Lance Thomas — vital cogs in national championship machinery.
Down the road, the expectation here is that he’ll advance to a successful professional career with a realistic shot at the NBA, if he can refine his handling and shooting sufficiently to play on the perimeter at that level. And his pro floor likely will be high international play, so with good health he definitely should enjoy a long and lucrative career in the game.