How does it feel to be committed to Duke University?
Javin DeLaurier: It feels great, just very relieving and it takes a lot of stress off my mind. I know I’m going to a great place.
Was this an outcome you expected with your recruiting process when it began?
I dreamed about it but you never really know until it actually happens. I remember starting to watch them the year after I went to their basketball camp when I was 13. I came back and I had a great time and I told myself that it was really good and just with the fact that you either really love Duke or you hate them. I just loved them and it really appealed to me.
How did you come to attend their camp at that early age?
Honestly, I didn’t really have much to do with it. It was a Christmas gift from my Mom that turned out to be an amazing opportunity. It was a surprise for me, I had always liked basketball but it was sort of a stocking stuffer with a little note from her saying that I would be able to go to Duke Basketball Camp that June, so I was really excited about it, it was great.
What do you remember about that camp?
I remember having a good time and playing a lot of games and just enjoying the facilities. I remember it was one of the Plumlee brothers who spoke to us and Ryan Kelly and Coach K spoke to us for a little while too. I remember sitting in Cameron and being mesmerized by everything that was going on. I remember Ryan talking about how he had always wanted to go to Duke and how he had gone to camp as well and how everything had worked out. It’s kinda funny looking back on it that he said that.
What was it like for your family once your recruiting process started and Duke started becoming more of a realistic option in your recruiting process?
They were excited for me, especially with this next step I’m going to take in my life.
A few weeks ago you shared that Duke had asked you to move your official visit up but at that point you hadn’t confirmed, what do you remember about the week leading up to the visit and the family discussions in actually deciding to take the earlier official visit?
It was really we had enjoyed the in-home visit so much and we thought “why not, let’s get down to campus as soon as possible”. And, so we did.
What was it about the Duke in-home visit that you enjoyed so much?
Getting to sit down face to face with Coach K for an extended period of time and to listen to him talk and get to know him better. It was a great visit, a great visit.
Was that the first time that you and your family had had an in-depth conversation with Coach K?
I had talked to him over the phone for long periods of time, but that was the first time he had been able to sit down, shake hands and talk face-to-face with us. There’s nothing quite like that kind of interaction.
What was the DeLarurier Camp’s general feeling before the visit?
My mom, she was freaking out a little bit haha. Everyone else, we were just excited to hear what he was going to say. It was great.
What kind of things did Coach K and his staff emphasize to you guys during the in-home visit?
A lot of different things. They answered a lot of questions that we had about Duke in terms of who else they were recruiting, what the plan would be for me personally there, that sort of thing. He answered all those questions honestly, which is what I loved about him. My mom would say that she remembers that Coach said to me, “ you know son, tonight you earned about $250,000” because that would be around what four years of tuition and going to Duke would run if I went there. So she was really excited about that when she heard that.
I think my favorite quote from that night would be, “If you don’t fall off the path, what can go wrong if you go to Duke? If basketball doesn’t work out, you still will have a great opportunity to be successful in your life.”
That really meant a lot to me. For a couple of seconds when they first said that, I was speechless because I didn’t even know how to respond, but it was, it was a great almost realization for me that it was wow, that’s a great point. As long as I work hard and don’t do anything dumb, my life will be pretty nice.
From before the visit to after, how did your feelings change?
I don’t know if there was really a change, but it was sort of, more clarity to the situation. It’s been a fairly long process with Duke, it had started back in January during the high school season. There was always sort of questions about the situation and that night during the in-home, that really cleared it up for me.
Let’s look at the communication process with Duke from January through the in-home, what do you remember?
Most of my contact up until July, all my contact up until July was with Coach James. He was the lead guy for the majority of my recruitment. Then in July I started talking to Coach K more and more. When we got to around August, we had a really long conversation over the phone about the continuation of the process and our relationship. That’s how the process went with Duke and my family and I. During that long conversation in July, I talked for a little while with Coach K, but it was primarily my mom and Coach K talking. She knows better than I about that conversation. My mom, as the process went on, she really put a lot of it on me. She definitely was a great sounding board because she played and she had gone through a similar situation in terms of Division 1 basketball. She was great.
As she put more on you in the recruiting process—what kind of things were you thinking about as you tried to figure out how you felt about Duke and the other programs you were seriously considering?
With the recruiting situation, it would be would I be happy there if I had to stay all four years, on and off the court. That went into my decision making process with every school was thinking about it in that way.
So Duke was a school you liked growing up, but there’s obviously a difference between liking a school growing up versus liking them as a realistic option to go play there….what turned the trick for you?
There’s a lot to like. It’s ACC Country, it’s close to home, I get better there, it’s a great academic situation for me there and I get to compete every day against great competition in practice, games are amazing and that Duke brand—you can’t get that kind of exposure at a lot of other places.
Let’s fast forward to the Duke official visit. Where do you think you were in terms of a decision the week of the visit leading up to it?
In the week leading up to the visit, I was excited, I was excited for all my opportunities to go out and get better feels for places. A lot of stuff was coming my way that week that people thought I was going to commit that weekend, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I wasn’t going in thinking that I’m definitely going to commit or anything like that. Once I got on campus, I fell in love with it, it’s an amazing feeling knowing where you want to go to school.
So what was it that made you want to pull the trigger?
The exact moment I knew was clear. We got in Friday night and the staff took us to dinner and then afterwords they took us to Cameron at night. It was completely empty, the lights were dimmed and we sat there in the seats and I just looked around and I felt a great rush of feelings and emotions and I was like, I want to come here. This is where I want to be.
I told the staff the next night, Saturday night at dinner. It was kinda funny, Coach was talking about the environment at Duke, the facilities, the great academic things there and that’s why a lot of people want to come to Duke. Then I spoke up and I told Coach, “I’m sorry to interrupt Coach but you are right, a lot of people do want to come to Duke and I really want to come to Duke, I want to play for you Coach.” He got up and he hugged me right there and my mom started crying, it was a great moment. She was so happy for me. Coach K was very excited, it was great
Did your mom know that was going to happen with the way and when you committed?
I had let my parents know earlier that day actually. After playing pickup with the team, we were hanging out and they are a great group of guys. I texted my parents and I told them I’m coming and they said, “Oh, when are you coming back to the hotel?” I told them “No, Mom, I’m coming here, I’m coming to Duke.” When I got back she hugged me and asked me if I was sure and whatnot and I told her that I was sure. She was happy for me and they think it’s a really great fit for me.
During the visit—was there anything you learned about Duke or the staff or players that was surprising to you?
I guess you never really know or really comprehend the success that Coach has had and then you walk into his house or his office and you see all the rings upon rings, USA medals and you realize what an amazing career he’s had as one of, if not the greatest coach of all time. Just to have the opportunity to play for him is amazing.
How did the pickup games go with the current team?
Most of my time was spent guarding Amile. It great, a lot of fun. We played for about an hour and a half or two hours, I had a great time and got a good workout in. I loved how competitive it was. Just to have that every day, it was awesome. I got along with everybody on that team, they are all good friends on that team. My hosts were Amile and Grayson, but they all hung out together, so I was with everybody most of the time, it was great. Playing with Derryck Thornton, he was in my class a couple years ago and I remember seeing him at Top 100 Camp, he’s just so quick and crafty with the ball. It was a lot of fun playing with him. Marshall, Marshall is just so incredibly strong and Matt Jones, he’s such a leader. He’s real vocal, great guy to play with on your team. I loved to play with those guys.
What kind of feedback did the players give to you?
I asked them all how they felt about their playing experience at Duke and it was a unanimous we love it. That was the case at a lot of the places I visited, but they really meant it. Every single guy on the team just buys in and loves being there which was amazing.
How much did you talk with the coaches during the official visit about their vision for you as a player at Duke, how they would use you and develop you?
Yeah we talked a lot in terms of what they saw my role or path of development would be. Coach basically said, he asked me at dinner what position I was and I told him that I was forward and he said, “No you are not, you are a basketball player.” Especially defensively, he wants to use me as a versatile defender to guard multiple positions and offensively, until my skill level develops more, as it develops more and more-I would be incorporated more and more into the offensive game plan. I felt great about that, he gave me honest feedback on stuff I can improve on, things of that nature. He told me obviously I need to get stronger and develop my perimeter skills. Then he said that there’s a lot of guys who are 6’8, 6’9, so there are things that you can do that can separate you from those guys, you have a great motor, so if we can get your skill level to catch up with that—you can be really dangerous.
Were there any player comparisons they made to you of former players they’ve had they feel are similar to you?
They didn’t really give me any comparisons in terms of players. We talked about, Coach his metaphor was that everybody runs a different race. Ultimately my goal is to play at the highest level but I also know that I am not a one and done type player, and Coach was honest with me about that and I agree with him. After one, two, three, he said that’s up to you and I really loved that approach and it was great.
How were you feeling after leaving the visit?
I was ecstatic, it’s a great feeling when you truly know where you want to go and what your plan is when your mind is made up. It’s just like a calm relief.
Last time we talked you mentioned that you were talking a lot with various recruits or commits of Duke including Frank Jackson—is that still continuing after your visit and commitment?
Oh yeah, I talked to Frank, I was on my visit and I told him I was going to commit. He got really excited. I talked to Marques Bolden and I talked to Wenyen Gabriel, I saw that he committed to Kentucky, which is unfortunate but I’m happy for him. He’s a great kid with a really great future ahead of him. I’ve definitely been talking to a lot of the guys and I talked to Jayson Tatum afterwords, we texted back and forth a little bit. Marques said he enjoyed his visit and he’s gotta do what’s best for him. I hope it’s Duke and other people do too. He’s a great guy, a guy I’d love to play with, hopefully we can make him a Blue Devil. I just told him to make the decision that he felt was right for him.
As you look to your final high school season—how are you preparing to both enjoy your final high school season and prepare for your first year of Duke?
I’m going to try and just keep expanding my game and work on everything. The coaches are going to come see me a few times during the season and they are going to get me a workout plan on things they want me to work on during the season and to prepare for when I come in for the summer sessions.