Checking In With Andre Buckner

Andre Buckner never saw much action on the court, but the 5'10 point guard from Hopkinsville, KY certainly had a colorful career in Durham including a famous, or infamous, altercation with rival head coach Matt Doherty in the Dean Dome. Buckner caught up with TDD recently to provide an update on life after basketball at Duke.

Life has been very challenging for me since graduation. I've explored many things and learned so much more about myself. Since I left there have been two tragic losses: my Grandmother to cancer last year, and my college sweetheart dumped me in late November, haha.

Actually, the toughest part about leaving college is staying in touch and maintaining close relationships. You have to work very hard at your networking skills and relationships in order to keep a clean flow, and I really suck at it. I've been exploring many things music, real estate, some non-profit stuff, coaching, management, etc.

Fortunately, I have been able to travel a lot, meet people, see things, and learn things. You'd be amazed by all the Duke people you run into by just being somewhere other than Hopkinsville, KY! For example, next week I am supposed to hook up with Duke Alum and also National Champion, Marty Clark. We just happen to run into each other at a Denver Nuggets pickup game. I am going to help him out with some of the things he does for children in the Denver area. I also ran into Roshawn McLeod while in Atlanta, and we are going to hook up with some things on the music side. Chris Duhon is in town this week. We had Boozer last week, although I didn't get to talk with him. Just seeing him again in person brought back so many memories and I am certainly proud of him.

So, I feel like I have made the right decision to leave my hometown and explore the rest of the world. Denver is the start.

So, Denver is the start. What's it like out there?

Things couldn't be better. I have an apartment right downtown. I love the city, I love the people, the nightlife is wonderful, and the weather is lovely. Denver is special to me, of course, because the position my brother is in. Also it's good to see Duke Alum Chip Engelland doing his thing on the sideline.

How's the music career going?

Well, the company is no longer GMA, it's Buck Recordings and Promotions. I have shifted my general role as far as my label goes. I have stopped working on "The Drizzle" and focused more on producing other artists. I have also downsized my repertoire. I am now only working with three acts.

Dominic Butler is a classic R&B guy; his album is smashing. We released his CD on Oct. 21st, and currently his sales are approaching 600 at $10/CD, which is very good for a local release. We want to sell close to 3,000 by next October. We hope that sales will increase once we launch the website, which is due in December. Also, hopefully we can get some Duke students and fans of mine to support it. I know I don't have many, but just a couple of you would help a lot. I also have two rap groups, RRC and New Era. Both with smashing CD's to be released in Dec. and April respectively. If you are interested, don't hesitate to email this site and they'll forward your request.

So now you're out of school and in the real world. What's that change been like?

The most difficult part for me is that I feel like I failed in my relationships. I really didn't do a good job of keeping in touch with really, really good friends from school. I got so caught up in my personal business and swamped into my city that I let days and months go by without contacting people.

Don't make that mistake. Stay connected and in the network. As soon as you unplug yourself, you find life very meaningless and confusing. The people that truly care about you are the people that you are next to right now in school. Billy from middle school, who is still staying with his mother, could care less about your progress. Take it from me.

What do you miss most about Duke?

I miss the environment. I miss the family. I miss the togetherness. I miss my "relationships". I miss the fact that even though I was the last guy on the bench, I still had people that admired me for what I provided to the team. And I'm not just talking about fans. I had teammates, coaches, and a staff that really admired my presence. It's scary that I may not ever have that again, because I really didn't understand and appreciate it while I was in college. Sometimes I wish I could have it back.

Have you had a chance to get back to Durham since you graduated?

Yes I have been back a couple of times. I saw the Carolina game last year. I was also there this past Halloween. I plan to check out two or three games this year.

How did it feel to attend games last year and sit in the crowd behind the bench as opposed to being with the team?

Although it did feel weird, It didn't feel as bad as I thought it would. You have to understand, I was virtually a spectator anyway.

Have you given any thought to coaching at the high school, college or NBA level?

I have certainly given plenty of thought to coaching because it's something that I know I can do very well. I know a lot more about the game than most people would think. The staff that I played college basketball for is truly something that can never be duplicated.

In my eyes, Duke has the best coaching staff ever. The four elements blend perfectly. Then you throw in a guy like Mike Schrage, who will go to hell and back to make sure the ship is running smoothly. Those guys taught me so much. I love them! I even learned things that I didn't even realize I was learning until after I left. That's how fine-tuned those guys are.

Even before Duke, I had a pretty good basketball IQ, I just didn't have the skills and lungs to match. My high school coach Jeff Jackson did a very good job teaching the basics of basketball, also watching my brother and the many coaches he's played for and against. I love the game, and I know one day I will be back around it. I just don't want to commit to such a professional job at this time and age. I'm trying to enjoy life right now. Coaching is an all day job. It is not only a position it's a lifestyle. Right now, I don't think I'm ready to change my lifestyle. I'm too young, and I like to go out.

How closely do you follow the team when you can not attend games when you are in Kentucky and Denver?

I followed them throughout last year. I am still aching from last year's loss to Connecticut. I feel like we got cheated big time. And I know if I still ache, those guys are in agony. I am sure they will bounce back and have a terrific year. The critics are full of s***, I can't believe we aren't in the top ten. Maybe I'm spoiled, but to me, it sounds insane to have a top ten not have Duke in it. We made college basketball in this era.

Is your brother happy in Denver?

My brother is very happy in Denver. He loves this place. Basketball isn't going like we planned, but he is still extremely happy. Hopefully, they will turn it around by midseason.

You earned the reputation of a practical jokester around the program while in Durham. Are you still up to that kind of thing?

Yes I am still highly capable, but I haven't done anything since the "gorilla killa" or "Roy D. Mercer". I think I kind of learned my lesson. The coaching staff at Duke let me know plain and clear that the practical joking had to stop. I thought I was on MTV or something. It's funny because a lot of the things I used to do are on MTV right now. For example, "boiling points". We used to do that stuff all the time. It's hilarious! I love it!

Are you still in touch with any of your teammates or coaches from Duke?

Well, I stay in touch with Love, Duhon, Ewing, Dockery and those guys. Unfortunately, I haven't talked to anyone from my class or before my class. Somewhere between everyone going their separate ways, numbers got lost and memories got short. I do miss those guys. I don't bother trying to contact the coaching staff unless I really need them because I know how busy they are. They get thousands of phone calls every day. I try not to clutter.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Well, I love to write. I love to do creative things. For example, right now I am working on a movie script. I don't know what I will do with it when I'm done, but it's just fun to me. I love to do creative things whether it's for business or pleasure. Creativity is my outlet to the stress and pressures of society.

Finally, what exactly happened between you and Coach Doherty over at UNC your senior year?

Well, I was defending my turf. I didn't know if Collins could handle Doherty by himself so I decided to step in. Ha-ha. The aftermath is that I am either loved or hated in the state of North Carolina. I have no middle ground now. If you are a Duke fan, you love me. If you are a Carolina fan, you hate me.

The Devils Den Top Stories