When the official announcement came in the preseason that Rodney Hood and Tyler Thornton were Duke’s team captains, Josh Hairston was disappointed. But he didn’t let the lack of a title stop him from being a senior leader.
Wednesday, that title came.
Hairston, a reserve forward, was named Duke’s third captain for this season. The team was told in a meeting Tuesday night. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski became emotional, getting a little teary eyed, when making the announcement.
“Coach was talking about the leadership that Rodney and Tyler had displayed thus far, and they’ve done a great job leading our group,” Hairston said. “He threw me in there as a third guy who wasn’t named a captain but was still doing a great job leading and was still acting like a captain. It caught me off guard when he said that I have deserved it, and I earned it and had proven myself. He named me a captain right there on the spot.
“I remember exactly what he said, and I’ll remember it forever, he said he loves when his guys cross the bridge and become men. And then he said, ‘son, I’m going to name you a captain.’ I almost got a tad bit emotional, too, because I felt like that was my moment with Coach. Not everybody has those moments with a legend.”
Hairston came to Duke as the four-star recruit, ranked No. 19 overall in the class of 2010 by ESPN. He has started eight times in three years, averaging 9.4 minutes, 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 91 career contests.
To his credit, Hairston has embraced his role and takes pride in making his teammates better, such as freshman Jabari Parker, whom he guards most often in practice. Hairston will be the most vocal leader of the three captains.
“It makes me feel better,” Hood said of adding Hairston as a captain. “It relaxes me, as far as a player. He can do a lot more talking to the young guys and stuff like that, and I can focus on playing,” he said before adding “But I’m still going to take on that role as far as being a vocal leader. It just makes it easier for me and Tyler.”
In addition to receiving congratulations from his current teammates— Quinn Cook’s face lit up with a genuine smile when asked about Hairston’s appointment—Hairston also received a call from a former teammate: Kyrie Irving. He, Hairston and Thornton, who all came to Duke in the fall of 2010, remain close to this day.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about since I’ve been here,” Hairston said. “To help lead these guys is something that I’ll remember forever.”