Coach K calls Zion Williamson ‘the perfect storm for uniqueness and success’
Jack White has yet to start Duke basketball game. Javin DeLaurier has done it only five times.
Together, though, the two juniors represent an important aspect of this year’s Blue Devils, something that must be effective.
With four freshmen expected to start for No. 4 Duke in its season-opening game against No 2 Kentucky on Nov. 6, the experience and program knowledge White and DeLaurier possess is vast compared to their teammates.
That’s why, despite reserve roles throughout their careers, they were named captains by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the team announced Friday.
“I couldn’t pick two more worthy individuals to lead our team than Javin and Jack,” Krzyzewski said. “They have done everything we’ve asked, from the end of last year to now, to be ready to lead this team. Jack and Javin have earned the respect of our players and staff, and I’m proud to have them as captains.”
DeLaurier, White and Marques Bolden are the three upperclassmen currently in Duke’s top playing rotation. Those three, along with freshmen Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish, R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones plus sophomore guard Alex O’Connell are Duke’s top eight players.
DeLaurier’s five career starts are the most among that group.
In season’s past, when Duke had experienced starters in juniors and seniors like Quinn Cook, Matt Jones, Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen to show freshmen stars like Brandon Ingram, Jayson Tatum, Wendell Carter and Marvin Bagley how things are done at Duke.
Duke has no players who played more than 13 minutes per game last season. Bolden is the leading returning scorer with 3.9 points per game.
Still, the freshmen have been willing learners so far. Players like DeLaurier and White are proving able to work hard even when starring roles on the team aren’t likely due to the major talent in the freshmen class.
“We have tremendous chemistry on our team,” Krzyzewski said. “The upperclassmen that we have are secure in what they are. A really good team becomes a special team if the talent on the team is secure. What that means is they try to make everyone better.”
DeLaurier had played his way into a starting job along with the four freshmen before a stress reaction in his foot sidelined him for two weeks earlier this month. He’s back practicing and playing, but Bolden started when Duke beat Virginia Union 96-64 in Tuesday night’s exhibition.
Still, the 6-10, 234-pound DeLaurier is versatile enough to play at the three-point line or under the basket. He’s also an effective on-court communicator, especially on defense where the newcomers need direction in real time.
“It’s a tremendous honor and I’m very excited for the chance to lead this team,” DeLaurier said. “We have a great group that’s capable of achieving all of our goals as long as we stick to the plan. I’m so grateful and humbled to be chosen a captain by Coach K.”
The 6-7 White, an Australian, averaged 5.8 minutes per game while playing in 38 contests over his first two seasons at Duke. He’s developed into a steady 3-point shooter who can help the Blue Devils off the bench in a larger role this season.
“I’m honored to be selected a captain,” White said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity, and the chance to be a captain alongside my teammate and best friend, is tremendously special.”