Duke Basketball: Season preview for junior forward Javin DeLaurier

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

What Duke basketball junior forward Javin DeLaurier lacks in natural offensive ability he more than makes up for with his smart play, defense, rebounding, and leadership.

He’s long, strong, and would be the most athletic player on most any other squad in the country. But on a Duke basketball team filled with freakishly athletic freshmen, Javin DeLaurier’s experience and leadership — which includes him providing a perfect example of how to communicate with his teammates while playing defense — will serve as his most essential contributions this season.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound junior forward — who is sharing captain duties with his roommate, fellow junior Jack White — may or may not join the Blue Devils’ four most-hyped freshmen in the starting lineup when Duke tips off its season against Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis on Nov. 6 at 9:30 p.m.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s initial choice for the squad’s fifth starter will likely heavily depend on the performance of another junior big man, Marques Bolden, during this final week of preseason preparations.

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But even if DeLaurier never gets the starting nod, he is sure to see plenty of action throughout the season.

Not only is the Shipman, Va., native the program’s top returning defender — he had a total of 21 steals and 19 blocks while averaging only 12.7 minutes during his sophomore campaign — but he has taken great strides in the offseason to improve his offensive attack.

Although DeLaurier does not possess the smoothest of moves with the ball in his hands, he is a determined student of the game and is well aware of his own limitations, meaning he doesn’t often make mistakes from trying to do too much.

Across the Duke basketball team’s entire preseason play (including a three-game Canada Tour, the Blue-White scrimmage, and two recent exhibition games), DeLaurier has hit 16 of his 22 shots, including 2-of-6 from three, while also grabbing 29 rebounds.

So while the 20-year-old isn’t likely to often score in bunches — he has only averaged 2.9 points across his first two seasons in Durham — he also won’t be responsible for wasting many of the Blue Devils’ possessions.

In summary, Duke basketball fans can count on DeLaurier offering an athletic presence in the paint — one that will have no issue keeping up with the fast, high-flying freshmen — while being ready to help keep the emotions of his younger teammates in check and challenging them to talk more while on the floor.

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Simply put, DeLaurier will unselfishly take on whatever role is needed just to make the Blue Devils better — as any worthy captain would.