While covering this past weekends NBAPA Top 100 Camp I had an opportunity to catch up to Slidell, Louisiana native and former Duke star Chris Duhon. I’ve been into recruiting for over a decade now and was all over Duke’s recruitment of Chris Duhon back in the day.
To this day, no recruit has been shown the love Chris got as he entered Cameron Indoor Stadium where about 1600 fans cheered his every move during his official visit. It was a bizarre scene and while a bit odd, it was quite effective in that Chris and his Mom were thrilled so many came out to see them. As it turned out, the powers that be, felt it was too much of a circus like atmosphere and there has been nothing like it since.
I covered Chris during the Glaxo tournament as well where he won the MVP. Since that time, recruiting has evolved to where fans hang on every word and bounce of the ball but as the years roll by the only real change are the names of the players for the events remain the same.
I was working with Duke Basketball Report during Duhon-mania and to this day you can probably search the archives and find the articles. Little did I know that a post on the DBR message board would have created such a stir and send fans in droves. Talk about a testament as to the power of the internet and Duke fans wanting to support their team, right?
Duhon was a member of the 2001 National Championship team while at Duke and a part of the fabulous comeback win at Maryland that has now become an Instant Classic on ESPN. Duhon for his career ranks 38th on the all time scoring list, 10th in all time three point buckets and 3rd in assists. But it is Duhons defense that will be remembered where he is the all time steals leader at Duke.
His team made the championship game at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp where we saw each other for the first time since the K Academy about four years ago. Duhon, of course, is a free agent and it goes without saying that the Blue Devil Nation wishes him the best with concerns to his future. I hope you enjoy the Q & A with Chris as much as I did.
You’re one of the counselors and or mentors here at the NBAPA Camp, can you speak about that?
Yeah, the NBA Players Association has opportunities for current and retired players and we have the opportunity to come here and we have class sessions on how to coach and what it is like to coach and then we can get to work with some of the top players in the country.
Let me take you back in time for a moment. It was a Saturday on a warm summer day and you payed a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium. There, you were greeted by a bevy of fans that came out to see you work out and play with the team on that visit. It was quite the love fest and nothing like that has happened since in that some considered it to be a circus like atmosphere. That was in the days when the internet was fast becoming a tool of communication for fand. I never thought there would be that kind of turnout and it was a testament to how badly Duke fans wanted you in Durham.
Yes, it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I really didn’t think people followed high school basketball and recruiting like that, but they knew who I was, where I was from and they just embraced me from the beginning and that’s something I’ll never forget. There was a lot of love in there that day and it played a role in my ultimate decision to attend Duke.
Jason Williams was at Duke at the time and I understand he played a role in recruiting you as well despite the fact that both of you were considered to be point guards.
Well, the thing with Jason is that we both didn’t really going on in that we both played the same positions. He ws thinking he’s coming here to replace me and I was thinking do I have to play behind this guy for three years. But Coach [Krzyzewski] made it clear that he expected both of us to be on the court at the same time and we played a pick up game together and remember that our chemistry started off right away and I knew this [Duke} was the place I was going to go.
I understand that you run your own camp in Durham, is that correct?
I do. It’s the last week of July and it’s my way of giving back to the Durham community because they treated me so well for four amazing years. If you are interested go to Chris21.com and all the information is there. It’s a good camp and one that I plan on continuing in the foreseeable future.
Talk about your days in the NBA and what you expect with concerns to your career future.
This is my second year in New York and this is my sixth year so I’m getting old.
Old? By NBA standards?
[laughs] Yes, old by NBA standards. But I’m a free agent this year and I want to explore my options and go to a place that fits me and where I have the opportunity to win so I can feel like the Lakers did this year.
Speaking of opportunities, have you talked to any teams?
You’re not allowed to talk to teams until July 1st. I’ll have a better feel after that.
Do you have any team you might kike to play for?
Not really. I just want a fast up tempo pace and I have always been a defensive guy and I want to play where my defense can help the team win. Sometimes things aren’t in your hands in the league, so we’ll just have to see what happens.
What do you tell the kids here about making a decision where they’ll play college basketball?
I just tell them to be patient and take their time. Don’t rush into anything and listen to their families and mentors and make sure the school is the best place for you because you’re going to be their four years, well, most of them. [smiles]
And your best memories of Duke would be?
Aw man, there are so many. Obviously winning the national championship in 2001 and coming back to beat Maryland up there when everyone thought we were down and out. Being in the Final Four again with those guys, the countless battles with Maryland and Carolina. My whole experience was great. All of the practices and Coaches motivational speeches, team meals, I could go on forever, you might not have enough tape for me.
Speaking of Krzyzewski do you still stay in touch with him?
Oh yeah, all the time. He and I have built a great relationship and I call in to check on him from time to time. I know he’s a busy guy so you can’t blow his phone up all the time. We always check in and I make it a point when in Durham to go over to the office because the program has done so much for me.
What did you think of their ride to the national championship this past season?
Man, I thought it was amazing. I really wanted to get there but we were in L.A. at the time and the only flight that would get me there in time got cancelled, but I followed them in the tournament and it was great to see Coach and his team maximize their potential as they played their hearts out to win.
Last question. You used to sleep with a basketball when you were at Duke. Do you still do that? [jesting]
[Laughs and stays smiling] The basketball has been gone. That’s something JWill started and I did it one time because we were playing around [explaining while smiling] and he had to make it a bigger story than it really was.
Chris, it’s always a pleasure.
It’s great to see you again and thank you.