Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Nate James Named Austin Peay HC

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Austin Peay State University Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison announced Friday the hiring of Duke University's Nate James as its 13th head men's basketball coach.

James will be formally introduced with a welcoming event set for 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, April 6 at the Dunn Center on APSU's campus.

"I'm extremely excited and honored to be the 13th head men's basketball coach at Austin Peay State University," said James. "To have the opportunity to lead my own program, be part of the amazing vision for a place like APSU and serve a community that embraces its university and student-athletes has been a dream of mine for quite some time. It is exactly what every coach wishes for. I will work endlessly to build a basketball culture with the type of culture that every player, alum, donor and fan will always be proud of. This is an amazing day to be a Gov! Let's Go Peay!"

Twenty years ago to this date, James played 20 minutes for Duke in the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game win against Arizona, earning the first of three national title rings he'd pick up as a Blue Devil -- one as a player and two as an assistant coach under one of college basketball's most legendary names.

"I've known Nate since he was 18 years old, and he's been on our campus for nearly 20 years," said Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I've seen him grow from being a high school center, to becoming one of the most selfless leaders in Duke Basketball history to being an outstanding assistant coach. Austin Peay is getting a remarkable man, who is married to a remarkable woman, Bobbi. I could not be happier for them and their family, as I am for Austin Peay. Nate is a leader, a terrific worker and a trustworthy friend. You can count on anything that he says. He earned the respect of his teammates as one of the captains of our 2001 national championship team, and has since brought that championship mentality to our coaching staff. I will miss Nate immensely. Austin Peay has one of the great people in college athletics in Gerald Harrison as its director of athletics and he has made an amazing hire. I'm looking forward to seeing the success they'll have together."

James becomes the 11th former Duke player or staff member under Coach K currently serving as a head coach at the Division I level or the NBA, joining Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Kenney Blakeney (Howard), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Jeff Capel (Pittsburgh), Chris Collins (Northwestern), Johnny Dawkins (UCF), Bobby Hurley (Arizona State), Greg Paulus (Niagara), Mike Schrage (Elon) and Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz).

The 43-year old James has basketball -- and success -- ingrained in him. From his time as a player to his tenure as a coach, James has been a part of 22 regular-season, tournament or national title teams. Thirty players in James' sphere of influence have earned All-ACC honors during his time at Duke, with 17 earning All-America honors, five earning National Freshman of the Year and two -- Marvin Bagley III in 2018 and Zion Williamson in 2019 -- being named National Player of the Year. During his time, Duke had five players named ACC Player of the Year and eight named ACC Freshman of the Year, including six in seven seasons from 2014-20.

"I am excited to welcome Nate, Bobbi, Nate III and Dash to Austin Peay and introduce them to the Clarksville community," said Harrison. "Nate is a man of incredible integrity who has been a huge part of one of college basketball's most successful programs for much of the last two decades. He is committed to the student-athlete experience and the principles of the 'Total Gov Concept.' His depth of experience, his ability to recruit and retain outstanding young men, and his desire to help them excel on and off the court will make him a huge asset to our university and our department. Simply put, Nate James is a champion and a leader. I am proud to say he is the head coach of the Austin Peay Men's Basketball team."

James' credentials are unimpeachable -- after spending much of the last two-plus decades in Durham as a player and coach, few can boast the combination of high-level experience, expertise and credibility his name carries in the scope of Division I college basketball.

"Euphoric congratulations to Nate, Bobbi and the children on this well-deserved leadership opportunity," said Duke Vice President and Director of Athletic Kevin White. "To be sure, Nate's championship experience -- both as a student-athlete and coach -- is elite and he leaves Duke well-prepared to transition into the head coaching role at Austin Peay. The best is yet to come for Coach James."

Since 2008, James has been on the Duke men's basketball staff under Coach K, starting out as an assistant strength and conditioning coach before working his way into an on-court role in 2009 and eventually ascending to an associate head coach role in 2017, where he remained for the past four seasons.

With James on staff, the Blue Devils won a pair of national titles in 2010 and 2015 and won 30 or more games five times. James and the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 eight times, the Elite Eight five times and made two Final Four appearances both resulting in national titles in 2010 and 2015. With James in the fold, Duke hung six conference championship banners, including three-straight ACC Tournament titles from 2009-11 and again in 2017 and 2019.

During his time in Durham, James helped in the recruitment and development of some of the most notable names to take the floor in the history of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Since 2009, Duke has produced 21 first-round NBA Draft choices, including nine players in the top-10 since 2015. Four former Blue Devils from James' time on the sidelines -- Zion Williamson, Kyrie IrvingJayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram -- have earned All-Star nods just in the last two seasons.

From 1996-01, James played under Krzyzewski, accumulating more than 1,000 points across his career. The two-time captain helped the Blue Devils win or share five ACC regular-season titles during his playing career—a feat no other player in ACC history can claim. In fact, James tallied nine total titles as a player—one NCAA Championship, five regular-season ACC crowns and three more ACC Tournament Championship rings. As a senior, he was named third-team All-ACC by the league's media and was a member of the league's All-Defensive Team.

Following his collegiate career, James played professionally from 2002-07 both domestically and overseas, with stops in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Poland and Russia during a whirlwind international career. True to his winning pedigree, James helped teams in Hungary and the Netherlands earn league titles. He also earned an invite to training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2004.

Before becoming a linchpin to some of Krzyzewski's most successful Duke squads, James was a 1996 McDonald's All-American at Saint John's Catholic Prep in Maryland, where he won the three-point contest and was also named the McDonald's All-American Sportsmanship Award winner. The son of a Marine, James spent his youth in Quantico, Virginia; Albany, Georgia; San Diego, California; and Washington, D.C. before his father retired as a Sergeant Major.  

James graduated from Duke in 2001 with a degree in sociology and a minor in African-American studies. He and his wife, actress Bobbi Baker James, have two sons, Nathanial Drake James III and Michael Dash James.

DJ Steward One and Done at Duke

Duke men's basketball freshman guard DJ Steward has announced he will enter his name in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Duke men's basketball freshman guard DJ Steward has announced he will enter his name in the 2021 NBA Draft.

An ACC All-Freshman selection and the conference's leading freshman scorer, Steward averaged 13.0 points to become the seventh Blue Devil in the last eight seasons to lead all ACC freshmen in points per game. The dynamic scoring guard from Chicago started 22 games, shot .426 from the field, .341 from three-point range, .811 at the free throw line and scored in double figures 17 times. Steward finished the year with at least one three-pointer in each of his final 21 games.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to achieve my dreams and goals," said Steward. "And I would also like to thank my family for their love and support, and for that I am always grateful. Playing for Duke was an incredible experience, and I thank Coach KJon Scheyer and the entire Duke family and staff for trusting, believing and preparing me for the next level. I appreciate my teammates pushing me every day and holding me accountable on and off the court. To the Cameron Crazies, although it was a weird year with COVID-19, I will never forget the love, support and energy you showed our team. Through all the trials and tribulations, it has allowed me to become a better person and player. Playing in the NBA has always been a lifelong goal of mine and after spending time with my family, I have decided to declare for 2021 NBA Draft with the intent to sign an agent."

Steward was twice named ACC Freshman of the Week – first on Dec. 21, coming off a 16-point, five-rebound effort at Notre Dame, and again on Jan. 11 after averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 boards in wins over Boston College and Wake Forest. He earned ACC All-Freshman Team status, marking the 10th consecutive year Duke has boasted an All-Freshman selection. He was Duke's second leading scorer, while averaging 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

"DJ had an incredible freshman season and he has so much more potential," said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He is going to keep getting better and better and I can't wait to watch his professional career develop. DJ will be an asset to any NBA team with an attitude and energy that make him very easy and enjoyable to coach. He came in every day with a smile on his face and he represented himself, his family and our program so well. I loved coaching DJ and wish him our best as he prepares for the next step in his career."

The Blue Devils have had at least one player selected in 33 of 40 NBA Drafts under Krzyzewski. Coach K has tutored a total of 67 draft picks since taking over the Duke program, including a Draft-record 41 first-round selections.

Jaemyn Brakefield Enters Transfer Portal

DURHAM – Duke men’s basketball freshman forward Jaemyn Brakefield will enter his name into the transfer portal, seeking a transfer to another Division I institution.“The opportunity to be a Blue Devil meant the world to me and I want to thank everyone I met in my time here at Duke,” said Brakefield. “The bonds I built will be with me forever. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals to be around during these unpredictable times and I thank my coaches, teammates and our fans for accepting me with open arms. With that being said, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal. I look forward to experiencing what God has in store for me ahead.”

An All-ACC Academic selection, Brakefield played in 22 games and made two starts this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per games. The Jackson, Miss., native stepped up during a three-game ACC winning streak, averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in victories over NC State, Wake Forest and Virginia, including 11 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots in the UVa victory. His career high of 12 points came vs. Bellarmine.

“We support the decision made by Jaemyn and his family,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “He was a terrific representative of our program and we wish him all of the best as he continues his academic and athletic pursuits. Jaemyn has a bright future ahead of him and we will miss him.”

Duke ended its season, which was stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 13-11 overall record and a 9-9 mark in ACC play.

Duke Out of ACC Tournament

GREENSBORO – The Duke University men’s basketball team will not continue competing in the 2021 ACC Tournament due to the school’s and conference’s health and safety protocols. The determination was made following the positive COVID-19 test within a member of the program’s Tier 1 personnel after Wednesday’s game.

Kevin White, Duke University Vice President & Director of Athletics
“Unfortunately, after going an entire season with no positive COVID-19 tests among our men’s basketball student-athletes and coaching staff, one member of our program tested positive following Wednesday’s ACC Tournament game in Greensboro. After working with our medical professionals and following Duke and ACC Medical Advisory Group health, safety, and contact tracing protocols, the student-athletes on our team are now in quarantine. Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and the very best during the next few weeks.”

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University Head Men’s Basketball Coach
“While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach. We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are. I feel deeply for our players, who have done a terrific job all season in taking care of each other and the team.  I am extremely proud of their collective attitudes and effort, which could not have been stronger. We are disappointed we cannot keep fighting together as a group after two outstanding days in Greensboro. This season was a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen over and over, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not yet over.  As many safeguards as we implemented, no one is immune to this terrible virus.”

The Blue Devils had won their first two games in the ACC Tournament and were set to face Florida State in the quarterfinals on Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. Duke is 13-11 overall and finished 10th in the ACC with a 9-9 record.

Mark Williams Talks his Big Night

Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Championship

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Duke Blue Devils

Mark Williams

Postgame Press Conference

Duke 70, Louisville 56

Q. Tonight you set an ACC Tournament freshman record with 19 rebounds in the game. When Coach took you out of the game, were you trying to get number 20?

MARK WILLIAMS: A little bit, but at the end of the day, it's about getting the win. We played really well today, and now it's just on to Florida State.

Q. After having such a game like this, I know it's three games in three days, I know the fatigue factor gets in, but do you feel tired after putting up 23 and 19 tonight?

MARK WILLIAMS: I feel all right right now. But just going to head back, recover, prepare for Florida State tomorrow.

Q. Tell us a little bit about what you guys were talking about at halftime. They had the big run by Louisville late in the first half, and you guys came out and had a good run the second half. What were some of the things you were emphasizing at that point?

MARK WILLIAMS: We just knew it was going to be a fight. We fought for the first 12 minutes and had a little lapse towards the end of the first half. But coming out in the second half, we knew we had to start aggressive and keep our foot on the gas.

Q. How important was Jeremy by knocking down a couple threes in that half to get you some of that margin?

MARK WILLIAMS: He was huge. He made a couple big shots, big plays, so credit goes to him.

Q. It doesn't always seem like you are the most expressive guy on the court, but you had a dunk with about three and a half minutes left that sort of put things away. Can you walk us through what you're feeling in that moment, what that was like for you?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, just expressing some emotion. We lost to that team twice in the regular season, and that feeling hurt. To come out today and play the way that we did, it was fun to play.

Q. What was your team's game plan defensively and how do you think you guys executed so well to be so successful?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, we just watched a lot of film from the first times, made a couple of adjustments. And from there, we made a couple like changes for each player, and it showed good success. It worked out pretty well today.

Q. You guys have played Louisville twice this year. The first game you didn't play, the second game wasn't your best night. Did you feel like tonight Louisville finally got to see kind of what you're capable of?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah. You know, I didn't play that first time, but from there, I just had to grow, keep working hard. And then today I just got to show a little bit of what I could do.

Q. Did that feel pretty good to kind of show off and be like, this is what Mark Williams is about?

MARK WILLIAMS: I think it was just more important that we got the win today. We're fighting for our lives at this point, so I think that was probably the biggest thing.

Q. That dunk with three minutes left, that was sort of the last occurrence of when it seemed like Louisville was trying to make it a game. What sort of mindset allowed you guys to sort of respond in that fashion throughout the second half today?

MARK WILLIAMS: Again, I think probably just remembering that we lost to them twice. You know, you don't want to lose to a team three times, so just staying aggressive, keeping our foot on the gas and defending.

Q. A lot of times when we ask teammates about a performance like this, they'll say we've seen it in practice all the time so it doesn't surprise us. 23 and 19 is a different animal. Have you felt yourself capable of something like this in practice and will your teammates essentially say that?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, a lot of my teammates have given me confidence. They know if they hit me that they trust me to make the right decision, whether it's to go up or to kick it out. So I think that really just showed for itself today.

Q. Early part of the game, you had some wobbles from the foul line, and in the second half with the game up for grabs, very much on the line, you set up a knock-down (indiscernible). Just talk about that part of your game.

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was in a slump early, but Coach just gave me confidence to knock down the next one. At the free-throw line, you've got to clear your head from the last shot and just focus on the one in front of you.

Q. It feels like you're unveiling something new almost every game. This game it was like the one-handed offensive rebound tip. Can you talk a little bit about what you've been doing in practice, and have you been adding new stuff to your game lately?

MARK WILLIAMS: As far as the rebounding is concerned, I think that was more just an effort thing, just attacking the glass. Coach told me attack the glass. I didn't really rebound that well last game, so I had that in the back of my head today.

Q. In terms of -- I'm sure you guys have always had confidence each game, whether it's win or lose. But now that you guys have won two in a row, do you feel as a group that momentum and confidence building and how can you continue to build on that and hopefully win another one and another one and another one?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think we've got to take it one game at a time, focus on what's in front of us. We can't look at what's ahead. Take it one game at a time, prepare for each game and go from there.FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Coach K on BC Win

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Duke Blue Devils

Mike Krzyzewski

Postgame Press Conference

Duke 86, Boston College 51

Q. I'm sure everyone would love to hear an opening statement, comments about the game, but maybe we can start with the start. You got off to a great start in this contest 10-2 and built on it from there. How important was that?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Huge. In the games that we've played well, we haven't turned the ball over and we played good -- and got good shots, and we haven't started out in a hole. Today playing like that to begin with, and then -- we played a really good game. Our perimeter was outstanding. They shared the ball. We had 22 assists. We shot the ball well.

We came here yesterday. We drove in to do our 45-minute practice just to get a good feel because we knew there wouldn't be hardly any warmup for our game. And our kids really -- the perimeter really shot the ball well yesterday. Sometimes you do that the day before the game and not the day of, but it seemed to carry over.

Obviously our defense was good and we had really good balance scoring.

And the contribution from Henry was key, real key.

Q. Talking about sharing of the ball and all those assists, because you guys moved the ball around so well and moved their defense around. Seemed like some of those plays that could have been second assists because they set up so many good shots for each other.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: That's a good point. A couple of the time-outs when we made those shots, what we reminded the guys of is when the guy makes that extra and then an extra pass, you almost always hit that shot because the guy receiving it, it's like, the other guy said, look, I have confidence in you to hit it. I could have taken it but I have confidence in you.

Those are beautiful plays, and we haven't had a lot of them, but we had a good number of them today.

Q. You mentioned the shot selection and the extra ball movement being so key. Compared to the past few games, maybe the perimeter hadn't been quite at the level you would have liked.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Right.

Q. Is the ball movement and the shot selection, is it that simple for the perimeter guys to continue this rate over the next couple of days?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Let's just do it for the next day. We just got to think one day at a time.

No, they do that. We're not a veteran team, so you keep -- when we won those games in a row, you could see some things developing. And then those two tough losses, we -- I don't know. We didn't move it as well. It's not -- that habit, it's not there yet, but it was there today. Hopefully it'll be there tomorrow against Louisville.

Q. You know better than most about what can happen in this tournament when teams pick up momentum. Can you just speak on that and the history of momentum in this tournament and kind of what you saw from your team today that you feel like can carry over?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I hope we can carry it over. You never know about momentum. Obviously we played really well today. They had fun playing. After losing three games in a row -- two tough ones and then Carolina really kicked us -- you can be down. I didn't think our team was down.

They really practiced well yesterday and very upbeat, and they came in and did that again. They've been good kids. I just hope we can keep it going against Louisville tomorrow. I'm glad it's an evening game where we get a little bit of a chance to prepare, get our guys some fluids, get them therapy tonight and then see what happens.

Q. How much conversation did you have with your team about playing in this tournament and just having fun and playing loose, and did that translate with their effort today?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we had a -- really when we got back from Carolina in the locker room, we came back and had a short meeting and said, look, we just got beat badly, and that's it. That's the end of that season. We're not going to show tape. We're not going to do anything; let's start anew. We tried to carry that over and the next day in our meetings, all we did was have a short lift and had some meetings, and everyone was real positive.

The kids were energetic. You know, they -- and yesterday they were very energetic. Again, coming here was really important, that 45 minutes.

You know, the Greensboro Coliseum is a beautiful place, and I really think when our guys walked out on the court, that lifted them, too. And then I told them before the 45 minutes started, before the balls were given out, that -- I just told them a few stories about some of the games that were played there. The first championship that we won in '86, Coach Scheyer against Georgia Tech. It was about 1 for 11 and we called his number, and he hit a big shot that won us the tournament.

I said, you know, look, Greensboro Coliseum is about moments. I said, try to have a moment tomorrow, and if we have the moment tomorrow, maybe you'll have another one. Don't look at it at five games or anything like that. Just try to take advantage of each day that we're given the opportunity to play.

Q. With your team's youth and then obviously the cancellations last year, with the exception of Joey and Jordan, none of your freshmen and sophomores have ever appeared in a postseason game until today. What have you seen from those young guys' kind of mindset coming into postseason play?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, just excitement, I think the main thing. DJ has had a smile on his face for two days. He's just geeked, he's so excited.

It's neat to see -- for this 74-yearold guy to see these young guys get excited, and that's after losing a few games at the end of the season. So they were able to put that behind them and just play with enthusiasm.

But your point is a good one, and now they have played one. Now we've got a chance to play another, and hopefully we can do well in that.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the two games with Louisville and kind of what you've taken from those two as you get ready to play them for the third time?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, let me decompress here a little bit. They were both really outstanding games, and their veteran backcourt was the difference. Johnson is terrific. Jones in the last four or five minutes of a game is probably the best in our conference in managing the game and making the right decisions. So we're going to face them again, and we'll try to do stuff where we can limit them.

That's the main thing is to -- I mean, they're really good, but those two guards are exceptional. They're going to be professional guards at some level.