I’ve always known that Duke is a top-tier academic institution, so coming in I was a little apprehensive about what classes would be like when I actually got into the school year.
A couple weeks have gone by now and I feel like I’ve acclimated pretty well. All my courses are interesting and I’m enjoying every one of my classes.
I’ve been able to settle into a routine: go to class, grab a bite to eat, put in my work on the court or in the weight room and go to study hall. Repeat. I’ve fallen into that habit pretty quickly.
It can sometimes be a struggle to keep everything balanced. The start of the school year is a brand new environment. You want to meet people, have the experience, be a normal kid. At the same time, we have a responsibility as members of this basketball program.
You have to make decisions. After practice, you’re tired but you have work to do. There are other things going on around you that you might want to experience, but you have to keep in mind what’s going to pay off in the long run.
Having discipline and time management skills is very important for my teammates and me. They are skills that I want to hone even more now that I’m a college student. We have to budget our time wisely or there’s no way we’d be able to get everything done.
Our coaching staff has made it clear to us that it’s absolutely vital to get into a flow academically before the season starts because of the time commitments that we’ll have once we start playing games and traveling.
Part of the reason I love Duke is that academics are no joke here. Our coaches take academics very seriously. They hold us to a high academic standard.
That was a big reason that I was drawn to Duke. I love the value that Coach places on academics. It’s more than just basketball with him. We’re at a great academic institution, and Coach wants to make sure that we’re making the most of our opportunity.
One of the great things about our team that people don’t really get to see is that we hold each other accountable academically. Nobody is afraid to speak up and say something like, “Hey, man. Let’s go. You have a paper to write.” I love the fact that, in our program, everyone can feel comfortable holding everyone else accountable to our standards.
We have to hold each other accountable in that regard because we all know that if one person slips up academically, we all suffer. The older guys have been great since I got to summer school, offering advice on how to manage my time or handle my class load.
It’s been fantastic to become a part of this campus community. Duke is very diverse. In terms of combining basketball and academics, it’s the best place in the world for me to be.
When I wake up every day, I’m still a little bit in shock. To be a Duke basketball player and go to school here is a dream come true. It’s an awesome experience.