River Lions’ DeLaurier motivated by mom
Mother knows best, at least when it comes to the play of Niagara River Lions forward Javin DeLaurier.
“My mom was my first coach, she’s my biggest fan and my harshest critic,” said the 23-year-old native of Mission Viejo, Calif. “She actually used to boo me in high school all the time when I wasn’t playing up to my standard. When I was in high school, we had a pretty small gym with one side of bleachers. I would be dribbling the ball and you could hear ‘Boo, boo. You suck. You are over-rated.’ She was brutal and she really let me have it.
“She did it up through high school and I am sure she even did in mentally when I was college.”
DeLaurier never got rattled by his mom’s motivating ways and took them how they were meant.
“I would look up and smile because that was her way of trying to motivate me to achieve what I could achieve,” the former Duke Blue Devils captain said. “My mom has been a huge influence on me and she is why I picked up a ball in the first place.”
His mom, C’ta, coached him at the recreational level and was anything but a typical basketball mom. She played college basketball for Rutgers and earned Atlantic 10 Tournament MVP honours in 1993. His aunt, Deanna Mitchelson, also played college basketball at Virginia. C’ta is 6-foot-3 and Mitchelson is 6-foot-2.
Javin, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion, sees no similarities in his game compare to his mom’s.
“I am a lot more athletic than my mom used to be but she had faster hands and was probably a little bit of a better shooter. I will give her that,” he said.
His mom’s good-natured ribbing helped DeLaurier fulfil the promise he had when he was named a four star recruit and the All Central Virginia Player of the Year coming out of high school. Following a four-year career at Duke, the 6-foot-10 player attended the Charlotte Hornets’ training camp in 2020 and played for the Greensboro Swarm in the 2021 NBA G League Bubble in 2021, where he averaged 2.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 11.1 minutes of playing time.
His time in both locales proved invaluable.
“As a pro, I learned the work ethic that you have to have, how you have to take care of your body and how thin the margin is when you get to these levels of professional basketball,” he said. “You can’t get away with as much and you really have to refine your craft.”
River Lions head coach Victor Raso loves what he has seen from DeLaurier, who is coming off a game where he recorded 17 points and 17 rebounds in a 71-68 come-from-behind victory over the Hamilton Honey Badgers at home Saturday.
“From a physical perspective, he makes us incredibly versatile defensively. His ability to be aggressive on ball screens, switch on to guards, and then provide shot blocking at the rim allows us to be aggressive defensively which has been our biggest weapon in the last five games,” Raso said. “From a mental perspective, Javin is incredibly coachable and thoughtful. He wants to get better, he handles feedback in a very mature manner, and his teammates like him. You can tell why he was so beloved at Duke. He’s a great teammate.”
He feels the next step for DeLaurier is to continue to be more polished offensively.
“Defensively right now, he has the tools and mental makeup to play in the NBA and if he can keep progressing offensively, I think he’s going to have a chance to have an NBA career.”
DeLaurier agrees with that assessment.
“That is something as a basketball player that you are always trying to work on and for me, it’s really refining my offensive skills and making sure that I am a force on both ends of the floor. Being a complete player is really something that I have tried to work on.”
He landed with the River Lions this season thanks to his Toronto-based agent, Gary Durrant, being a friend of River Lions assistant GM Antwi Atuahene.
“It is a great opportunity for me, especially during a COVID year where we have an extended off-season, to come up and play in a quality league without having to leave the North American continent. I have come up here and I have really enjoyed my experience.”
No one had to twist DeLaurier’s arm to have him come to Niagara.
“It was a way for me to continue to play and develop my game,” he said. “Something that I thought was essential was being on the court playing, especially coming off a pandemic year where we all had to take time off. Coming to Niagara was an easy choice for me.”
DeLaurier is already familiar with Canada. While playing for Duke, he played in an exhibition series against Canadian schools in 2018, including games against the University of Toronto, Ryerson and McGill.
“We got to see Toronto and Montreal and that was my first introduction to Canada. I was little bit familiar already and I knew it wasn’t going to be too big of an adjustment. I have really enjoyed immersing myself in Canadian culture.”
The Canadianization of DeLaurier has clearly started.
“I can’t lie to you. I am a big Tim Hortons fan and it is near and dear to my heart,” he said, professing a fondness for the java chain’s farmer wraps and coffee. “I am also using some of the lingo. I say, ‘eh’ a lot more than I did a couple months ago.”
He has enjoyed the calibre of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
“It is a super-competitive league and you can’t take any opponent lightly and with the Elam Endings it can go down to the wire. It has been a fun and competitive environment.”
The River Lions (4-3) host the Saskatchewan Rattlers (0-8) today at 7 p.m at the Meridian Centre.