Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Former Duke standout Nate James has been a member the Blue
Devils' staff since the 2007-08 season, serving as an assistant strength and
conditioning coach for one year and spending three seasons as an assistant
coach prior to being named a special assistant on April 8, 2011.
James, a Washington, D.C. native, is among former Duke standouts
Steve Wojciechowski (associate head coach), Chris Collins (associate head
coach) and Jeff Capel (assistant coach) who are former Blue Devil captains on
Mike Krzyzewski's staff.
"Nate has done a very good job with us as an assistant coach
and he will continue to be a huge asset to our program in his new role," said
Krzyzewski. "He has a bright future ahead of him and this opportunity will help
him continue to grow and develop."
As an assistant coach from 2008-2011, James helped the Blue
Devils to a 95-17 record with three ACC Tournament titles and the 2010 NCAA
Championship. Although his new role will not include on-court coaching, he will
continue to assist the staff in developing game strategies, breaking down game
film, planning practices and contributing in staff meetings.
In 2010-11, James helped guide Duke to its third straight
ACC title and the program's 12th 30-win season. He assisted in the development
of both perimeter and post players, particularly sophomores Andre Dawkins, Ryan
Kelly and Mason Plumlee. The trio more than doubled its production from
2009-10, combining to average 21.9 points and 14.0 rebounds per game while
shooting 52.8 percent (307-of-581) from the field.
As a coach who had won a national championship as a player
in 2001, James' insight helped the Duke squad as it made its run to the
national championship in 2010 along with ACC Tournament, ACC Regular Season and
NIT Season Tip-Off titles. In the 2009-10 season, James helped guide one of the
nation's top defenses as the Blue Devils held opponents to 61.0 points per
game. Duke ranked 14th out of 334 teams in rebounding margin, mainly due to the
improvement of the post players under James and Wojciechowski. One of those
post players, senior Brian Zoubek, set the school record for offensive rebounds
in a single season with 143. The other starter on the inside, senior Lance
Thomas, was named to the ACC All-Defensive team by the coaches and the
In his first season as a Duke assistant coach, James worked
with the inside players. He helped coach Kyle Singler to second team All-ACC
honors as he became only the sixth sophomore in Duke history to reach 1,000
career points. Singler averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on his
way to earning honorable mention All-America honors by the Associated Press.
James played in 135 games from 1997-2001 with 63 starts. He
scored 1,116 points, had 500 rebounds and shot 47.3 percent from the floor.
While known mostly for defense and rebounding, he also hit 11 career
three-pointers. Duke won or shared the ACC regular-season championship in all
five years that he was on the team, a feat achieved by no other player in
James brought a warrior mentality to the court that set an
example for his teammates and contributed to many victories. Sometimes that
meant scoring, as in the 26 points he had against Texas to help Duke win the
2001 Preseason NIT or the career-high 27 that he scored at Clemson later that
year on 10-of-14 shooting. James' warrior spirit usually showed in the way he
went after loose balls and rebounds, the way he defended, the way he attacked
weight training workouts - all activities that led one publication to name him
the ACC's most underrated player in 2001. ACC coaches, meanwhile, named him to
the league's all-defensive team, while the media voted him third team All-ACC
as a senior.
Three of James' most noteworthy moments were against
Maryland in 2001. In the final seconds at College Park, not far from his home,
he hit a pair of free throws in the face of an antagonistic crowd to send the
game into overtime. In the ACC semifinals, his penchant for finding offensive
rebounds led to the winning tip-in just moments before the final buzzer. And in
the second half of the NCAA semis in 2001, James stepped up to lock down Juan
Dixon, who had torched the Blue Devils for 16 first half points. Dixon scored
just three points in the second half as Duke rallied from a large deficit for
One of his most significant contributions to the 2001 NCAA
crown was the way he handled his move out of the starting lineup late in the
year. James had started 29 straight games heading into the regular season
finale against North Carolina. But Mike Krzyzewski wanted to rework his lineup
after an injury to Carlos Boozer, so he decided he needed James to come off the
bench. James accepted the move and played over 24 minutes per game in Duke's
nine postseason victories. James' unselfishness prompted head coach Mike
Krzyzewski to state that James may have been the biggest winner of all: "When
he walked off the court in Minneapolis, he was not only a champion in basketball
- Nate James was a champion in life."
A 2001 Duke graduate, James scored over 1,000 career points
as a member of the program from 1996-2001. He helped the Blue Devils to a 71-9
ACC regular season record and is the only player in ACC history with five
straight regular season conference titles (he redshirted in 1998 after playing
in six games).
James, a two-time team captain, played on a pair of Final
Four teams, including Duke's 2001 NCAA Championship squad. As a senior, James
averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while helping the
Blue Devils to a 35-4 record. He earned All-ACC and ACC All-Defensive team
honors in his 2001 senior season.
With 117 career victories James is among the winningest
players in school history, ranking tied for sixth with Danny Ferry. Duke posted
a winning percentage of .867 (117-18) with James on the court, placing him
sixth on the career list. Along with his five regular season ACC championships,
he was also a member of three ACC Tournament Championship squads at Duke.
James made his mark on the Duke records book as a player. He
is one of 60 players in school history to score over 1,000 career points and
now ranks 50th on the all-time list with 1,116 points in his career. In 135
career games he averaged 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting
.473 (387-of-818) from the field. He is one of 45 players in Duke history with
500 career rebounds and ranks 23rd all-time at Duke with 147 career
Following his career at Duke, James played professionally in
the United States and overseas from 2002-2007. After being named the Carolinas
Basketball League Most Valuable Player in 2003, James spent various parts of
the next five seasons playing in Bosnia, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece,
Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Philippines, Poland and Russia. He was also
with the Philadelphia 76ers during their training camp in 2004.
In the off-season, James has directed a summer basketball
camp with former Blue Devil Chris Carrawell in Durham. The camp teaches the
importance of fundamentals in the game of basketball and life.
James earned his degree in sociology with a minor in
African-American studies in 2001. He is married to Bobbi Baker-James and
currently resides in Durham. The couple has one son, Nathaniel Drake James III.