Delaire making lifetime memories at Stanford
Jaiden Delaire remembers hitting a few go-ahead shots with just a few seconds left on the clock while playing AAU ball.
One time, he hit a 3-pointer to put his team ahead, only to have the opponent immediately follow with a halfcourt shot to send the game into overtime — where Delaire’s team lost.
“That wasn’t a good memory,” he noted. “It’s a good thing I’ve got a new memory.”
Indeed, on Dec.12, Delaire, the North Granby product who’s now a senior at Stanford, made a memory that could last a lifetime.
With three seconds left in regulation and Stanford tied with Oregon at 69 apiece, Delaire took an inbounds pass from Harrison Ingram near midcourt. The 6-foot-9 forward dribbled twice and lofted up a shot from just outside the 3-point line. The ball swished through the hoop just as the buzzer sounded, the final three of Delaire’s team-high 20 points.
“It was so crazy, I really didn’t know what to do,” Delaire recalled. “I kind of was just standing there for a second like, ‘No way that just went in.’ Then, all the guys rushed me, it was a crazy feeling, I felt a world of emotions right then and there after I hit that shot.” Good memory, indeed. In fact, Delaire, a senior, has made a lifetime of memories in his four years at Stanford. After mostly coming off the bench his first two seasons with the Cardinal, averaging 6.1 points per game as a sophomore, he continued to have one clear goal in mind.
“I just wanted to continue to get better ever since I got here as a freshman,” Delaire recalled. “That was my goal, each and every day, to come into practice, make sure I’m not taking steps backwards, continue to take steps forward. Doing that, I knew I put myself in the best position to do what I’ve always hoped to do on the court.”
As a junior last season, Delaire averaged 12.5 points per game, second on the team, and earned Pac-12 Honorable Mention recognition. More notably, he was also named the
Pac-12’s Most Improved Player, a true testament to the hard work he had put in over the prior year.
“I was just eager to put in work in the offseason, heading into my junior year,” he said. “My coaches believed in me, gave me the opportunity to go out there, play through mistakes, get more comfortable, take a leadership role on the team. I appreciate my teammates delivering me the ball in good situations, making that a lot easier for me to do what I had to do — score, and be a playmaker on the offensive end.”
It was a tough season for all college basketball players, and certainly for Stanford players as much as any. Due to the pandemic, athletic teams were not allowed to play games or practice in Santa Clara County, where Stanford is located. So, the Cardinal men’s basketball team moved to a hotel outside the county, practiced and played their home games at the Golden State Warriors’ G-League team’s arena, and were essentially nomads for much of the season.
“We were really, like, homeless for quite a few months,” Delaire recalled.
The Cardinal was finally able to move back on campus in early February, but the team lost its final five games of the season and missed out on any postseason chances.
Still, Delaire looks back on last season fondly.
“That’s an experience that all the guys are always gonna remember, something we can always look back to as motivation as what we’ve done in the past,” he noted. “We’re a really appreciative group for our opportunities.”
So what made a kid from North Granby go to school out West, some 3,000 miles from home? After two years at Granby High and two more at Loomis Chaffee, Delaire had many high-major colleges interested in him, including Vanderbilt, Maryland and, yes, UConn.
Some schools wanted Delaire to reclassify to the Class of 2019 and do an extra year of prep. Stanford was originally one of those schools, but when the staff then had a 2018 scholarship open up, Delaire’s decision became clear.
“I kind of knew, ever since Stanford offered me, that this was the place where I’d love to see how it is,” he recalled. “Coming from boarding school at Loomis, I kind of understood social diversity, and understanding that people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, come to go to school here, who you’re engaged with in the dorms and interacting with on a daily basis.”
Did he ever consider UConn?
“Of course I did,” Delaire said. “That’s the highmajor school in my backyard. I definitely had a good relationship with (Kevin) Ollie, and I had a decent relationship with (Dan) Hurley. I didn’t really know him. He became the coach as I was kind of filtering (through schools).”
Delaire’s grandfather is a huge UConn fan and he remembers watching UConn games growing up.
“Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Jeremy Lamb all had great careers at UConn,” he said. “I definitely aspire to be like them at some point.”
But Stanford, with its world-class education and diverse student body, was too much to pass up.
“No regrets here from me,” Delaire said. “I’m super-excited that I chose to come here and spend my last four years here.”
Delaire is currently the Cardinal’s leading scorer at 12.6 points per game. He has one more year of eligibility left, but his ultimate goal is to play professionally, and it’s simply too early to know whether he’ll turn pro after this season or return for one more year at Stanford.
Either way, Jaiden Delaire has already made a lifetime of memories at his school, some 3,000 miles from home.
“Everybody’s path is different, you never know what could happen,” he said. “But Stanford was the right choice for me.”