Brick by brick — That was a phrase often used by former Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry in his discussing his ten year plan for the program. I’m not here today to discuss how ludicrous needing to have ten years is to build a winner, but rather I’d like to look at some of the players who transferred out and the signees who went elsewhere when the coaching change was made. This seems like a good time for it with Ferry and Penn State coming to town in 2 weeks.
Nakye Sanders, Towson: Sanders was an interesting case. A 6-8 big man out of Staten Island, Sanders came highly touted to the bluff. His two years were marred with inconsistency and foul trouble. He put up respectable averages of 5.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg as a sophomore at Duquesne. Thus far at Towson he’s average 9 & 5. Solid numbers for sure, but with the current crop of bigs at Duquesne he wouldn’t have seen much playing time as a senior.
Spencer Littleson, Toledo: Littleson came to the Bluff from Michigan and struggled to gain playing time as a freshman sitting behind Mike Lewis, Tarin Smith and Emile Blackman. He put up 1.6 ppg on an 8.4 minute average during his freshman year at Duquesne. His numbers haven’t been much better at Toledo where he is scoring 4.4 ppg although he had a very solid showing Wednesday against Detroit with 14 points.
Isiaha Mike, SMU: Mike was Ferry’s biggest recruit at Duquesne and he lived up to those lofty expectations during his freshman year on the bluff averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds per game. Mike was the one argument many pundits had when campaigning for Ferry to get another year. Those pundits were wrong. That’s another article for another day. Mike is putting up respectable numbers at SMU, averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds per game. He has a very high ceiling and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he plays in the NBA.
Lewis Djonkam, Radford: Djonkam played his freshman year at VCU before transferring to Radford. At VCU he averaged less than a point and rebound per game. With the depth and quality of Duquesne’s current big men Djonkam would have never seen the floor if he had come to the bluff.
Jamari Wheeler, Penn State: Wheeler was very highly-touted coming out of the sunshine state. He eventually followed Ferry to Penn State. Wheeler proved valuable to PSU as a freshman as he carved out a defensive role for himself helping the Nittany Lions to an NIT Championship. This season he’s averaging 3 points but is still a stellar defender.
John Walker III, Texas A&M: Walker was looked at as a sleeper in this class. He eventually ended up in College Station and redshirted as a freshman. In limited action this season he’s averaging 5.6 ppg and 3 rebounds while flashing his enormous potential. Walker would have been a great piece for the Duquesne program. He is also playing at a position of strength for Duquesne so its easier to accept that loss.
Darius Banks, James Madison: Banks de-committed from Duquesne before Ferry was even fired. He ended up with the other Dukes in Harrisonburg, Virginia. During his freshman season at JMU he averaged 10 ppg, good for second on the Dukes roster. This season he’s averaging close to 15 ppg and 5 rebounds. This is the one player that would have really been a fit on this current roster, but Banks wasn’t coming to Duquesne even if Ferry weren’t fired.
Duquesne’s recruiting has taken a dramatic uptick during the first two years of Keith Dambrot’s tenure. Last year was big man-centric while also picking up some very solid pieces at guard. Maceo Austin signing with Duquesne has solidified the Dukes as a team to be taken seriously in the A10. When you’re beating out the likes of VCU & Northwestern for a recruit you know there is significant progress being made.