By Joe Henricksen
Yes, it took some time to get the high-major coaches on board. In the end, though, that's where Deerfield's Duje Dukan, one of the top five ranked players in the Hoops Report's Class of 2010 rankings, is headed. The skilled 6-8 dead-eye shooter committed to Wisconsin and found the ideal fit at the Big Ten school.
"It certainly got a little frustrating," says Dukan of the mild high-major interest early on. "There really is nothing you can do about it, though, except work hard and go out and play your best. Thankfully there were some people who helped get my name out there and now I think I found the best fit possible."
As is the case sometimes, the City/Suburban Hoops Report does become a billboard for certain players. Typically it's those players that are vastly overlooked or being under-recruited that receive the gratuitous plug. That was the case with Dukan throughout the summer. Shouting from a mountain top, the Hoops Report called Dukan "the single most overlooked player in the class" and a "high-major player" to anyone who would listen and "in the right system could absolutely flourish." That all materialized for a kid who is just now beginning to evolve into the player he eventually will be. The key for Dukan was finding the right fit and system.
"I love the swing and I think it plays to my advantages as a player and showcases my strengths," says Dukan of the style Wisconsin plays. "Plus, I felt so comfortable with coach Ryan and the staff, and it's big to be able to play close to home where my family can see me play."
Now it's about being happy for the kid, who put in the time and made bigger strides in the last 12 months than any player in the Class of 2010. Dukan progressed nicely this offseason with Steve Pratt's Chicago Elite and was given responsibilities and was showcased in a variety of ways. Now he's committed to Wisconsin and is poised for a huge year for Deerfield.
While mid-majors coveted the skilled 6-8 wing, the high-majors remained hesitant. Coaches can question his foot speed and quickness all they want, but he clearly had a high-major skill: shooting the basketball. He is one of the best -- if not the best -- shooter in the state of Illinois. He can catch-and-shoot, shoot coming off screens or shoot off the dribble. And with his combination of size, length and release point, he's able to get shots off when he wants and with range. What people have missed, however, is just how skilled he is as he's an above-average ballhandler and passer with the ability to play multiple positions.
Dukan, who has great bloodlines as he's the son of former 14-year European professional star and current Chicago Bulls Supervisor of European Scouting Ivica Dukan, is starting to get stronger and, ultimately, will be able to use his size and post up a little.
While it's sometimes a cliché, Dukan has found the perfect fit in Wisconsin's swing offense, where it encourages guards to post up and forwards to shoot from the outside as players go to assigned spots but react to the defense. The offense needs players with patience, discipline, some size and efficient shooters, which Dukan offers. A lot of credit goes to Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore who was the front man in the Dukan recruiting.