The Eagle-Tribune: 'Merrimack's Duncan Goes From High School Benchwarmer To College All-Star;
Merrimack's Duncan goes from high school
benchwarmer to college all-star
By Steve Palladino, Eagle Tribune Staff Writer
NORTH ANDOVER — Merrimack College's Darren Duncan has dished off a league-best 7.1 assists and scored 17.4 points per game this winter.
So the 5-10 guard must have been unstoppable in high school?
"I didn't start one game in high school. Not one game," said Duncan.
Of course, he didn't attend just any high school. He played at famed Christ the King High, a powerhouse in Queens, N.Y.
But Duncan was far from the team stud during his high school days.
"I played maybe 10 or 12 minutes a game, scored three or four points got maybe one or two assists (per game)," said Duncan. "I didn't have the chance to play as much as I would have liked to."
Playing time hasn't been a problem at Merrimack, which will face unbeaten Bentley in the NCAA Tourney on Saturday.
The All-Northeast-10 guard has started all 56 games in the last two years.
"He might have had a few looks (from recruiters) but when he came here he didn't have any offers," said Merrimack head coach Bert Hammel who landed last year's Northeast-10 Freshman of the Year very late in the recruiting game.
Assistant coach Joe Gallo first noticed him in April of 2006.
"We went to watch a high school game of unsigned seniors, in New York City," recalled Gallo. "I went there not knowing who he was and I left there loving him. Even after we saw him in the all-star game, we weren't sure how good he was. You can't tell much from an all-star game."
Playing with and against New York City talent allowed Duncan to keep his skills sharp, even though he wasn't playing on a regular basis in games.
"He played so much in New York," said Gallo. "Just going against those players in practice every day, we figured there had to be something there."
And there certainly was.
Duncan got his start on the basketball court at an early age and had a pretty talented opponent to play with on his court in the backyard — his brother Mitchell Beauford, a senior at Division 1 Stony Brook University (Long Island).
"We both hate to lose," said Duncan.
Merrimack was in desperate need for a point guard after Bobby Murgo graduated in the spring of 2006
"Whoever we bought in to play point guard would have to step in right away," said Gallo. "Once we saw him play, we knew that he would be our point guard."
The Duncan File
Name: Darren Duncan
Honors: All-NE-10 this winter; NE-10 Rookie of the Year last year.
2007-08 averages: 17.4 points (fifth in NE-10), 7.1 assists (seventh nationally)
Ironman: After not starting once in high school, has started all 56 games at Merrimack
Alma mater: At Christ the King High in Queens, he played behind St. John's freshman Malik Boothe and senior Erving Walker, who has signed with Florida. He also played with Drexel's Rob Hampton and Seton Hall's Larry Davis.