Devin Duncan developed his basketball survival skills at an early age. He didn’t have much choice.

“I’ve always been the smallest guy on the team,” he said. “I wanted to keep up with the bigger guys.”

At 5-foot-7 and 135 pounds, the Erskine Academy senior is still usually the smallest player on the floor, but that hasn’t limited his success. He was recently chosen to play in the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star game for the East A/B team, an honor that took him by surprise.

“I was definitely not expecting it,” he said. “I feel very honored.”

As the only returning starter from a team that qualified for the Eastern Maine Class A tournament his junior year, Duncan expected a rough season. It was, as the Eagles finished 2-16 in their final season before dropping to Class B.

The season was broken in two halves for Duncan. During the first half, he averaged nearly 20 points a game, including a high of 28 against a strong Edward Little team. An excellent ballhandler, Duncan would penetrate and pull up for a jump shot or drive past his defender and dish the ball to a teammate. He finished third in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in made 3-pointers this season with 40.

“Devin has a rock solid belief in himself,” Erskine coach Ben Willoughby said.  “He has a scorer’s confidence.”

When teams discovered he was the primary scoring threat, they played him differently the second time around.

“It was very frustrating,” he said. “I’d have two or three guys on me each time I touched the ball. I didn’t take many shots for four or five games in a row.”

While Duncan’s scoring production went down, some of his teammates improved, notably 6-6 center Caleb McGuire.

“The second half of the season, McGuire  got more looks,” Willoughby said. “Sometimes we had mismatches because of what teams were trying to do against Devin.”

Willoughby said Duncan has a thorough understanding of the game and what the coaches were trying to accomplish. This helped him make smart decisions when he drew extra attention. He was an improved player despite the fact his scoring went down slightly from last season.

“He’s stronger than last year,” Willoughby said. “He played almost every minute of every game. We just had less offensive weapons than we did last year.”

Statistically, Duncan was Erskine’s most productive player. He averaged 13.2 points a game, was third in the conference in steals at 2.9 per game and finished third on the team in rebounding, averaging five a game. After eight seniors graduated his junior year, Duncan and his teammates expected their record to suffer.

“We didn’t feel sorry ourselves,” he said. “We won one game my freshman year and two my sophomore year. Our junior year we knew we were going to be pretty good and wanted to make it to the (Augusta) Civic Center.”

Duncan is looking an engineering programs at the University of Maine and University of Southern Maine for next year. He realizes Saturday could be the last time he wears a school uniform.

“I have thought about it a lot,” he said. “It’s sad because basketball’s been my life. Not putting the uniform on and going out and playing again, it’s weird.”

Maranacook’s Kyle Boucher will play with Duncan on the A/B East team while Cony’s Josie Lee will play on the A/B East girls team. Hall-Dale’s Natasha Brown and Richmond’s Jamie Plummer are playing on the C/D West girls team.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
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