Transferring schools is never easy, especially for college athletes, which to them means having to continue studies while adjusting to a new court or field.
Deris Duncan, senior guard, is an Indiana native who has played basketball since the age of 9. Although he has played basketball ever since he stepped onto a court, he was more serious about football for most of his high school career.
However, an injury to his ankle during his junior year of high school left him realizing that basketball was truly the sport he was meant to play.
While Duncan had been heavily recruited for football right out of high school, he decided to attend Weatherford College-a junior college. After his two years at Weatherford, Duncan knew he wanted to continue to grow in basketball and play at a higher level.
“I came on my visit and really enjoyed it,” Duncan said. “I liked the campus and the area. I had some Division II schools interested, but Texas State was my only Division I offer at the time.”
Although Duncan always knew he wanted to play basketball at the Division I level some day, the transition from a junior college was not as easy as he hoped for.
“Weatherford was more condensed and everybody knew each other,” Duncan said. “Here at Texas State, you’re kind of on your own. The transition was tough. There was a lot more free time at Weatherford than here. You really have to stay focused.”
Staying focused is exactly what Duncan did as he started acclimating toward the basketball program at Texas State. His first season as a Bobcat proved that his dedication to growing as a player was worth it while he played in 21 games in the 2016-17 season.
“It was surreal,” Duncan said. “Growing up the dream is to play Division I, and it was just different. I really had to adjust and it took me a while, to be honest.”
Adjusting to the college level was something Duncan did not accomplish all on his own. His coaches and teammates were there with him every step of the way going through repetitions with him.
“Now this year I’m a lot more confident with what the coach wants and what the team expectations are,” Duncan said. “The experience going through it made me more confident. Going through dozens and dozens of practices and being corrected by coaches and being out there on the floor learning as you go.”
Duncan’s confidence not only made him better as a player, but it also helped him earn the honor of being named into the 2016-17 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court. The NABC recognized student-athletes who excel in their academic studies.
“That meant a lot,” Duncan said. “Growing up, my mom was always on me about grades and it meant a lot that I could make them proud and take advantage of the scholarship that I received and make use of it.”
As a psychology major, doing well in school was never an option for Duncan, but a necessity.
Striving in the classroom and on the court at the same time allowed Duncan to finish the 2016-17 school year with a cumulative 3.92 GPA. His high GPA earned him another honor, The Oak Farms Dairy “Cream of the Crop” recipient.
“When it’s time for basketball, I put it all in basketball,” Duncan said. “When it’s time for school work, I make sure I do my best in that area.”
Along with a couple of collegiate athletic honors on his resume, his time at Texas State has been irreplaceable.
“My favorite part about playing basketball at Texas State is just being able to learn more about the game and building relationships with the players and the coaches and reaching a common goal with them,” Duncan said. “You kind of become family. At first, I had to learn, but I got used to it with time and grew really close with them.”
The 2017-18 season is quickly approaching, and Duncan has big plans for making this season his best one yet.
“I’m looking forward most to topping what we did last year,” Duncan said. “I think last year was a great milestone for the program, and I want to do the same and more with this group of guys.”
Duncan is a senior so the upcoming season will be his last, he wants to end his college basketball career being a role model for those to come.
“I want to say I gave my best, I learned my best and I was able to be the best teammate that I can be,” Duncan said. “Leading by example and helping the younger guys coming up with problems that I might have faced last year.”