PEORIA, Illinois (WMBD) – Bradley point guard Duke Deen might have the biggest smile on the team. And he’s needed to overcome several obstacles that led him to Peoria.
Deen is on his third college in as many years. The Shreveport, Louisiana native spent a year at Panola College, a JUCO school in East Texas less than 50 miles from his hometown. He then transferred to Troy University in Alabama where he earned Sun Belt Conference Freshmen of the Year accolades.
That performance led Brian Wardle to recruit him to Peoria to play for Bradley. All that moving hasn’t dampened his winning smile.
It hasn’t been too bad, me adjusting hasn’t been a problem just meeting new people is fun. I think I’m a friendly person.Duke Deen, Bradley Point Guard
Bradley star forward Rienk Mast says the team loves his infectious attitude: “[He’s] got a great personality. He’s always smiling and we’ve built our chemistry with him already.”
Still, the 5’8″, state championship-winning guard doubted himself when he received zero collegiate offers coming out of high school.
I had to go JUCO. I didn’t even want to go. But my dad said try it out for a year, see where it takes you. And if not you know you can always go to school and get your degree.Duke Deen, Bradley Point Guard
That one year has now turned into three. And Deen feels his overall game, particularly his defense, has grown substantially at Bradley under Coach Brian Wardle.
“If you had seen me at Troy last year, it would have been bad,” he said. “Like my defensive clips I couldn’t even move. You know defense [Coach Wardle], he stayed on me about my defense and that leads to offense. He prepares night in and night out. And then he passes that down to me. You know I’m the point guard, I got to keep everybody in line. ”