By JOSH VERLIN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.– It’s tough to ignore an athletic 6-foot-6, 176-pound wing who can knock down the 3-pointer, and even tougher not to notice when that wing plays for Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony.
Though he’s mostly played on the junior varsity level up to this point, Markis McDuffie figures to be part of the next wave of high-level Division I players to come out of the New Jersey powerhouse.
“He’s a legit 6-7 wing player,” Sports U coach Brian Coleman told SNY.tv. “He’s a very good shooter. I think he’s going to be one of their main guys this year. He and Tarin Smith and Cheddi [Mosely] are going to be the main guys this year. He’s very good.”
Playing for Spots U, McDuffie played very well in front of a packed house on Sunday at the Philly Hoop Group Jam Fest. The sophomore impressed with 22 points in a semifinal win over Team Philly, his second consecutive 20-point game to start off the final day of the tournament. Sports U would go on to lose to Derrick Jones and We-R-1 in the final.
“It’s been great,” McDuffie said after the semifinal win. “My team went really hard this weekend after having a bad tournament last weekend, we didn’t come (out) the way we should have.”
Because he spent the majority of the 2012-13 season on JV, McDuffie’s name has only recently surfaced on the recruiting scene. Before the Philly Jam Fest, he said he was hearing from Bucknell, Holy Cross and Buffalo; by the end, he had added Fordham, Oregon State and Miami as schools that were interested.
“[Miami assistant] Mike Huber did call me yesterday,” Coleman said. “He talked to me about him.”
It’s clear that McDuffie doesn’t regret spending the last two seasons at the lower levels.
“I got so much better from freshman to sophomore year,” he said. “I became a better defensive player and my offense has been much better instead of just being a shooter. I’m looking for more to learn, I’ve got two more years there and Coach Hurley’s going to work with me.”
With his size, McDuffie is either a tall shooting guard or a collegiate wing; either way, he definitely needs to add some muscle to his frame. A solid shooter (“I love to shoot the ball”) with good rise and a quick release, he’s certainly got the size and athleticism to project to the high-major level. First, though, he’s got to adjust to the highest levels of high school basketball.
“I got moved up to varsity at the end (of the season), I played the 2, 3 and the 4,” he said. “It was kind of tough for me because I wasn’t really used to it, especially with a Hall of Fame coach. But I’m going to be ready next year.”
By getting to play on the varsity level near the end of the season, McDuffie was able to benefit from working with Temple-bound point guard Josh Brown, a fellow Sports U product who went from little-known prospect to high-major target in a span of months last year.
“It’s been great, he’s a great player,” McDuffie said. “I had a good time when I moved up to varsity, he taught me a lot so I can be ready for next year.”
Josh Verlin is the owner and founder of CityofBasketballLove.com, which covers Philadelphia-area high school and collegiate basketball.