PROVIDENCE — What the Providence College Friars lost this spring could very well be a NBA team’s gain Thursday night.
Shooting guard David Duke Jr. passes the eye test: He’s 6′5″ and averages nearly 20 points a game. He plays consistently, and said recently that he’s hoping to make it to Boston to play under Coach Udoka.
He did not get drafted Thursday night, but announced on social media early Friday morning that he signed as a free agent with the Brooklyn Nets.
BROOKLYNNNNN ⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️— David Duke Jr (@daviddukejr) July 30, 2021
The next step: Playing in the NBA Summer League, which takes place Aug. 8-17 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“It was a night where I had all my friends and family around you know, surrounded by love, and honestly it was just a great time to be able to be all under one roof with good food, good music, enjoying each other’s presence just waiting for whatever outcome to happen,” Duke Jr. told the Globe. “Going into the NBA Draft I was just excited; excited to get to the next level and compete and show what I have.”
After the 60-player draft ended, Duke Jr. announced a deal with the Nets, but later said he received offers from two NBA teams.
“Well, right now, honestly, I had one situation but in my agent just called me and he said I might have an even better deal,” Duke Jr. said. “So it’s kind of up in the air now. I don’t have anything specific yet.”
Here’s a little more about the Providence native with his eye on the NBA.
1. He’s a Providence native
Duke, 21, grew up in Providence with his siblings, Sean, 20, (who currently attends Manhattan College), and Jordan 14.
He attended public magnet Classical High School in Providence, which is where he first started to focus on basketball. By his sophomore year, he made the school’s varsity team and by his junior year, he was averaging 15 points a game. He helped lead the team to the state’s Division I championship in 2016.
2. He reclassed in his junior year of high school
No, not for academic reasons. After playing for three seasons at Classical, he transferred to Cushing Academy, a private boarding school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, where he would play in one of the nation’s best leagues for that age group — the New England Prep Schools Athletic Council, or NEPSAC. He reclassified as a junior, and averaged 16 points a game.
At Cushing, he helped the Penguins win a NEPSAC Class AA title.
He went on to average 17 points each game and helped lead the team to the NEPSAC Class AA semifinals during his postgrad year.
3. He said he always dreamed of playing for the Providence College Friars
In a video posted on his Twitter in early April, Duke said he had decided to declare for the 2021 NBA draft. In that same video, he paid homage to his hometown, and to the team he’d be leaving after being drafted.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to play in my hometown these past three years,” he said of Providence College. “I dreamed about putting on a Friars jersey growing up. There is nothing like going to battle at the Dunk in front of the best fans in the country.”
4. He started out playing rec hoops at Zuccolo Recreation Center
In an October 2020 tweet, Duke shared a picture of his Providence hoop star beginnings at the Zuccolo Recreation Center. Now he plays at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Maybe, the T.D. Garden is next?
Duke said he is proud of his PVD roots.
During the season, he used his platform as one of the Friar’s top players to raise $14,383 for Crossroads RI, a leading provider of housing and services to those experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. The Friartown fans blew away his $5,000 goal on GoFundMe.
The project got started in his Organizational Theory class at Providence College, where students were tasked with raising a minimum of $5,000 for a local charity, the fund-raiser states.
“It tells you about his foundation. He’s a humble kid,” his father, David Duke Sr., told the Globe. “He had one of his best games and he used the platform to try to raise $5,000 for the Crossroads RI shelter in Rhode Island. He loves this city. He grew up here.”
5. His parents escaped from the civil war in Liberia
David Duke Sr., his mother, and his high school sweetheart – now his wife – Sharon, left Liberia by road until they reached the Ivory Coast as refugees. They brought nothing with them.
In the Ivory Coast, they joined a program that brought Duke Sr. and his mother to New York; Sharon came to Rhode Island. They kept in communication; Duke Sr. bought a car and visited her every weekend. But since she didn’t like New York, Rhode Island became home.
“So I graduated from City College in New York and moved down here and that was it,” Duke Sr. said.