July 5, 2013 by Darian Nourian
By Darian Nourian
Galen Central will be doing a summer series profiling USC’s incoming basketball class, including transfers. Our next profile is on Kahlil Dukes, a freshman guard from Connecticut. Read earlier profiles on: Nikola Jovanovic, Julian Jacobs, Pe’Shon Howard, Katin Reinhardt, and Darion Clark.
It was last July that three-star guard Kahlil Dukes committed to USC out of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Since Dukes signed, a lot has changed about the USC basketball program with the firing of head coach Kevin O’Neill, whom recruited Dukes, and the hiring of Andy Enfield via Florida Gulf Coast; however, this change has not shortened Dukes’s excitement to put on a Trojan uniform and play alongside his fellow incoming class.
“I think my teammates and I fit really well into coach Enfield’s system, and our success is really going to come down to how hard we work,” Dukes said. “We were all excited about it when we heard of the hire and couldn’t wait to start working under his direction.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Dukes is one of four incoming freshman (Jacobs, Prince, and Jovanovic) who kept their commitment to USC after O’Neill was shown the door, and he is very excited to play in Enfield’s high-tempo, up-and-down system. Dukes hopes to bring “Dunk City” to the Galen Center next fall with his stellar guard play, whether it is as at the 1 or the 2.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes for us to win”, he said. “If coach Enfield needs me to distribute and play off the ball so I can help J.T and Byron get open shots, then that’s what I will do at the point. If some of our guys are off and we need someone to score and I’m not necessarily on the scouting report yet, then I will do what I can do as a 2.”
He is, unquestionably, a gifted scorer that can do just about anything to get his own shot and score, whether it is taking a jump shot off the dribble, pulling up from long range, or penetrating the lane and finishing at the rim.
After averaging almost 24 points a game in his senior season at Capital Prep, Dukes has shown the USC coaching staff that he has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. However, there are parts in his game where he thinks he still needs improvement on in order to be successful at the next level.
“I need to work on my pick and roll defense, working around screens, and also need to increase my defensive aggressiveness,” Dukes said. “I [also] need to work on my post-entry passes and just do what I can to become a better overall all-around player.”
Dukes thinks that his class, along with the core group of players returning from last year’s team, will be able to excel with the fast-paced style of play. While he is most likely not going to be the one on the receiving end of those explosive alley-oops made famous while Enfield was at Florida Gulf Coast, Dukes thinks that he, as well as fellow incoming freshman Julian Jacobs are going to be able to thrive as facilitators.
“I have no problem with a half-court offense, but I like to run and get in the open court, and so does Julian, who I would also consider as an up-tempo player,” said Dukes.
The class of 2013 has already started to workout together, according to Dukes, who arrived at USC on June 16 to begin unofficial workouts, as well as to take summer courses. With this, the incoming class has already began to get close and form team chemistry in preparation for the fall. For Dukes, he and Jacobs had already formed a friendship prior to coming to campus, and together, they give the Trojans added depth at the guard position.
“We’re all a big family right now and we all really connect,” he said. “We are already working out and getting in the gym together every day.”
With two full-time starters returning in J.T Terrell and Byron Wesley, and the return of 7’2 Omar Oraby, Dukes is very optimistic about next season and he is just as excited to start his academic endeavors at USC as a cinematic arts major.
In fact, Dukes has a lot of interest in the field of cinema since high school, and this is exemplified by his senior social justice project, which was titled: The 1st Annual Kahlil Dukes Basketball Academy: The Documentary. In the short film, which can be seen below, Dukes helps four freshman get a head start on getting to the collegiate basketball level by making sure they excel in school, get the proper training, make good relationships with coaches, keep a good attitude, and stay on the right path, etc.
“This was something that I was really passionate about being the only one in my area to go on to play Division 1 basketball and overall, the project was very successful”, said Dukes. “I really want to learn more about everything to do with movies and that’s what sparks my interest in the field.”
Coach Enfield continues to reinforce to his players that they not only get better as basketball players every day, but also continue to get things done off the court, academically and in the campus community. Dukes personifies his new coach’s philosophy perfectly with his accomplishments on and off the court and will continue to make a great fit with his “work hard” mentality and strong work ethic in whatever he is doing.
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