St. James junior Caleb Duggan falls in the latter category.
Although not blessed with the height of most blue-chip hoops recruits, Duggan has more than made up the difference with hard work and determination. The 5-foot-11 guard, a self-proclaimed gym rat, is averaging more than 21 points per game for the Sharks this season.
“My dad was a coach when I was a kid so I was always in the gym,” Duggan said of father and former Socastee football coach Steve Duggan. “I’ve played other sports, but I’ve always loved basketball. If I’m not sleeping, I’m in the gym.”
That’s right where St. James coach Sylvester Carr wants him. Duggan averaged 24 points last week in leading the Sharks to a 3-0 start in Region VIII-AAA play, then racked up more than 15,000 votes to earn Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week honors. According to Carr, he earned them all through his dedication.
“Caleb loves the game of basketball,” Carr said. “His passion for the game allows him to want to win every game he plays in.”
Duggan bring that attitude to his teammates after participating in several sports as a child. Last year he made the difficult decision to give up football and baseball to focus all his efforts on basketball.
“Basketball has always been my favorite and it’s also probably my best shot (at playing on the college level),” he said. “It’s almost year-round now. As soon as this season ends I start playing with my AAU team, then I was missing some baseball games for AAU tournaments.”
Playing with the Carolina Elite out of Raleigh, Duggan’s game has improved dramatically while traveling across the country to compete in national tournaments. He brought those skills back to the Sharks.
“With this being his third year on varsity, he has matured as a person and a basketball player,” Carr said. “And if he continues to improve on the court and in the classroom, nothing can stop him from accomplishing any of his goals.”
While Duggan hopes to play at the college level someday, his focus is on the present over the future. He has team goals to accomplish with the Sharks before he starts making his college plans.
“I would love to be able to play at the next level, but right now I’m more focused on helping us reach our team goals,” he said. “That’s to win the region, make the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs.”
For the Sharks to advance beyond the second round of the Class AAA playoffs, which they did last season, it will likely rest on Duggan’s shoulders. He may be lower to the ground than other stars in the state and region, but his game is reaching new heights.
“Once I realized that I am always going to be the shortest player, it made me work harder to get better,” Duggan said. “It’s not all about who’s the tallest, but who’s the quickest, who’s the best shooter, who’s the best defender? It’s made me worked hard to have an all-around game.”
- Photo by Rancier Photography