If you don’t know who Chris Duarte is, just know that he is the 2018-2019 NJCAA Division 1 National Player of the Year and he is headed to Eugene next fall to play under Dana Altman. Chris is a 6’6” guard from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. You would think only baseball players come from the Dominican but Chris choose to go a different route and I would say it has panned out really well for him.
Take a bow, @chrisduarte08— NWF Raiders (@NWF_Raiders) April 11, 2019
Duarte has been named the @NJCAABasketball Division I Spalding® Player of the Year after an impressive sophomore campaign.
He’s only the second Raider in program history to earn this honor
READ MORE >>> https://t.co/c4opYCZHJJ pic.twitter.com/pCqMIbpvOb
Duarte played at Northwest Florida State College where he averaged 19.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, and shot 54.1% from the field in his sophomore season. He also shot 40.0% from beyond the arc. He is joining CJ Walker, Isaac Johnson, and Chandler Lawson in the stacked 2019 Oregon recruiting class.
Although Chris’ English isn’t the best, I had a wonderful conversation with him about his basketball career and his future with the Oregon program.
Arden Cravalho: Chris, can you give a bit of a look into your basketball background starting with high school?
Chris Duarte: I came to America in 2015 and played two years of high school ball in Northfield, Massachusetts at Redemption Christian Academy. After that, I moved to Florida and played for the Raiders of Northwest Florida State.
AC: Can you describe your style of play for the Oregon community?
CD: I’m a combo guard that can play the 1, 2, and 3. I’m more of an offensive player and I hope to improve my defensive playmaking while I’m in Eugene. I know Coach Altman will help work on that with me.
AC: How much does it mean to you to be recognized as the best junior college basketball player in the nation?
CD: It means a lot. I was talking with my Dad before the season started and I told him I wanted to be the best player in all of junior college. I also told him I wanted to win the conference, state, and national championship. Everything went well with that except we came up short on winning the national championship.
AC: What advice would you give a young basketball player who is thinking about continuing their athletic career on the junior college level?
CD: I was sad at first that I had to go with the junior college route. I was mad that I was giving up two years on my life to go play basketball at a junior college in Florida. My family and friends convinced me it would the best option for me if I wanted to end up playing the highest level of professional basketball I could.
I would tell those young men who are thinking about going to junior college that it’s a great opportunity. You will improve your game a lot. Colleges at the next level will get a chance to look at you and it could lead to something bigger.
AC: What was your reason for choosing Oregon as the next step in your journey?
CD: I had a lot of great schools looking at me like Kansas, Oklahoma, Houston, VCU, Illinois. I chose Oregon because of the coaching staff and the school’s history. When I visited Eugene for the first time, I loved everything about it. The coaches, players, and fans made me feel welcomed.
AC: Oregon made a Cinderella run in March Madness into the Sweet 16 and I’m sure you were watching it with a smile on your face. What did you think about the postseason run the Ducks made?
CD: I told Coach Altman that you have to be proud of how your team played. No one thought they were going to be there and play that far into the tournament. After all the early struggles and injuries, they still competed hard and played for each other. I really like that about Oregon.
After they lost to Virginia in the Sweet 16, I almost cried. That was a good game and they were so close to getting that win.
AC: What are your thoughts on the upcoming recruiting class? Does this team have enough talent to make a push in March Madness next season?
CD: We are going to help next year’s team a lot. I’ve only talked to CJ (Walker) and we are both excited to get started. I think we’ve got a lot of talent that can go far in March.
AC: What are your goals that you want to have accomplished during your stay in Eugene?
CD: My personal goal is to stay there for one year and move onto a professional career. I’m still going to give it my all and try to win a national championship for Oregon. Not many people know who I am right now but they will find out soon enough.
I wish Chris the best of luck as he prepares for his first season with the Oregon Ducks. He should fit right in with Dana Altman’s game plan.
*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho