Nov. 18, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- With basketball season just getting underway, UWBadgers.com checked in with the team's four freshmen to get a little insight into their personalities and what they bring to the Badgers.
Today, we visit with Duje Dukan (pronounced: DOO-yay DOOK-in), a 6-foot-8 forward from Deerfield, Ill.
TV: Any of the CSI’s, 24
Movies: Rush Hour, Blue Streak, The Dark Knight
Music: Anything, mostly hip-hop/rap
Why did you choose Wisconsin?
“I felt like Wisconsin provided the best balance for school and athletics. I felt that Coach Ryan would definitely be able to best put my skillset and playing ability to good use. I just thought that playing in the Big Ten and coming to a school like Wisconsin was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
What was your official visit like?
“I took an unofficial right before I committed because I had used up all of my official. I went to lunch with Coach Ryan and shared the visit with Ben Brust. Other than that, I just got to know the guys. We hung out, saw a movie.”
How did you get to know your fellow freshmen?
“We bonded over the summer. We always ate meals together because we lived in the Lakeshore dorms are which was far away from everybody else. We just spent a lot of time getting used to each other and learning each others personalities. It’s a great group and we all like each other a lot.”
What is your best basketball memory?
“It had to be my senior year of high school. We were 12-15 during my junior year and then we went 25-4 when I was a senior. We won a regional title and made it to the sectional semi-finals. It was an incredible year. We probably had about 50 to 100 people in the stands during my junior year, and then we had three or four games sold out when I was a senior.”
What’s the strongest part of your game?
“Probably versatility. I can play with big guys because of my size, but can also shoot from outside.”
What do you most want to work on?
“My strength and lifting weights more. I need to get ready for the physicality of the Big Ten.”
What’s your go-to- shot in H-O-R-S-E?
“Probably a lefty free-throw or a shot from behind the basket over the top of the backboard.”
How often to get back to the country you were born in, Croatia?
“We go every summer. We would go for two to three months at a time when I was younger, but as I got older and more involved with AAU basketball and school we had less and less time. Last year we went for a total of three weeks. My family feels like it is a necessity to go back every year. It’s just great for relaxation and a way to get away from everything. It’s a great chance to swim and train at the same time.”
Do you have any good stories from hanging around your dad, who works for Bulls?
“Definitely the 1997 NBA Finals after we won it at home. I remember we were in the locker room and my dad was holding the trophy. Scottie Pippen came up to us and started pouring champagne on us. I got so mad because I didn’t have a change of clothes. It was great, though, just being able to celebrate it with all those guys. Being a part of it was unbelievable.”
“Another great memory was the Shaquille O’Neal-Charles Oakley fight. At the time, I was ball boy. I was sitting down on the floor, and I was turned around because one of the players was asking me something. When I turned back to the floor, Shaq and Oakley fell on me. I started freaking out because I had two guys, one a 300-pounder, on my legs. What was I going to do? Finally, Oakley got up in a push-up position on top of Shaq, and he swore him out. The coach picked me up, put me on the table and then they just went at it again.”
“Another funny story happened during a Celtics game when I, again, was a ball boy. I wasn’t paying attention, and the referee was coming back. My feet were straight out and the referee backs up into me, and I just lean back. My foot was inside, and it ended up tripping him and he fell. The referee fell flat on his face and the whole crowd started laughing. He gets up, starts running down the court. And I look back on ESPN that night, and they showed the highlight of me tripping him. So it was funny.”
Were you late on the recruiting scene?
“Yeah, I was kind of considered late bloomer and late to be noticed. I didn’t really get noticed until October of my senior year. Originally, I was just getting invites from mid-major schools. Taking a couple of visits and having a good AAU season helped a lot. Then the bigger schools started noticing me. I wasn’t the strongest guy, but my senior year was my best year and I put on some muscle on during AAU season.”