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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Persistence through adversity

Persistence+through+adversity

Senior Duane Goodman Jr during Knox’s March 13 games against Illinois College (Robert Nguyen / TKS)

Senior Duane Goodman Jr during Knox’s March 13 games against Illinois College (Robert Nguyen / TKS)

There were 5.3 seconds left on the clock when freshman Cade Windham corralled the rebound for Knox. He dribbled the ball and then advanced the ball up the court to senior Duane Goodman Jr. Goodman dribbled with his left hand and stepped into a transition three from the left wing. The ball hit the front of the rim as the game clock buzzed, bounced up and softly fell through the net as Goodman held the follow through.

As he headed to the locker room Goodman let his emotions out, screaming and bumping with teammates.

“Even though I missed a couple of shots, I wasn’t mad because I was like, ‘you know what? I work out. I work out, I can do this.’ So when Cade had the ball, he brought the ball up and when I called for it, I knew what spot to get to,” Goodman says.

“When I got there, I just knew it was going in because I shoot this shot all the time. That’s the  first time I trusted my shot, you know, first time I’m trusting my ability.” 

The Knox senior was having fun with basketball again and showing a new-found confidence. It was a journey for Goodman to get to this point. 

Goodman’s basketball life started in Charlotte, NC. He was actually born in Chicago, but moved at a young age to North Carolina. Goodman did a little bit of everything growing up, from track, football, to basketball. His parents made sure that he, his brother and his sister were always involved in something active. 

What drew him to basketball was the individuality of it, despite it being a team sport. In football, you often need others to help improve your game. A wide receiver needs a quarterback to throw to them and a quarterback needs a wide receiver to catch for them. In basketball, you just need a ball and yourself. 

“Basketball is really independent. And I think that’s who I am; I’m just an independent person who just wants to grind and, you know, and I want to see results,” Goodman says.   

“So therefore I kind of gravitated to basketball because you could work on it by yourself in a way, you know?”

Despite his love for the sport, basketball did not come easy for Goodman. He was cut from the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth grade teams. During his junior season of high school, Goodman finally got his shot to play at Queens Grant High School. 

Queens Grant is a charter school located in Mint Hill, North Carolina. The school holds approximately 430 students and is classified as a 1A school, meaning it is one of the smallest in North Carolina. Goodman left Queens Grant and reclassified after his junior year to do another season as a junior and senior year which he spent at Charlotte United Christian Academy. He understood he did not have much experience playing basketball and needed another year to develop to play at the collegiate level. 

After high school. Goodman traveled to Florida to attend Florida Memorial University where he was just a regular student. He tried to walk-on but was cut. He had a decision to make; give up basketball or keep persevering. He chose to keep pursuing his dream which led him to a stop at Combine Basketball Academy. 

Combine was huge for Goodman’s development and created a work ethic that he still maintains to this day. Combine is a New Balance-sponsored school that has “over 500+ college commitments since 2012,” according to the school’s website. The school’s committed to getting athletes to the collegiate level. 

“I think at Combine where you’re doing online classes, but you’re doing mostly basketball throughout the whole day. So that’s why I started doing my four workouts a day [at Combine] because it’s just basketball and, I think that’s why a lot,” Goodman said. 

The 6-1, Carolina native was going to return to his Chicago roots and attend Chicago State before some money and scholarship issues arose. This was another fork in the road that required a decision from Goodman. Could he keep trying at the D-I level or could he attend a school where he could play? 

After his post-grad season, Goodman would play basketball at Green Mountain College in Vermont for his freshman and sophomore seasons due in large part to Coach Ben Davis’ persistence in recruiting him. Green Mountain College is a far cry from North Carolina. Just 1.4 percent of residents in Vermont and Black compared to 22.2 percent in North Carolina according to census.gov.

Green Mountain’s enrollment at the time of their closing was just 430. In 2011, the enrollment numbers were slightly higher at 646 students making the liberal art’s school’s enrollment slightly larger than your average high school (526 students per school)

Attending the school proved to be an adjustment for Goodman, but its small nature proved to be what he needed. 

“It really would be a really small school with 600 people and not a lot going on over there. The closest Walmart was 30 minutes away, you know? When you think of college, you think you want to have fun, party, see a lot of people, but you know, Green Mountain college, you see the same faces every single day,” Goodman says. 

“For me it wasn’t a problem just because I wanted to make it to the NBA, from a non-D1 school, so I knew I couldn’t really have a lot of distractions. So, you know, my fun was the gym.”

At Green Mountain, Goodman averaged 10 points per game as a freshman and 11.6 as a sophomore. He also started in 46 out of 51 games. 

Goodman had finally found a place where he could call his own. He wasn’t a nomad any longer… then Green Mountain College shut down. It was devastating to Goodman but he tried everything he could to keep the school open. After bouncing around from school to school, he had found a place to call home. 

“It was really just disheartening and, and sad for me because I was trying to do so much for the school. I was meeting with the dean to work on getting more people to come to the school. I  made a basketball Instagram page for us to get more recruits in. I loved Green Mountain. It was like my last chance for my dream,” Goodman said. 

After the doors closed on Green Mountain College, coach Davis helped Goodman get interest and offers at the D-II level before committing to Minot State. Minot State was the low point for Goodman. 

At the start of the season, the ball was out of his hands. He was playing more off-ball, reacting to what other players did on the court. His stats dropped as a result. Goodman averaged 2.9 points in 18.8 minutes per game, a significant decrease from his Green Mountain production. This was a far cry from the point guard role he had been accustomed to. Playing in a reduced role had an affect on Goodman’s most important attribute. His energy was predicated off of his offense. His happiness was predicated off of basketball— which was not going well. Goodman was suffering in solitude out in North Dakota. It was at this point that the then-junior guard realized he needed to make a shift. 

Knox senior guard Duane Goodman was at his lowest during his stint at Minot State. Depressed, away from home, he was struggling to find purpose. His escape was becoming the very thing causing his depression. He worked out four times a day, day in and day out just to see his minutes constantly decrease until the coach told him that he would not play him anymore. The North Carolina native has always known about work. What do you do when your work is not enough? 

It was during these times that Goodman Jr. relied on his faith. The senior guard always knew God and was a believer. When things went south in his life, he would fall back on the Lord. But this time was different. Goodman could not outwork his benching. He was so singularly focused on making the NBA, that the pressure started to affect his well-being.

“That was the first time I actually had to like, my life was out of my control. I think that’s what really brought me to God even closer,” Goodman Jr. says. 

Goodman leaned into his faith, like many, at his lowest. He was of the belief that he could take care of any situation in his life. 

“I’m somebody who always wants to work hard and I’m very self-reliant and I didn’t want anybody else’s help. I think God broke me down and humbled me saying like, you know, in life you can’t do things alone,” Goodman Jr. said. 

“I relied on the fact that I was focused and then God took it away. You know, he took it away real quick and he was just like, ‘all right, are you gonna come to me’?” 

Duane Goodman Jr. had reached a crossroads in his basketball life. After starting his first two seasons at Green Mountain College and then transferring to Minot College, he was looking for another school. His basketball journey has taken him from his home state of North Carolina, to Florida, to Vermont and North Dakota. One constant along his journey was his coach at Green Mountain—and now at Knox College—Ben Davis. He knew that Coach Davis had his best interests at heart and trusted him. That trust was so deep that Goodman did not do a tour about Knox College: he relied on the rapport built between him and Coach Davis. 

The trials and tribulations that Goodman endured at Minot State helped make him the person that he has become today. Goodman says that he believes God’s purpose for him is to bring energy to others and inspire others. Goodman has acted on that belief over the last year, using himself as a vessel to help uplift others has had an effect at Knox.

Cade Windham is a freshman from Oceanside, California. Windham gauged the type of person Duane was after the first encounter. 

“I was just hyped to get to play with him because I could tell he was going to bring energy. Like you could already tell what type of person he was the first time, first day I met him full of energy, gonna pick you up when you’re down,” Windham said. 

Coach Davis has coached Goodman for three out of his four collegiate seasons, he knows better than anyone at Knox about how compelling Goodman’s zest is to this team and any team for that matter. 

“I got to coach [Duane] his freshman, sophomore, and now senior year. So it’s great. He has energy all the time and it’s all positive. You don’t have to wonder, who’s gonna show up that day. He has consistent, positive energy, you know, and it helps our team in a lot of ways, obviously on the court. I think he, when he brings that type of energy, it’s hard for his team to have a bad practice. When they have a guy that’s just always bringing it in baking, making you feel like you gotta, you gotta do the same,” Davis says. 

Goodman’s energy is not exclusive to the basketball court. The Knox senior created an inspirational Instagram page, hosts a weekly bible study and always has a grin on his face. Whether you have known him for five years or five minutes, he makes you feel important. The bible studies and church services that Goodman holds are also events that connect with Windham. 

“The pastors are usually older, so it’s good to get a different point of view from someone who’s younger and knows the things we go through daily,” Windham said. 

Goodman is still focused on his NBA dream. He still works out four times a day. He still deals with the stress of it all. However, he does not let results bother him as much. Goodman still cares about his and the team’s performance, but he does not let it affect his mood to the degree it did at Minot state. He’s focused on controlling what he can control and leaving the rest in God’s hands. 

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