Ernie Duncan is a former University of Vermont guard. He was born in Los Angeles, California and began his basketball career at William Henry Harrison high school in Indiana.. He was a 4 time IBCA All-State and averaged 20/4/6 in his career and is the all-time leader in scoring passing ex NBA players Calbert Cheaney and Walter McCarty) and in assists and games played. At Vermont he had a stellar 4 year career averaging in double figures in scoring average in 3 of 4 years and won the AEC title twice. He played a season with new MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg guard Ben Shungu (188-PG-1997, college: Vermont). He spoke to germanhoops.com about his career and Ben Shungu. Please check out his website at http://www.ernieduncanhoops.com
Thanks Ernie for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
I am currently living in Vermont. I’m a skills development coach and run my own business here in the Northeast. Basketball life is treating me very well as I get to work with athletes of all ages every day.
You played at the University of Vermont from 2015-2019. You had decent stats and could of played professionally. Was that an option for you then?
I had options to go overseas but didn’t heavily pursue it. I found a chance to start my own business that I would love right after my college career was done and felt that I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
I read that in high school you passed former NBA players Calbert Cheaney and Walter Mccarty in scoring. Isn’t that pretty mind boggling. Does that sometimes make you wonder how you could of faired as a professional player?
I do sometimes wonder how I could have fared as a pro. I had a very successful career at Vermont and know that could have had a long career as a pro if I wanted it. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish at UVM and felt that it was time to move onto a different chapter of my life.
How are you keeping busy today and is basketball still in your life?
Basketball is my full time job. As I mentioned I run Ernie Duncan Hoops in the Northeast and train kids of all ages. I’m very blessed to be able to have the job that I do as it feels that I don’t really work a day in my life. I train 2nd graders all the way up to pros. I’m actually training Trae Bell-Haynes all next week here in Vermont and have done some private work with Ben as well. So basketball fills up my daily schedule!
You won 2 AEC titles in 2017 and 2019. Which one was sweeter?
I would say the 2019 title was sweeter. I went through a lot of adversity heading into that season so the feelings of winning that 2019 championship were off the charts. I then had the chance to play with my two brothers at the NCAA Tournament stage which was something that felt like it was out of a movie. All in all, both titles were dream experiences!
You played 2 seasons with Ben Shungu. What memories do you have of him as a teammate? He played little minutes then and didn’t have a big role?
I actually spent three seasons with Ben. I didn’t play with him until my senior year. He was an incredibly hard worker the day he stepped on campus. Always had an underdog mentality that continues to drive his game. My senior year he stepped into a big role at the end of the season. He became our starting point guard and really set the tone for us on the defensive side of the ball and really orchestrated our offense at a high level. A great locker room guy that I enjoyed spending time with.
He kept developing and really broke out as a senior. How much credit does a guy like John Becker get for how he turned out as a player?
Coach Becker and the staff get a ton of credit. They are really good at developing players and getting the most out of them. The unseen hours that are spent in the offseason to help the athlete is where the growth is. During the season they do an excellent job of putting the player in the right spots to succeed. If you put the time in as a player, the coaches will put you in the right spots.
Talk a little about Ben’s strengths. What does he do best on the offensive end and defensive end?
Ben plays both sides of the ball really well. Offensively he has really grown as a shooter. When he came to UVM he really couldn’t shoot very well. He now is a respectable shooter and someone you have to be aware of. He is an elite driver and finisher at the rim. He’s very strong and uses that to his advantage to get by defenders and to hold them off at the rim. The best part of his game may be his defense. He again uses his strength very well on that side of the ball and causes a lot of disruption as an on ball defender. A very smart player on both sides of the ball.
Have you followed his career a bit since you left school? He will play in the same league that Trae Bell-Haynes did. Do you feel like he will be able to meet the challenge?
With still living in Vermont I have watched just about every one of Ben’s games since graduating. He will do very well in that league. He’s an all around player that is also a fantastic teammate. No doubt in my mind, he will thrive in that league and will have a long career as a professional.
You played together with Trae Bell-Haynes at his peak in the NCAA and Ben Shungu when he was still young. Compare them a bit. Bell-Haynes is so quick and Shungu has 12 kilo’s on him. Could Shungu be the next Bell-Haynes in terms of having mega success as a professional?
I think Ben has the potential to follow in Trae’s footsteps. Both are similar in so many ways so they are very hard to compare. Both are elite finishers at the rim, solid shooters, great teammates. I would say Ben doesn’t have Trae’s speed and agility but Ben has the strength and size advantage on Trae.
What is the fondest memory that you had with Ben Shungu? Maybe you have a story off the court that shows what kind of guy he was?
Ben is one of the nicest dudes around. If I ever needed help he would extend a hand. I would say the fondest memory is just the countless hours we have spent together off the court sharing laughs. We have some inside jokes that we always greet each other with every time we see one another and it’s always a fun time.
Thanks Ernie for the chat. For more information about Ernie please check out ernieduncanhoops.com