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HCC guard Dukes gets some new expectations

April 13, 2000|By DAN SPEARS

Hagerstown Community College men's basketball coach Jim Brown puts things simply. He gives his players expectations; if they don't fill them, they're gone. Freshman Jelani Dukes fulfilled every last one of them for the Hawks, but he's leaving, too.

This departure, though, is a very happy one, after the guard signed a letter of intent to go to North Carolina A&T and play for the Aggies this fall.

"This is definitely a dream come true," Dukes said at the HCC athletic complex on Wednesay, the first day of the spring signing period. "I've been blessed to have these abilities, and now I get the opportunity to play Division I basketball."

Stuck in the NCAA Clearinghouse last season, Dukes has finally received the OK to move on. He came to HCC after Brown handed him the expectations - and the reins to his team.

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"I'm very delighted," Brown said. "He had an excellent year for us. And he's not just an excellent player. ... It's always a pleasure to see someone with his skills on the floor and in the community go on to succeed."

"You sit and you wait and you know that stuff should be taken care of," Dukes said. "But coach Brown talked to me before all that stuff happened. He told me what he expected. He said I'd have to take care of all that."

Since then, Dukes has been all business. Now he'll show his stuff for the Greensboro, N.C., school. The Aggies went 13-15 last season under Curtis Hunter and lost in the second round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. Even though the team only loses two seniors, Dukes has the opportunity to make his three years memorable.

"Being here has prepared me a lot. Every game here is a tough one," Dukes said. "I know I have a great opportunity to start (for the Aggies). It's about how hard I work. If I do that, the rest is up to God. And the coaches."

One coach that doesn't need convincing is Brown. Outside of pleading with Dukes to find the weight room, he knows expectations will never ever be a problem for Dukes again.

"This has worked out well for him," Brown said. "He's gotten to play a lot - probably the most minutes on the team. He's a leader now, he's gone through those situations. I know he can handle things now."

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