JHS’s new basketball coach aims to bring back winning culture
Writer / Shannon Siders
Louisville native Richard Duncan is eager for the start of basketball season, as he fills his new role of varsity boys basketball coach at Jeffersontown High School. Duncan was awarded the head coach job for the Chargers in July, following the departure of Miquel Coleman, who left his post after two years to take the head coach job at Seneca High School.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity,” Duncan says. “I’m anxious to get started. I really am. I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
A 1995 graduate of Doss High School, Duncan played point guard for the Dragons before continuing his playing career at the collegiate level. He had a stint at Northeastern Community College, then joined the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University.
At MTSU, located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Duncan found himself in the school record books for both individual game and season stats. His 12 steals against Eastern Kentucky University in a February 1999 game remain a school record, and put him on a short list of NCAA Division I men’s basketball players with 12 or more steals in a single game.
Despite hopes of entering the NBA after college, Duncan instead found himself playing professionally overseas. He spent two years abroad, competing for teams in Holland, Puerto Rico, Austria and Mexico.
“Every kids’ dream is to play professional basketball if you’re a basketball player, so it was a no-brainer for me,” says Duncan on his decision to play abroad. “I jumped at the experience. It was a terrific opportunity for me.”
After returning to the states, Duncan began coaching youth sports. He spent eight years as a coach for Louisville Metro Parks and has experience coaching youth in football, soccer and basketball.
“These were the troubled youth, the bad of the bad,” he says. “It was a real eye-opening experience. You meet kids who have some real problems. You have a lot of kids dealing with gun violence and gang violence. I was able to help reach some kids and get them involved in sports and give them some chances and opportunities.”
Duncan spent the last four seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach for Doss. The program enjoyed great success while Duncan was there under head coach Tony Williams, including back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16.
Jeffersontown Athletic Director Gary Weiter was excited for the chance to bring Duncan on board.
“We hired him because of his experience with JCPS and the success he had with Doss,” Weiter says. “He was there a number of years, and they were regional champs. He knows a little something about success, and hopefully he can bring that to J-Town.”
For his part, Duncan has been busy preparing the Chargers with offseason conditioning drills, including lifting weights and track work.
“I’m looking forward to getting the guys ready to compete and be able to play the entire game,” Duncan says. “There’s 32 minutes to play, and I want my guys conditioned to be able to play every minute if they have to.”
Duncan also wants to bring a winning tradition back to Jeffersontown boys basketball, a program that has not posted a winning record since the 2011-2012 season.
“They only won 10 games last year,” Duncan says. “I want them to know what it’s like to be on a team that’s more successful, but I also want them to grow into strong young men and productive citizens.”
Although the team struggled last year, Weiter is confident Duncan can build on the squad to lead them to success. Two seniors and three juniors are due to return to the team’s roster.
“We have a decent core of kids, and I think they’ve been going in the right direction with Coach Coleman,” Duncan says. “Last year, we were runner-up in our district tournament and made it to the regional for the first time in several years. They struggled a little during the year, but by making it to second place in district and then reaching the regional, they got a taste of success.”
Jeffersontown last saw a great deal of success in a stretch that started more than a decade ago, from 2005 to 2009. During that period, the team won four district championship titles, two regional championships and a state championship in 2006.
Although he hopes the team will succeed on the court, one of Duncan’s main goals for the team goes beyond basketball.
“My main goal is to get my senior guys to college,” he says. “I want them to have a plan beyond high school. I want everyone to have a chance to experience college.”
Growing up in the west end of Louisville, Duncan cherished the opportunity to break out of his neighborhood and experience new areas.
“What college did was allow me to see other parts of the world and broaden my horizons,” Duncan says. “Getting to go out and play college basketball let me get out and see the world.”
Duncan has been impressed so far by the community support around the school and looks forward to that carrying into the basketball season.
“People in the community and the support around the school has been outstanding,” he says. “Everybody is nice and supportive. You don’t get that everywhere.”
Off the court, Duncan stays busy as the proud father to three girls, the youngest of whom is following in her dad’s footsteps as a basketball player.
“I’m Mr. Dad away from basketball,” Duncan adds.