Wherever he plays on court, CMU junior doing well
Jerry Duckworth always has been one of the shorter players on the basketball court, so he naturally played point guard.
The 6-foot Colorado Mesa University junior, though, had an unorthodox shot until his dad worked on it with him.
Duckworth spent so much time working on his shot, he developed into a shooting guard.
“Ever since I was in elementary school, I would shoot with two hands,” Duckworth recalled. “One day in middle school, I remember going through a shooting slump. My dad taught me the form shot, and I developed it. By the time I got to high school, that was one of my biggest strengths.”
By the time he was a senior in high school in Federal Way, Wash., he was coming off screens and taking shots. Duckworth was recruited as a shooting guard.
He nearly signed with Division I Eastern Washington out of high school, but he switched to Cochise (Ariz.) College when Eastern Washington made a coaching change.
Duckworth helped lead the Apaches to the Arizona Community College Athletics Association title his freshman year. In his two years there, Cochise won 50 games.
At Cochise, Duckworth played against Colorado Mesa teammates Jon Orr (Eastern Arizona College) and Carlos Perez (Arizona Western College).
“(CMU assistant coach Mike) Dominguez called me and told me they had a guy from Cochise and Eastern Arizona,” Perez said. “I kind of knew them. We clicked right away.”
Duckworth immediately recognized Orr and Perez when he came to Mesa.
“It’s cool,” Orr said. “I vaguely remember playing against them. It didn’t cross my mind we might be teammates. It’s fun bringing it up.”
Duckworth came to Colorado Mesa as a shooting guard as well.
“It was a smooth transition actually,” Duckworth said. “The visit went great. Coach treated me well. I met Landon (Vermeer) and Mac (Alexander). Landon and I connected well. We had a nice, long conversation. I felt comfortable right off the bat. Everybody’s nice. Nobody has an ego. I feel at home now.”
Duckworth has come off the bench all season and at times provided a scoring spark off the bench. He had a season-high 15 points with five 3-pointers in a victory over NAIA Montana Western in the Holiday Inn-Airport Thanksgiving Classic.
“He’s a scorer,” Shantz said. “The tough part is finding consistency with a new player in a new system. I thought Jerry’s done a good job of filling his role. He definitely has scoring ability. We want him taking shots. He’s a good motion kid because he can pass and dribble. He has a high basketball IQ.”
Duckworth is averaging 6.4 points per game and is shooting 37 percent from the floor. He is second on the team with 27 3-pointers.
He played significant minutes at point guard for the first time in years last weekend after Clay Kame slightly pulled a hamstring leg Friday. Kame is day-to-day with a pulled hamstring.
“It was different, but I still felt at home,” he said. “It came as a little shocker being in there doing it.”
Although Shantz recruited Duckworth as a shooting guard, the coach said Duckworth is getting more reps at point guard in practice.
“We feel like we’re strong at (shooting guard) with him and Landon, but he’s also getting some opportunities at the point guard position, too,” Shantz said. “He handles the ball well and is extremely confident with it. That’s all we really need from him (there). He doesn’t turn it over.
“We had one person that left the team during break, and Clay Kame couldn’t play Saturday night. Jerry might play some more minutes at the point as well.”