Following the firing of Duquesne coach Jim Ferry in March, star freshman guard Mike Lewis II requested his release from the university in order to begin contacting other schools. Weeks later, renowned Akron coach Keith Dambrot accepted a seven-year, $7 million contract to become the next Duquesne head coach. Soon after, Dambrot was able to earn a recommitment from Lewis, effectively ushering in a new era of Duquesne basketball. However, several other key contributors from last year’s Dukes squad have departed, leaving the hopes of next year’s team largely in Lewis’ hands. Lewis must build upon a promising freshman campaign if he hopes to keep the Dukes afloat this season in the Atlantic 10.
What He’s Done
A remarkably unheralded recruit coming out of Chaminade Prep (MO), Lewis was one of the A10’s biggest surprises this past season, along with fellow Duquesne freshman, Isiaha Mike. Lewis and Mike, both under-the-radar recruits, were named to the Atlantic 10’s All-Rookie Team. However, the transfer of Isiaha Mike to SMU headlines the long list of departures for the Dukes this offseason. The loss of Mike hurts the Dukes, but not as much as the departure of Lewis would have. As a freshman, Lewis led the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), free throw percentage (83.2 percent), minutes per game (32.0) and set a school record for three-pointers made by a freshman with 63. Lewis also led all A10 freshmen in scoring, totaling 15.3 ppg in conference play.
On February 15 against UMass, Lewis’ 31 points were one point shy of the Duquesne freshman record. To end the first half that night, Lewis stole the ball from UMass guard Luwane Pipkins and hit an incredible one-handed, across-the-body heave from half-court. The sequence wound up being the number two play of the night on SportsCenter that evening.
What He’ll Do
Following Dambrot’s hire, it was clear that his first order of business was to gain a recommitment from Lewis. Expect Lewis to take on an even more centralized role in Duquesne’s offense this coming season. With Isiaha Mike gone now, as well as Emile Blackman (12.5 ppg) and Nakye Sanders (5.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg), coach Dambrot will rely heavily on the play of Mike Lewis in his first season at the helm. As far as Lewis’ production goes, I expect for his shooting percentages to decline minimally due to his increased role, but I also expect for his scoring totals to top last season’s. Duquesne must take better care of the basketball this year if they hope to improve, and Lewis will have to raise his 0.8 assist-to-turnover ratio if he wishes to see that happen.
All stats are courtesy of Duquesne Athletics.