Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
Who says you can't come home again?
Not former Morrow basketball standout Tony Dukes.
Dukes, the former Clayton News Daily Player of the Year, was a starter for USC Upstate last season, but will transfer to Clayton State University where he will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Lakers.
He began his college career at the junior college level, playing for Atlanta Metro College.
He is expected to step in at one of the guard spots where the Lakers must replace Timmy Downs and Brandon Robinson. The duo led Clayton State in scoring last year.
"I think it will be great," Dukes said. "I want to help put Clayton State back on the map."
Dukes was in middle school when he first met CSU head coach Gordon Gibbons during a summer basketball camp.
The former Morrow standout was offered a chance to come to Clayton State last year, but declined in order to pursue his Division I dreams at Upstate.
He is grateful CSU kept the offer on the table when he decided to transfer.
"Things really didn't work out here like I had hoped, but I am happy I have the chance now," Dukes said. "I have a lot of trust in the CSU staff."
In his only season at USC Upstate, Dukes averaged 6 points per game and pulled down two rebounds.
"Tony has gained tremendous experience as a two-year college starter at different levels," said Gibbons. "He will be a valuable addition to our backcourt as we replace the two All-Region seniors."
The former Mustang earned his reputation as a sharp-shooter in high school, becoming the second leading scorer in Morrow history with 985 career points. He also set the team career record with 139 career 3-pointers.
Dukes will be the fourth player from Morrow to don a Clayton State uniform. Rod Venner, Trae Goss and Eric Wilson are former Morrow players to play for Gibbons.
A year ago, Clayton State missed out on a trip to the NCAA tournament after going 19-10.
However, Dukes joins a team with plenty of depth. Next year's roster is also expected to include two other players with ties to the Southern Crescent. Rising senior Torrin Greene and rising sophomore Zach Bradley should also get plenty of playing time. Both are graduates of North Clayton High School.
This year's recruiting class at CSU also includes Hawaii transfer Anthony Salter.