Two former Clayton State University basketball players made NBA news this month as Tony Dukes won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Young joined the league’s Phoenix Suns as an assistant coach.
Dukes, a 2013 graduate of Clayton State and a native of Morrow, just finished his first season as a coaching associate for the Lakers, who picked up their 17th NBA title on Oct. 11. Dukes’ primary roles include working in the video room, where he breaks down game video, makes edits for coaches and team video sessions and assists with preparing scouting reports.
“This is something you dream about as a kid, but also as a player,” Dukes said. “It means just as much and feels just as good because the players and staff all know and respect the amount of time and effort video guys put in to prepare the team and coaches to do their job at the highest level.”
Prior to joining Los Angeles, Dukes spent a year with the San Antonio Spurs as a video assistant and one year in the G League with the Lakeland Magic. Dukes started his coaching endeavors at the University of Louisville, where he was a graduate assistant with the women’s basketball team from 2015-17.
“It has definitely been a surreal experience to be fortunate enough to learn and be around some of the great players, coaches and executives during my time with the Lakers, Spurs and Lakeland Magic of the NBA G League,” Dukes said. “Every day, walking into work, you can feel the prestigiousness of all of the greats over the years who worked for those perspective organizations in which I am so thankful for. The banners, retired jerseys and appearances of former players and coaches reminds you of how blessed it is to have been a part of those great organizations.”
Dukes played his final two seasons of college ball at Clayton State after two, one-year stints at Atlanta Metro State and USC Upstate. In his first year as a Laker, Dukes played in all 27 games, starting 15, as Clayton State went 16-11. That season he averaged 8 points, scored in double-digits eight times and swiped 31 steals, good for second on the team. As a senior, he averaged 10.3 points and made it two straight seasons of shooting better than 38 percent from 3-point range.
Young, who played his final two seasons of college basketball with the Lakers from 2002-04, was recently hired as an assistant coach with the Suns after spending four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. While in Philly, Young spent the 2018-19 season with Suns head coach Monty Williams, who also served as an assistant coach for the Sixers.
Before arriving in Philly, Young spent nine seasons as a coach in the NBA G League, including time as a head coach of the Delaware Blue Coats, formally the Delaware 87ers, Iowa Energy and Utah Flash. Young has also coached for the Shamrock Rovers, Utah Valley University and Oxford College of Emory.
Young, a native of Marietta, began his collegiate career at Middle Georgia College before transferring to Clayton State. Young started 51 games while playing in 59 and averaged 7.1 points, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 rebounds for his career.