Photo courtesy of Daly Dose of Hoops.
By David Cordova
Over the last few years, the Wichita State Shockers have been one of the premier mid-major basketball programs in the country, as they have gone farther than many expected. From 2012 to 2018, the Shockers have made six NCAA Tournament appearances, with the furthest they went being the NCAA Final Four in 2013. It’s fair to say that all that the Shockers know is how to be successful.
In the case of Markis McDuffie, success is something that he knows very well, as he was a part of three Shockers teams that made it to the Big Dance and one that won the AAC Tournament championship in his sophomore season. The 6-foot-8 forward is a flat-out scorer that puts up impressive numbers, but most of all, he is a great leader on the court, and his play speaks for itself.
“What motivates me is supreme confidence, you know, in myself, in my abilities. Just, you know, not always, not being the biggest guy in the world, I always believed, if you work hard, then anything is possible,” said McDuffie.
A native of Paterson, New Jersey, McDuffie has loved the game from a young age. “I was probably like five years old, I always just loved the game, of course I played a lot of sports, but it came to a point where this is just my love, and I’ve been playing it since I was a little kid,” he said.
In the city of Paterson, everything is not always pretty. It is a tough place, but like any other urban environment in America. There’s plenty of people looking for a way out by staying positive and doing the right things. But there are also those that can be led astray and go on a path to destruction. In the case of McDuffie, he would choose the right path.
“Being from Paterson, New Jersey, you know, a lot of people don’t make it out,” said McDuffie of his city, “Me being raised from there, me being in the city and things like that, and growing up and playing basketball and things like that, basketball gets a lot of people in the city. They made me better, to the point where I am now. I just grew up and kept following my dreams.”
In his younger days, McDuffie played on the Sports U program, which is now on the Under Armour Association circuit and has produced NBA players such as Wade Baldwin and All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves).
On playing for Sports U, he replied, “Oh, Sports U, that’s an amazing program, my guy, Ed Bright, that’s like my second father right there, you know, he brung me into the program, and ever since then, I fell in love with the program. You know, I got better every single year, I played with a lot of great players, and stuff like that, been to a lot of places I’ve never been before and it really grew me as a player.”
McDuffie played his high school basketball at the legendary St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. As both as junior and senior, he averaged 14.4 points per game for the Friars. He also had the chance to play for Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley, who coached at St. Anthony from 1972 to 2017 and won over 1,000 games, 28 state titles in the state of New Jersey, four national titles and sent over 150 players to Division I colleges.
When asked about his high school years at the now-defunct school on 8thStreet, he replied, “That experience was amazing playing for St. Anthony’s, you know, I played freshman, JV, and varsity, so I played all three levels. I got better, I dealt with great coaching at every single level, because Coach Hurley surrounds himself with a bunch of great coaches. And Coach Hurley was amazing, I think the best, pretty much, if not one of the best, you know, he taught me so much, he matured me as a basketball player. He gave me that discipline to be successful.”
Like many people in the Garden State, McDuffie was saddened when St. Anthony had to close its doors in June 2017, due to declining enrollment and a lack of funding. When asked about how the closure had an effect on him, he replied, “Aw, man, I was devastated, you know, just to see the school closing, and things like that. But it’s been like that for a long time, and for them to keep it open for so long, and keep it so strong, because of Coach Hurley, and the things he’s done there, you know, it’s been amazing. It’s more like, you know you have no regrets, pretty much, because the school is so amazing.”
As a high school senior, McDuffie signed a letter of intent to play at Wichita State. When asked about his decision to play for the Shockers, he replied, “What led me to come to Wichita State is just, you know, the fans. Just how supportive they are, their unconditional love and support of the players, the community, Coach [Gregg] Marshall, how real he was with me, and let me know what’s real, and that’s all I want to get from a coach, to let me know what’s real. I just felt comfortable there, when I went to Wichita [on the visit], I just felt like this is the place I should be.”
On the fan support at the games at the Charles Koch Arena, McDuffie replied, “The fans treat us amazing, they show us a lot of love. [They] take pictures and they’re always talking great things about us, they’d do anything for us. Before the games, you know, the line would be packed, hours before the game, because, they can’t wait to go in there, and it’s sold out every single game.”
On playing in the American Athletic Conference, where the Shockers moved to just two seasons ago after playing in the Missouri Valley Conference since 1949, McDuffie replied, “The American Conference is just an amazing conference, you know, every team is good, high-level, next-level players, every single game is a battle, great teams, great top-tier teams, bottom-tier teams are pretty good, so like, it’s just a great conference all-around.”
In his career at Wichita State, he scored over 1,500 points for the Shockers and led them to three NCAA Tournament appearances. This season, he averaged 18.2 points and five rebounds per game and led Wichita State to a 22-15 record and an appearance in the NIT semifinals.
When asked what it was like finishing out his collegiate career at, of all places, Madison Square Garden, which many call, “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” he replied, “It feels great to finish out at a place where I dreamed of playing in, you know, and things like that, as a young kid, being from New Jersey, watching New York basketball. The World’s Most Famous Arena, so many amazing celebrities [have] been in that building, amazing players, just to play on that floor is amazing.”
On the experience of leading the Shockers to three NCAA Tournaments, he replied, “The experience of going Dancing is an amazing experience, you know, it’s a blessing you know, it’s a lot of college basketball teams, and only 68 teams get to play in it, and if you’re chosen, you’re bound for success, and you’ve had a successful year.”
On May 18th, which is next week, McDuffie will receive his degree in sports management from Wichita State. When asked about how he wants his legacy to be remembered now that he’s done playing college basketball, he replied, “I want to be remembered as a leader, you know, a guy who’s been here four years, and continued to improve here every single year, you know. Just me as a person, me being outgoing, enthusiastic, a lot of energy, things like that, and just, a great people person.”
The kid from Paterson has made it big in a way that others from the city haven’t. He got his degree. As of the present day, he is working out for NBA teams, most recently, the Charlotte Hornets. He may get drafted, he may make a summer league team or he may just play overseas. Whatever comes next for Markis McDuffie will definitely be something great.