Duncanville: The Rulers of the Lone Star State

By David Cordova

When people think of sports in the state of Texas, the first thing that may come to mind is football, because of the culture in the state. In movies such as Friday Night Lights and Carter High, you see how much people ride for their team.

However, basketball isn’t too far behind, as there are plenty of talented players coming out of hotbeds such as the Houston area and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One team in particular, at the present moment, is standing out above all the rest. 

The Duncanville Panthers, a team out of Duncanville, Texas, a city located in Dallas County, is one of the premier teams in their county, their state and on the national level. Throughout the years, the Panthers have made a name for themselves on a big stage. 

Damon Nicholas, Jr. now a freshman at Sam Houston State, secures the ball for Duncanville at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest on Nov. 28th, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

On the girls basketball side, they have produced players such as 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, Ariel Atkins, Tiffany Jackson (assistant coach at University of Texas) and most recently, Deja Kelly, a former McDonald’s All-American selection who is entering her sophomore season at North Carolina.

On the boys basketball side, they have produced players such as Greg Ostertag, Chris Owens, Perry Jones (plays for s.Oliver Wurzberg in Germany), Jah’mius Ramsey, who is now in his second season with the Sacramento Kings and Micah Peavy, who is entering his sophomore season at TCU, after having played his freshman season at Texas Tech.

Last season was one for the ages with the Panthers, especially after having been robbed of playing for a state championship in March 2020, due to the rise of COVID-19. When the season started in November, the plan was clear from the start, it was to win, win and win.

C.J. Ford, now a senior for the Panthers, brings the ball up to the lane. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

The man responsible for the success of the Panthers is head coach David Peavy, who played collegiate basketball at University of Incarnate Word, where he graduated in 1996, and has coached at three other high schools before coming to Duncanville and has been in the coaching game for more than 20 years. Now entering his fourth season at the helm, as head coach, the four-time Coach of the Year winner has had a record of 90-13 and has led the Panthers to three Texas 6A state championships.

On last season’s team, he had a huge assortment of talent, which included seniors such as Zhuric Phelps (SMU), Damon Nicholas (Sam Houston State) and Juan Reyna (Alabama State), all of whom are now college freshmen about t  play Division I basketball this upcoming season.

Some of the returning players from last year’s are 6-8 junior forward Ron Holland, 6-11 forward Cameron Barnes, 6-5 senior guard Davion Sykes, 6-5 senior forward Andre Kanu, 6-1 junior guard Jackson Prince and 6-1 senior guard C.J. Ford.

The woman behind the camera, Brittany Graham is the content creator for Duncanville’s boys program and has featured them on her YouTube channel. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

A lot of the returning players have a shot at playing college basketball, especially Barnes and Holland, both of whom are high-major Division I talents. Last season, the Panthers went 29-1 on the season and beat some major in-state opponents, such as iSchool of Lewisville, Yates (Houston), DeSoto, Waxahachie, Richardson and Westlake, whom they beat twice during the season, including in the Texas 6A state championship in the Alamodome in San Antonio on March 13th. 

Also, on November 28th, the Panthers faced a huge test that prepared them for the state tournament as they faced Ypsi Prep Academy, a prep school program based out of Ypsilanti, Michigan, which had the then No. 1 player in the nation in Emoni Bates, who is now entering his freshman season at the University of Memphis, after reclassifying up into the Class of 2021 from the Class of 2022.

The Duncanville bench applauds after a big play at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest on Nov. 28th, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

In this game, which was played as the headlining matchup of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest at the American Airlines Center in Dallas (the home court of the Dallas Mavericks), Duncanville showed that they were not fazed by their competition, as they pulled off a 14-point victory, 79-65, over Bates & Co. They proved the sentiment that Hoopfest CEO/founder Glenn Smith had made that an out of state team would not have an easy win against a team from the state of Texas on their home turf.

Damon Nicholas, Jr. and Aric Demings double team Ypsi Prep’s Dillon Hunter at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

Because of the team’s efforts, Coach Peavy was awarded the MaxPreps National Coach of the Year and the Panthers finished at No. 6 in the MaxPreps national rankings.

Throughout the last couple of seasons, the team has been followed and documented by filmographer Brittany Graham, a freelance sports content creator, whose videos under the tag, “It’s By Britt,” have garnered a lot of views on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. It’s safe to say, wherever you see the Panthers, you’ll be seeing Britt as well with her camera in tow.

This year’s Panthers are back and ready to do damage once again. But they have a brand new cast of players in transfers such as 6-7 junior forward Ashton Hardaway, the son of University of Memphis head coach and former NBA player Penny Hardaway, as well as 6-6 senior guard Anthony Black, who is rated as the No. 26 player in the Class of 2022 by ESPN. Two impact freshmen will also be coming in, such as 5-10 guard Tony Dixon, Jr. and 6-2 guard Kayden Edwards.

Ron Holland boxes out Emoni Bates at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest. (Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint)

So far, The Season Ticket has rated them as No. 18 nationally in their preseason top-25 list and No. 2 nationally amongst public schools. Also, they’ll be playing a top-notch schedule as they will play against iSchool of Lewisville on Nov. 20th, at the R.J. Hampton Showcase, Wheeler (Georgia) at the RCS Sports Hoopsgiving on Nov. 24th, at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest on Nov. 26th against Centennial (California), the Red River Hoopfest on Dec. 4-5, the Hoophall West Classic against on Dec. 9th against Montverde Academy (Florida). 

All there is to know is that the Panthers are back and ready to roar against the competition.

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