Chico State junior getting national attention in breakout season


Robert Duncan, a junior at Chico State. is one of the top players on the basketball team. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

It’s been a long and hard-fought journey for junior guard Robert Duncan. Going from high school, to the Air Force, to red shirting his freshman year, Duncan started from the bottom and now he’s here.

Leading the Chico State men’s basketball team in assists (4.1), rebounds (5.9), scoring (15.9) and a first place spot in the CCAA conference, now the rest of the sports world is taking notice.

Back in November, the Wildcats played an exhibition game against the University of Arizona which was played on a national PAC-12 TV network. It was this game that Duncan made a name for himself for all the world to see. In the second half with Chico State trailing by 11 points, Duncan stole the ball, went the length of the court and threw down a vicious one-handed dunk over University of Arizona guard Gabe York.

The dunk went viral and the world of social media exploded, but the thing that surprised everyone was how much attention his hair style got.

“One day, me and a couple of my friends just started growing our hair out, and I was like I’m just gonna do a man-bun,” Duncan said, laughing. “I don’t know why it’s getting so much publicity, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Teammate and sophomore guard Jalen McFerren thinks it gives him a confidence boost.

“Rob has a swagger about him, and I think the man-bun is a big part of it,” McFerren said. “It really just works for him.”


Junior Robert Duncan practices taking free throws. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

Duncan is one of three California Collegiate Athletic Association athletes that has been selected to join the field of 100 athletes to compete for the Bevo Francis Award, which is given to the finest men’s basketball players among all small college basketball. The finalists will be announced April 1 in a highlight video.

Duncan has worked extremely hard to get where he is right now and puts in the extra time in the weight room and after practice working on his game.

Assistant coach Justin Blake saw his potential right away.

“He stood out from the beginning and we always knew he was going to be really good,” Blake said. “The guy loves to work on his game, he always stays after practice to get more shots up because he wants to be great.”

With star players sometimes it can be hard to motivate them or find the right way to push their buttons that gets them to work harder. In the case of Duncan, head coach Greg Clink has found the perfect way to motivate his star player.

“Coach likes to imitate Rob at practice,” McFerren said. “He will either imitate aggressive Rob or laid back Rob as a way to motivate him and pump him up.”

Duncan is a leader on and off the court, who works hard and puts in the extra effort to improve in all facets of his game.

“People don’t see the behind-the-scenes things that he does, the hours he spends trying to improve his 3-point shot which is now one of the best on the team,” Blake said. “His drive and work ethic, that’s what really separates him and makes him special.”

Jason Spies can be reached at [email protected] or @Jason_Spies on Twitter.