Duquesne’s sophomore center Darius Lewis is not only the tallest player on the roster at 6-11, 255 pounds; he also has one of the biggest success stories around.
The Lexington, Kentucky native signed with the Dukes in April 2013 to become the fifth member of the 2013-14 recruiting class. Before Duquesne, Lewis left Tates Creek High School in 2011 for the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he would go on to average 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game in his 2012-13 season. Lewis played in 10 games off the bench as a freshman last season at Duquesne and earned his first career start Tuesday against Texas-Pan American in a career-high 11 points and five blocks effort.
But success didn’t always come so easy for Lewis.
Prior to the 2011-12 season he spent at the IMG Academy, Lewis dropped nearly 60 pounds to reach a higher tier of conditioning and speed for the court. He saw his work payoff with a No. 50 ranking in the 2013 Florida Hoops Top 150.
Since signing with Duquesne, Lewis has continually worked to improve his body for the physical demands of basketball, working with Director of Operations Danny Lawson regarding nutrition and exercising.
“That’s something I worked on,” Lewis said of his training. “Coach has been on me about getting in shape, running the floor hard, changing my body overall. I’ve been sticking with it and it’s really helping me.”
Lewis has been seeing more playing time this year in comparison to his freshman season.
“That’s such a credit to him,” head coach Jim Ferry said of Lewis’ weight loss and persistent conditioning. “He had worked his tail off.”
In Tuesday’s 78-72 Texas-Pan American victory, Lewis played a total of 25 minutes, just behind starters Derrick Colter, Jeremiah Jones, Dominique McKoy and Micah Mason, all of whom are older teammates. His ability to stay on the court and contribute for a longer effort is an improvement for the center from last season. His 2013-14 season-high playing time was 10 minutes.
“I think that now that since my body is in more shape, I actually have a better time of being able to stay out on the court,” Lewis said. “I’m not getting as tired as much, so I think overall with the increase in minutes it helps me get into a rhythm, but also me being in better shape is helping me stay out there as well.”
Besides the increase in minutes, Lewis has also noticed a difference in his presence on the court.
“This summer, like summer league, I could feel myself getting faster, being able to stay in longer, running the court even faster,” Lewis stated. “It’s just a consistent thing that keeps building and I’m just glad that I can stay out there on the court with my teammates for as long as possible and help get a ‘W.’”
Ferry also noticed Lewis’ transformation, both physically and developmentally on the court.
“His body has changed dramatically,” Ferry commented. “He’s in better shape and he can move and he can always catch the ball, so it’s just a matter of him getting experience—not just practice experience, it’s about game experience. He was getting some minutes—we always looked at him as more like a 12-15 minute guy; [against Texas-Pan American] we were able to extend him, and if we can do that, he gives us that larger presence on the floor.”
Not only is Lewis stronger and faster, but he also is a player respected by his team and classmates.
“Darius is just a wonderful kid,” Ferry said. “[He is] one of the most low-maintenance human beings, an excellent student, great friend, and a great teammate.”