When Kahlil Dukes suited up for the Capital Prep varsity squad as a freshman two years ago, expectations were high. He was known as a pure scorer, and that’s exactly what he proved to be that season, scoring nearly 30 points per game to lead the state. But that didn’t mean he was satisfied with his level of play.
“That was the role I had to play on that particular team,” says Dukes. “That team needed me to take more shots in order for us to be successful, so the offense ran through me. But I wanted to prove that I’m more than a scorer and that I can do other things to help our team win.”
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-11 Dukes switched from shooting guard to the point. And while his scoring average dropped to 14.8 per game, his assists jumped from 3.3 as a freshman to 6.5. And not coincidentally, Capital Prep went from 14 wins in 2009-10 to 21 victories last season and a trip to the Class S state semifinals.
“Kahlil read a lot of scouting reports in the offseason that listed all the things he couldn’t do,” says Capital Prep coach Levy Gillespie. “And he’s the type that wants to prove people wrong, and he’s willing to work at it.”
So what does Dukes have in mind for his junior season?
“I think I can have a better year,” he says. “We came up short last year, and this team has a lot of good players. I know I can improve my own game. I want to get us that state championship.”
Dukes has several mid-major Division I offers, while other top programs have started to show interest. This summer, he spent time playing on the same AAU team as New London star Kris Dunn, and the two are good friends.
“Kris is one of my role models,” says Dukes. “I see all the success he’s had and how unsatisfied he still is, and it motivates me to keep working hard every day.”
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