Born to play basketball - Henry Dugat

He's so reverent and quiet you'd think he was always in church, even during class. He's difficult to talk to in that he doesn't volunteer much in the way of conversation, as one practically has to drag every tidbit of information out of him. He does well in school making A's and B's as his 3.4 GPA will attest. He never causes anyone any trouble, nor would any stretch of the imagination say he's aggressive. That is, until and unless you put a basketball in his hands . . .

. . . and put him on the basketball court, and then Henry Dugat is a completely different person, well almost. He is still very respectful, he still doesn't have any reason to talk much, and he works and plays well with others, unless he's playing against you.

Make no mistake here - no one is talking about being overly aggressive, or that Henry turns into a raging bull, but to see him on the basketball court and off the court would make one think Henry was a completely different person.

On the basketball court Henry Dugat can be poetry in motion as he seems to defy gravity at times on his way to a slam dunk or even an easy lay-up after a fast break. He appears to leave the basketball court about the free-throw line as he seems to fly towards the basket to either slam the basketball home or lay it gingerly in the basket like it was an "over-grown" Easter egg.

Henry Dugat was born on January 1, 1987 in what was then known as Kersting Memorial Hospital in Liberty, Texas to Henry Dugat, Jr. and his wife Gladys. Henry grew up in his home town of Dayton, Texas doing what most kids do - he played. He played sand-lot football, he played basketball, he ran, he jumped and enjoyed life. He started school and now there were a lot more kids to play with and against. And then Henry found organized basketball.

Back when Henry was going to elementary school, the ages that were being allowed to play organized basketball kept going down and down. Baseball had its T-ball and kids of the same age were being given the chance to play competitive, organized basketball.

Henry Dugat was noticed at a very young age. It actually got to the point that the highlight of the youth basketball season was to find out which team got the first pick of the draft, for that was the team which got Henry and was an automatic pick as probable champion.

As Henry grew older, so did his competition. No, this is not a reference to the maturity process of his peers, but a literal translation or transition if you will, to Henry playing on the City Park basketball courts with the adults. Henry's game improved. It wasn't long until again he was among the first chosen.

When Henry was in the fifth grade he decided that he was going to be a basketball player. Most kids going to school don't realize or recognize their "real sport" until after they get into high school. Most everyone who plays sports in junior high plays all of them, football, basketball, baseball, and track. Henry, although he had decided he would focus on basketball during the fifth grade, still played football in 7th and 8th grade, but when he entered high school, Henry Dugat committed 100% of himself and his game to basketball. He became focused on the sport that he loved more than any other and basketball would be the only sport he would play. Henry would be good at it - compared to most, he already was.

Awhile back, TheeBearsDen sat down with Henry Dugat for an interview. Most of the information was used in the production of this article, but Henry also answered some questions abut his game and the other things he likes.

TheeBearsDen: Well, Henry the Dayton Broncos had their first winning season in some time. What are your feelings concerning this past season?

Henry: I really felt this was our year to move into the playoffs, but we just couldn't get things to go our way.

TheeBearsDen: What parts of your game are you satisfied with and what parts still need a lot of work?

Henry: I feel like I need to work on every aspect of my game.

TheeBearsDen: What do you think about before a game?

Henry: Playing the best I can to help myself and my team.

TheeBearsDen: What, besides basketball do you enjoy most about school.

Henry: My friends.

Henry Dugat is one of few words, but TheeBearsDen also found out that his favorite food is pizza, his favorite beverage is Gatorade, and his favorite dessert is pineapples. His favorite athlete is Tracy McGrady because he is a complete basketball player.

By now some are beginning to wonder why all this over a high school basketball player. If that is your question then two things are evident: first, you haven't seen much if any in the way of Bronco basketball and second, you don't know Henry.

Henry Dugat is only a junior at Dayton High School, which means he will be back for another year of high school basketball.

This past season, Henry Dugat played in 29 basketball games. He scored 838 points to lead all Greater Houston 4-A basketball players. His average was 28.9 points per game. Second to Henry was Daniel Gibson, a senior from Houston Jones at 25.5 points per game.

The 5-A scoring leader was senior Derrick Roberts of Houston Aldine who averaged 28.9 points per game, so Henry was the top scorer in 4-A and tied for first among 5-A players.

One very important aspect concerning Henry Dugat is his grades. Henry carries a 3.4 in the classroom and already has a qualifying score on his SAT college entrance exam.

According to his basketball coach, Geoff McCracken, Henry Dugat is a complete athlete.

"First of all, this is a great kid. We've had good athletes come through here (Dayton) but Henry Dugat is the complete package - physical talent, academics, character, attitude, work ethic, and he's always on his best behavior," said Coach McCracken.

Henry is also a team player. There are other kids from other teams in Dayton's district who are their team's top scorer, but that is mainly because every chance they have to shoot the ball, they shoot it - hit or miss, high percentage shot or low percentage shot, they take it. Many times, many times Henry Dugat approaches a basket for what looks to be an easy lay-up and at the last minute passes the ball off to one of his teammates to do the honors. He is a very unselfish player who plays within his team. Make no mistake, Henry Dugat has the talent and can take charge of a basketball game and dictate its outcome, but for the most part he is the consummate team player.

The reason that all this is beginning to pay off is because now colleges are already coming to Dayton to see Henry's game. Coaches from Lamar, Baylor, Texas, Rice, Texas A&M, Houston, Kansas State, Colorado State, and others have come to Dayton or called Coach McCracken inquiring about Henry Dugat.

What's Henry's take on all this? It's all fine, but he's going to be a Dayton Bronco for another year and right now that is where his focus lies. He will talk to the schools he is interested in and will even take trips to check them out in person, but he'll do all that around his school work and practice. He is still working on his game.

Henry also had a message for all those kids out there going to elementary school and junior high. We talked about it and Henry sees it all the time - kids who get to high school and due to poor study habits or attendance find themselves barely passing and having to sit out or miss parts of their season because of bad grade reports.

"Kids need to learn early that unless they are content to play only on a basketball court at some city park they need to stay in school and make good grades," said Henry. Playing instead of studying doesn't work. If you want to play, make the grades that will allow you to keep playing, otherwise you're just going to be disappointed.

Editor's note: Since the time of this interview and when this article was first written, Baylor and Texas appear to be the two teams in the lead for Henry's interests. Over the past three weeks Rick Barnes from Texas and Scott Drew from Baylor have been to Dayton to visit with Henry. Word on the street is that Henry could make a decision soon, but then Henry never gets too much in a hurry unless he's behind, and right now he seems to be in the lead.

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