Trick-Shot Magic

One of four scholarship newcomers to Wisconsin men's basketball team, Duje Dukan is building his strength in the weight room and the accuracy of his shot, two things he hopes will get him involved sooner than later.

MADISON – Bo Ryan didn't do Duje Dukan any favors when he stepped to the podium on national signing day.

An under-the-radar prospect at Deerfield (Ill) High, Dukan fielded just one other BCS offer (Arizona State) when he committed to Wisconsin last November. With people making inquires, Ryan said that Dukan could beat any challenger in a HORSE competition.

So far, it's been slim pickings when it comes to willing challengers.

"As of right now, nobody," said Dukan, known to make a shot sitting in the front row. "We'll see if somebody offers to play me."

Rest assured, Dukan is more than a trick-shot artist. Averaging 23 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a senior, Dukan, shot 50 percent from the floor on his way to earning first-team all-state honors. Being recruiting by former assistant coach Howard Moore, Dukan can drive the lane, hit a perimeter shot, post up against his defense or throw down an impressive slam dunk.

He's still learning and improving by his own admission, but he showed some of his potential in Wisconsin's Red-White scrimmage. Dukan played 12 minutes, made two of his four shots, finishing with five points, three rebounds and one turnover.

"Being able to finally put on a Wisconsin jersey and represent the team I am going to be with the next four years is great," Dukan said. "Being in front of a crowd and everybody cheering for and Wisconsin basketball is great. Just being able to play with those guys was a great experience."

Dukan, who was born in Croatia and raised in the Chicago area, has been around the professional and international game for years. Dukan's father, Ivica, is the Director of International Scouting for the Chicago Bulls and played professionally in Europe for 15 years. With all that experience and knowledge, he still hasn't experienced like the physicality of a UW basketball practice.

"Mike Bruesewitz got a busted lip, Keaton Nankivil has a busted-up eye and guys are bruised and scared," Dukan said. "It's physical and it's something that we as freshmen have to get used to. It's definitely an adjustment phase."

To combat that intensity, Dukan has tried to bulk up his lanky 6-foot-8, 205-pound frame. He's pushed himself in the weight room to add muscle, which in turn has seen him improve his jump shot, pull-up shot and ball handling.

Not sure whether he will end up contributing or redshirting, Dukan is simply enjoying the opportunity to absorb the knowledge around him as he prepares for Friday's exhibition opener against UW-La Crosse.

He's also hoping that he'll have the chance to defend his undisputed HORSE title.

"Overall, I think my whole game is getting better for my strength," Dukan said. "It's going to make my shot easier to get off. Right now, I am just working to be the best player I can be.

"The guys have been unbelievable , including all the freshmen and myself everywhere. Whether it is dinner or just hanging out, the older guys make us involved. The coaching staff from Coach Ryan to the three assistants is an incredible group looking to make us better as a team and as individuals every day."

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