'No fear of being a ball hog': Washington senior basketball player almost too unselfish
Georgia Duncan falls into that rare category of players — unselfish almost to a fault.
The Washington senior is a pass-first scorer with a hard-working mentality. Her array of talents has been on display this season as the Panthers (15-4, 6-1) welcome Limestone (5-12, 2-4) for a Mid-Illini Conference girls basketball meeting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
So is it possible that the 6-foot guard — averaging 16.2 points a game and shooting 60.2% from the field — could be more selfish?
“Absolutely,” Washington coach Kim Barth said. “I have been talking to her about being more aggressive. She has the green light all the time, so I think I just have to continue to remind her of that. She should have no fear of being a ball hog because she does great things with the basketball.
“We’re confident in her. We just want her to continue being confident in herself. She’s hard to guard. We want the ball in her hands as much as we can.”
Duncan openly admits that her coach isn’t wrong.
“I just try to be a team player,” the all-Mid-Illini Conference first-teamer said. “I trust my teammates, but I mean, I guess, I could be a little more selfish at times with the ball.
“We have a lot of talented players on our team, and this year I’ve tried to be a leader.”
Duncan, who seems like she’s been around longer than four years, says she continues to polish her offensive game. She keeps sharp her repertoire of skills — from her ability to beat opponents off the bounce, to finding open teammates or spotting up for the open 3-pointer. That has been key in the development of Duncan’s game.
But making sure she’s not forcing anything is especially important to her.
“I just try to play in the flow of the game,” the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association special mention all-stater said. “When I have a dribble drive, I attack (the basket) and just see what’s open and play in the flow.”
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Defense, though, may be the most underrated part of her game.
Take the Jan. 4 win over Metamora. Duncan was assigned to all-league player Katy Ramage and limited her to no points. Plain and simple: Duncan was locked in.
“We gave Georgia a stiff job (guarding Ramage),” Barth said, “and she stepped up on both ends of the court.”
That’s a testament to Duncan wanting to put the extra effort in on the defensive end. This comes through rebounding, stepping in the passing lane for steals or making deflections that lead to turnovers, according to Duncan.
She’s averaging 4.6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.2 steals a game.
“If my shot’s not falling on offense, usually I try to work harder on defense,” the Journal Star all-area selection said.
Duncan’s four years on varsity are definitely paying dividends. She’ll continue her playing career at McKendree University. This gives Washington a 1-2 punch of players looking to excel at the next level. Junior Claire McDougall has already made her verbal commitment to Bradley University.
“She’s a great passer, good rebounder,” Duncan said of the 6-foot McDougall, “and it’s really fun playing with her.”
Duncan and McDougall along with senior Luci Wilson have been playing together since second grade, building rare on-court chemistry. Together, the trio has helped Washington keep pace with Morton in the Mid-Illini standings, sitting just a half-game back.
McDougall is one to reciprocate that admiration for playing with Duncan.
“Oh, I love playing with her,” she said.
“I feel like we play so well together, we flow so well together. … With us, it’s not ‘who’s getting the ball,' it’s more of a team play, I feel like, which isn’t something that every team can say, so I think we have something special.”
A runner-up finish at the State Farm Holiday Classic gave Washington "so much confidence, while getting better as a team," Duncan says. She now points to the second half of the M-I schedule as great preparation for an incredibly tough sectional complex.
Games at Morton and Dunlap loom in the coming weeks, with Metamora’s visit to Torry Gym closing out the regular season.
“Every game, we have to come ready to play,” Duncan said, “because it’s honestly anyone’s game. Mid-Illini teams, they can be tough, and you got to bring it every day.”
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.