Tim Duncan - Goes To School, Takes Opponents To School
Takes Opponents to School Goes to School
Arriving as a seventeen-year-old freshman at Wake Forest in 1993, Duncan was expected to spend most of his time on the bench his first season, but when the team's starting center was declared inelligible, Duncan was called upon to contribute right away. His first college game was played against the University of Alaska in Anchorage; it was the first time Duncan had ever seen snow. Although he didn't score during his first outing, it didn't take long for Duncan to establish himself on the defensive end. As a freshman, he averaged 9.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game and set a new Demon Deacon record for total single-season blocked shots.
During his sophomore year Duncan averaged 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He was named the National Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and Third Team All-American. Increasing his offensive production in his junior year Duncan continued to earn honors, including consecutive years as Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-ACC. Also as a junior he was named First Team All-American and the ACC Player of the Year. During his final year of college ball, Duncan led the nation in rebounds per game (14.7) and upped his scoring average to 20.8 points per game. Along with once again being named Defensive Player of the Year (for an unmatched third straight year), ACC Player of the Year, and First Team All American, Duncan was also selected as the National Player of the Year.
Duncan's talent was obvious to everyone, but for a long while his personality remained a mystery to many, including his teammates. His subdued nature, which bordered on aloofness, could be misconstrued as lack of intensity. But soon both his fans and foes realized that Duncan was extremely dedicated, focused, and enjoying himself, even if he didn't always look the part. Although he took winning and losing seriously, he refused to be goaded into confrontations on the court or in the media. He took care of business and proved himself with his play.
Although he would have likely been the number one pick in the 1995 NBA draft, to the delight of Demon Deacon fans, nineteen-year-old Duncan decided to pass up the possibility of a $3 million a year NBA contract to remain in college for his junior and senior years. Hopeful of their chances in the NCAA tournament, the Demon Deacons made it to the East Regional Finals in 1996 and suffered a disappointing second-round loss in 1997. Nonetheless, Duncan had established himself as one of the best to ever play four years of college ball. According Sports Illustrated, in 1997 Wofford coach Richard Johnson, whose well-overmatched team would face Duncan and the Demon Deacons the following day, told his players: "Let me tell you guys about who you're playing tomorrow. Someday your six-year-old kid will ask you for a Tim Duncan jersey for Christmas. This is your chance to play a future NBA Hall of Famer, your turn to face the greatest player any of you will ever meet."