McDuffie draws inspiration from his father


Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie stretches before their game against Catawba on Oct. 30, 2018 at Koch Arena.

Markis McDuffie has played for some legendary coaches, including Bob Hurley and Gregg Marshall. But one coach will always take McDuffie’s top spot — his dad.

“My dad’s been raising me since I was little,” McDuffie said. “It’s more than just basketball. He made me who I am today.”

Who is McDuffie today? He’s one of two seniors on the WSU basketball team. He’s established himself as a key member of the team by always being a solid, reliable player. He’s looking to get back on NBA Draft boards this season. He’s about to finish his sports management degree. And through it all, his dad has been by his side.

“My dad always texts me — always talks to me after every game, after every practice,” McDuffie said. “We’re always chopping it up about basketball and what I need to do to get better and be the best player and person I can be.”

There’s a lot of overlap between player and person, McDuffie said. What happens on the court affects what happens off the court, and vice versa.

“Basketball is more than a game,” McDuffie said. “It’s a lifestyle. When you play the game of basketball, not only does it affect you on the court, but it affects you off the court in terms of how you carry yourself.”

The way McDuffie carries himself, he said, is with both swagger and effort. He will always give effort, because he’s been blessed with the opportunity to play.

“If you’re not showing effort, then why you out there? There’s so many guys that wish to be in my position — that wish to have my height, that wish to have my skill,” McDuffie said. “This was God-given and hard work. Every single day, I love the game, and that swagger, that love, that smile, that enthusiasm, that energy — I bring it to the game.”

McDuffie began studying basketball as a kid in Paterson, New Jersey. He watched pickup games at parks and analyzed what players did wrong and what they did right.

“That’s what inspired me to be the best I can be,” McDuffie said. “And I’m still trying to get better.”

Studying the game, coupled with his dad’s mentorship, has made McDuffie want to be a coach someday.

“I love kids, and I love coaching kids,” McDuffie said. “I like making kids better. It’s great when they tell you, ‘You’re my favorite, and I learned a lot from you.’”

Leaving an impact on people — specifically on kids — has been what McDuffie loves most about playing at WSU, he said.

“When kids tell me they have a certain type of illness, and meeting me would mean a lot, those are proud moments for me,” McDuffie said. “That means a lot when someone’s been watching you every single day. You never know who’s watching.”

WSU fans will be watching McDuffie closely this year as the undisputed leader of a team full of freshmen. McDuffie said he’s just going to keep playing and judge his performance later.

“I’m looking forward [to my final season], because I know it’s going to end fast,” McDuffie said. “But I try not to think about it everyday. I stay day-to-day. I’m a day-to-day guy, you know. We got some games to play. We ain’t even start the season yet. I’m ready for the season first.”