Follow the leader: Blue Devils continue growth in win over Luther 

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

Austin grad Buai Duop is starting to get a picture of what college basketball is like and he can thank one of Riverland’s lone players with experience for that image.

Savier McCall, a sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, led the charge for the Blue Devil men’s basketball team as they beat Luther College 85-56 in Riverland Gym Thursday.

McCall stands at just 5-feet, 11-inches tall but he did most of his scoring in the paint on Thursday and he was also highly active on defense, even when RCC’s lead ballooned in the late minutes.

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“Coming back as a captain is a bigger role for me. We have a lot of younger guys and I’ve taken Buai under my wing because I see so much potential in him. We have a lot of other good guys too and we have potential to go far,” McCall said. “You’ve got to be physical and play with some heart. As a smaller dude, you’ve got to be able to score multiple ways and that’s going to show.”

Duop was also hustling until the final minute and he finished with four points and five rebounds in what was his third ever college basketball game.

“It’s been a big jump for me and it’s been nice to have guys like Savier here to guide me,” Duop said. “It’s different from last year. We’re in the weight room every day and it’s a much more physical game.”

RCC head coach Derek Hahn knows that McCall will be one of his leaders throughout the season and he’s glad to see other players like Duop starting to step up.

“Every team that we run into is going to have guys that had success in high school in some way shape or form and if you can’t play defense, you can’t play,” Hahn said. “We’ve got a good team here, but we’re young and inexperienced to some extent. If we continue to build the chemistry and continue to build the IQ, this team has a pretty good ceiling.”

Duop is still playing basketball in the town he grew up playing in, but he has a whole new cast of teammates this season. Hahn said Duop is fitting in great.

“The guys really like him and he’s got one of those beaming personalities,” Hahn said. “There are times where if the play doesn’t equate we see a different side of him and we want to try to get rid of that a little bit, but he’s a great guy to have. The more he will fit into his role, I think he’s really going to excel for us.”

RCC (2-1 overall) trailed 15-9 early on when Damar Jenkins, a freshman from Mayowood, Illinois, caught fire and hit three three-pointers over a three-minute stretch to give his team a 22-20 lead.

Kelvin Harris added nine points and nine rebounds for the Blue Devils.

RCC will host Bethany Lutheran at 7 p.m. Monday.

“We want to get more people out to these games and get support from the Austin community, because it’s going to be a show,” McCall said.

Luther 28  28  –  56

RCC 36  49  –  85

RCC scoring: Savier McCall, 16; DeWayne Thompson, 14; Damar Jenkins, 12; Daeshawn Jackson, 10; Kelvin Harris, 9; Nazih Chehade, 7; Buai Duop, 4; Jose Yepez, 2; Christian Campbell, 2