Former OSU Transfer Looks to Rebound After Shaky First Year in Burlington
Letâ€™s be honest, Duncan Demuth didnâ€™t exactly set the world on fire during his first season in Burlington. Nonetheless, the-soon-to-be junior forward should by no means be considered a bust. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy spent the majority of the year battling injuries, while growing acclimated to John Beckerâ€™s system, along with his new teammates. Along with big man Daniel Giddens, Demuth transferred-in to Vermont just a year ago. As a three-star recruit coming out of high school (per Verbal Commits) Demuth was a highly touted prospect for the Catamounts and was projected by many to dominate at the America East level.
While Demuth would flash at times, he ultimately struggled to find his footing and could never settle into a consistent part of the Catâ€™s rotation. Without a doubt Demuth has the talent and athleticism to compete at the division one collegiate level, but has yet to put it all together. Hailing from Seminole, Florida, Demuth strung together an impressive high school career in the sunshine state, where he was dubbed the 33rd best player in state (Floridahoops.com) and the 56th best forward in the nation (247sports.com). Besides Oklahoma State, Demuth garnered strong interest from many other high-end division one programs such as Florida State and South Carolina.
After a prolific high school career, Demuth would enroll at Oklahoma State, but his time in Stillwater would be short spent, as he elected to transfer to Vermont after his freshman season. Much like this previous year, Demuth struggled initially during his brief stint as a Cowboy. While his skills might not have been a good fit in coach Mike Boyntonâ€™s system, there were likely many other contributing factors that lead to Demuth switching schools that weâ€™ll never know about. At this point, Demuth represents a bit of an enigma. We all know he has the talent and is more than capable of finding success, but for some reason it just hasnâ€™t clicked yet for the young forward.
In all likelihood Demuth will be battling for that first forward spot off the bench this year, as Ryan Davis and former Northeastern Terrier Tomas Murphy are currently penciled in as the presumed starters. But Demuth will have plenty of competition. Isaiah Powell, Nick Fiorillo and incoming freshman Georges Lefebvre will all be looking to scrap and fight their way into the rotation. While it might not quite be a make or break year for Demuth just yet, heâ€™ll definitely need to prove and assert himself quickly before itâ€™s too late. Can Demuth rise to the occasion?
How Demuth can Make an Impact
Officially listed at 6â€™8, Demuth was brought in to help stabilize the frontcourt for Vermont. Heâ€™s an athletic and rangy forward whoâ€™s skills are best utilized as a stretch-four option. Demuthâ€™s impact on the team last year from an on-court perspective were rather miniscule, as he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season. Likewise, Demuth was still trying to adapt and grow acclimated to John Becker’s system, though the injuries definitely stunted his development. However, Demuthâ€™s presence from the bench was exceptional. Despite missing game action, Demuth would always rise to his feet after a big play, celebrating his teammates success.
Looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, itâ€™s difficult to pin-point the top ways Demuth will impact the team without knowing his role. If Demuth once again finds himself on the end of the pine due to recurring injuries then his biggest impact will likely be that of supporting his teammates through creative celebrations. On the flip side of the coin, if Demuth can stay healthy he should be able to secure a more significant role throughout the season. The latter is obviously the ideal scenario for the Cats, as Demuth would be able to provide solid minutes off the bench.
With Demuthâ€™s great blend of size and athleticism, he offers John Becker a phenomenal and creative mismatch option in both the post and wing spots. Although there wasnâ€™t much consistency last year, Demuth has shown the ability to hit the three-ball, along with a tenacity of holding his own down low. Showcasing a consistent range from beyond the arc, along with the ability to mix it up in the paint will be critical towards Demuthâ€™s minutes. Likewise, if Demuth can continue to progress on the defensive side of the ball as well, he could carve out a nice role as a â€œ3 & Dâ€ glue guy for the Cats.
During the early portion of the season John Becker will no doubt be experimenting and tinkering with different line-ups. Demuth, Powell, Lefebvre and to an extent Fiorillo will all have a chance to exhibit their skills and take control of that first forward off the bench role. Even if Demuth is unable to win that horse race right out of the gate, heâ€™ll still need to stay focused and prepared, as injuries or various match-ups could change the rotation at a moment’s notice. Demuth hasnâ€™t been the only Catamount big to be bitten by the injury bug. It seems unrealistic to expect a clean bill of health across the board for the Catamounts next year and even if itâ€™s only some minor bumps and bruises, Demuth, along with the rest of the team need to stay ready. The young forward gives the Cats a great depth piece and his impact off the bench should be his most significant contribution come winter.
Room for Improvement?
The curious case of Duncan Demuth. Typically youâ€™d expect a tall, rangy and athletic three-star recruit to outperform themselves at the America East level right from the get-go. Watching Demuth play you can catch glimpses of why the young forward was thought of so highly, yet for some reason the Seminole native just hasn’t been able to consistently put all the pieces together. Dealing with nagging injuries definitely hasnâ€™t helped either and has undoubtedly stunted Demuthâ€™s progression through the years. For Demuth, his utmost area of emphasis should be focused around his confidence.
While at OSU, head coach Mike Boynton essentially called out Demuth over his lack of availability while he was working his way back from injury. To play devil’s advocate, Mike Bonyton has the right to be frustrated that Demuth wasnâ€™t medically cleared to play or practice. Most coaches, John Becker included, put plenty of stock into who works the hardest during practice and will often merit playing time based on their practice performances. Even though we donâ€™t know the extent to which Demuth was actually injured, public statements such as those can often affect a players psyche. The mind can be a powerful ally or dangerous foe. Conversations and statements such as these could subconsciously be effecting Demuth and theoretically become a root cause for potential struggles.
Getting stuck with a case of the yips is incredibly detrimental towards a players confidence. Itâ€™s hard to shake off, as any mistake or error is magnified and seemingly insurmountable in the moment. For Demuth to break out this headfunk, heâ€™ll need to find a way to gather and compose himself whenever he starts overthinking himself. For some people this can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, while others might need years of practice before they find a technique suitable for them. By taking a small step away Demuth could ultimately be taking a giant step forward. Time to enjoy the offseason and start a new chapter.
There are few goals that Demuth should be striving towards this season. For starters, the ability to stay healthy throughout the year should be near the top of the list. Now obviously there could always be an unlucky break, but with a proper strength and conditioning regimen in place, Demuth should be able to participate in every practice and game. The best ability is availability and Demuth needs to prove that he can handle the extended workloads.
As of this moment the Catamounts rosters sits at 16. Potential injuries and mismatches might alter the rotation slightly, but for the most part it wonâ€™t vary heavily, as John Becker will look to gameplan for a ten-man rotation. After appearing in only 20 contests just a season ago, one of Demuthâ€™s goals should be seeing floor action in every game of the year. The aforementioned injuries and opponent matchups could affect Demuthâ€™s minutes slightly, but if he can crack the ten-man rotation on a nightly basis it will do wonders for his development.
From a statistical standpoint Demuth needs to bump up his shooting percentage. A 30% from the field and 23% from deep isnâ€™t going to cut it. Some of the poor shooting could be attributed to the mental yips or lack of reps from practice. When players get nervous or start overthinking it can lead to rushed and uncontrolled shots. For Demuth he just needs to play at his tempo and gather himself before attacking with the ball. Donâ€™t feel the pressure to take every shot, just the right ones. His goal should be to increase both shooting outputs by 10% for next year, as 40% from the field and 33% from deep would be phenomenal improvement.
Finally, just having patience and trusting in the coaching staff that his time will come should be on Demuthâ€™s list for next year. This is another deep Vermont team with NCAA Tournament aspirations. If Demuth slips down the rotation he shouldnâ€™t feel discouraged with himself. Keep working hard day-in and day-out and eventually youâ€™ll be rewarded. Itâ€™s a long and strenuous season. Demuth has all the talent, now itâ€™s just about putting it all together consistently. One of these days itâ€™s going to click and when that happens, watch out America East.
Last year Demuth would cap the season with 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game average on 10.2 minutes per contest basis. Not exactly the dominant performance some fans were predicting. Nonetheless, year two in Vermont for Demuth should be much better. As an upperclassman and a year of experience in John Beckerâ€™s system under his belt, Demuth will have the chance to showcase his improvement from the offseason. Besides Demuth, Isaiah Powell will likely be given the first opportunity to win that first forward off the bench role. However, even between that two-man race, their respective skill sets vary and John Becker will assumingly try to create mismatches based on who can better take advantage of this.
For Demuth, his minutes and role could go either way. If he can stay healthy and find his groove then heâ€™ll without a doubt be a consistent part of the rotation throughout the year. On the flip side, if he struggles coming out of the gate and Powell, along with freshman Georges Lefebvre start to outplay him, itâ€™ll be a deep hole to climb back out of. For now letâ€™s assume his role lies somewhere in the middle of those two options. Even if Demuth isnâ€™t featured heavily, his statistical outputs should still see a bump in production after a year of growing accustomed to Vermontâ€™s style of play. Hereâ€™s hoping this is the year Demuth can make the leap.
2020-21 Statistical Predictions
- 12.2 minutes per game
- 3.8 points per game
- 1.0 assists per game
- 3.1 rebounds per game
“The curious case of Duncan Demuth” indeed. I was delighted when I learned last year that his appeal for immediate eligibility had been approved. In retrospect, a sit-out and practice year would have been the best preparation for Vermont basketball that he could have had. If last year was a case of the yips, then that would be a very positive diagnosis. The alternative explanation would be that his HS success must have come against inferior opposition and masked the fact that he really doesn’t have much game. All that said, he’s 6-8 and athletic. That should provide value in the AE. His development or lack of development in 2020-21 is one of the most compelling questions for the coming season.