Chris Duarte lands Spalding® DI Player of the Year

Chris Duarte lands Spalding® DI Player of the Year

Northwest Florida State College sophomore guard Chris Duarte has been named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Men's Basketball Player of the Year.

Duarte averaged 19.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks a game this season in helping the Northwest Florida Raiders reach the Elite Eight in this year's NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

Duarte is the second Raider to earn this award, joining Chris Jones (2012-13), and he is the first Raider to earn the National Player of the Year honor under Head Coach Steve DeMeo.

"Chris is everything a coach wants in a student-athlete," said Steve DeMeo. "He is a great student, great person and a very special basketball player. Chris has really set the bar high here at Northwest Florida for all of our future Raiders, and I look forward to watching him grow and develop at Oregon and even beyond college."

The University of Oregon commit started every game for the Raiders this season, with some of his biggest games coming against top opponents. In the regional semifinal against top-ranked Florida SouthWestern, Duarte's 24 points led the team to a 69-68 come-from-behind victory.

He earned NJCAA First Team All-American honors earlier this week. Duarte was also named the Player of the Year in both the FCSAA/NJCAA Region VIII and the Panhandle Conference after leading the team to their second straight NJCAA Region VIII title and their fifth consecutive Panhandle Conference championship.

"Congratulations to Chris on this monumental achievement," said Dr. Devin Stephenson, president. "We are exceptionally proud of him and his decorated career as a Raider. We wish him nothing but continued success in the future"

Now Duarte heads to Eugene, where he will join head coach Dana Altman. The Ducks advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in this year's NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, losing 53-49 to eventual national champions University of Virginia.

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