Saying Goodbye to Duje Dukan


Over the last 4-5 years, the Wisconsin Badgers have had a lot of success on and off the court. This can be attributed to the stellar play of seniors Frank Kaminsky, Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser, and Duje Dukan, along with junior Sam Dekker. While their Badger careers may have ended with a loss, the memories they gave to the fans will last a lifetime.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

They brought Bo Ryan and Wisconsin to back-to-back Final 4’s, won a Big 10 tournament and regular season championship, accumulated a total of 132 wins, and continued the Badger tradition of never finishing worse than 4th in the Big 10.

The graduating class took this basketball program to a height previously unimaginable, while representing the University with outstanding class. For the next couple of days, I’m going to write an article highlighting each Badger senior’s career, along with Sam Dekker, who recently declared for the NBA draft.

Up first was Josh “Captain America” Gasser. Now, it’s time to officially bid farewell to Duje Dukan.

Career Path: Duje Dukan came into Madison as a 3 star recruit, and the 46th ranked small forward in the class. However, it was a long time before he contributed meaningful minutes to the program. Like many Bo Ryan coached players, he played sparingly as a freshman.

The next year he only got into games in garbage time, never playing more than 11 minutes or scoring more than 4 points in a single game. In the fall of 2012, he suffered from mononucleosis, causing him to redshirt.

Finally, as a 4th year junior in 2013-2014, he played a bigger role off the bench, having his breakout games in the season opener against St. Johns, and the season finale against Kentucky. As a 5th year senior, his role on the team became very important, as he was the first forward off the bench. He averaged nearly 5 points per game in about 15 minutes, and was key in wins in the Battle for Atlantis and in the post-season.

Mar 20, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Duje Dukan (13) shoots against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 97 games, 10 MPG, 3.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 33% on 3-pointers

Career Summary: Duje Dukan played an absolutely pivotal role off the bench in both of Wisconsin’s final four trips. While his scoring averages may not show it, he was very effective at providing some instant offense.

He was the prototypical Bo Ryan big man, having the ability to shoot from the perimeter and drive inside. When he got hot, he could change the complexion of the game.

However, he was streaky. There were some games where he would explode and look like a star, but there were some games where he was practically invisible. He struggled on defense, and turned it over a lot, causing him to be a liability in some games.

But I will say this for Duje. He always played his best basketball when the team needed him most. In the 2014 final four game against Kentucky, he kept the team in the game all by himself in the second half, scoring 8 points. In the Battle 4 Atlantis the next season, he averaged about 11 points in 3 games against NCAA Tournament teams, all which made it to at least the Round of 32. He had 11 points in an overtime win against Michigan State in the Big 10 championship game. In the NCAA Tournament, he was a key piece off the bench, scoring 5 points in both the Elite 8 game and the National Championship.

So say what you want about his inconsistency or defense. He was an irreplaceable offensive spark off the bench for the Badgers over the past two seasons. Without Dukan, the dream runs we just witnessed may never have taken place.

 Best Memories:

  • Scoring a career high 15 points in his return game against St. John’s in the 2013-2014 season opener
  • Huge second half against Kentucky in the 2014 Final Four

Averaging 11 points per game in the Battle 4 Atlantis

Nov 26, 2014; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Wisconsin Badgers forward Duje Dukan (13) shoots during the game against the UAB Blazers at Atlantis Resort Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

11 points against Michigan State in Big 10 Tourney Finals

Pro Outlook: Obviously, Dukan won’t make an NBA or D-league roster. But he still can have a successful pro career in Europe. I could definitely see him playing in his native country of Croatia, or another small European country.

In Conclusion: Dukan won’t be remembered in the same light as many of the players on this Badgers team, but he was very important. His shooting off the bench provided major sparks for this team, especially in big games. His defensive struggles and inconsistencies drew a lot of criticism from the fan base, but his instant offense in key moments was more than enough to make up for it. Dukan was a very valuable member of both Final Four runs, and the depth and offense he provided off the bench will be difficult to replace.

Next: Saying Goodbye to Josh Gasser