After all, it’s hard to pack 29 years of coaching and administration into a few paragraphs.
Region titles, state championships and Coach of the Year awards have been a common theme for the long-time Georgia high school basketball coach.
When it comes down to it, McDuffie’s career can be summed up in one word — winner.
McDuffie, 57, is now tasked with bringing those same winning ways to Walker High School. He was named to his new positions on Wednesday. He will serve as the Vikings’ head basketball coach, head tennis coach along with duties as an assistant principal.
“There are very few folks you have an opportunity to talk to who have got this kind of resume,” said Jasper City Schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman. “He’s got over 20 years of administrative experience. He was a five-time state champion in basketball and he brings an extensive tennis background to a school that has a great history in tennis. We are thrilled to have him here.
“In all the discussions I’ve had with people at the places he’s been, they all tell me that he’s a first-class gentlemen and he knows how to win basketball games.”
Walker Principal Gary Bolling played a large role in bringing McDuffie to Jasper. When Bolling served as principal at Valdosta (Ga.) High School, McDuffie was an assistant principal. Once Bolling made the move to Walker, McDuffie was promoted to principal at Valdosta. McDuffie retired after the 2011-12 school year, but is ready to get back to work in Jasper.
“Mr. Bolling sold me on Walker,” McDuffie said. “One of the main things that impressed me were the academics. The school is known for its academics. He also talked to me about basketball. He said they may not have enough talent to win a championship, but he thought with the right coach, they can be successful.”
McDuffie takes over the basketball program from coach Scotty Ware who stepped down after 10 years as the head varsity coach in late April. McDuffie inherits a team that has suffered three straight losing seasons and finished 6-17 last season.
In Georgia, McDuffie coached at three different high schools.
He had a 20-year stint at Mitchell-Baker High School (1982-2002) where he won five state championships (1990-91, 1998-2000). From there, he spent four years (2002-06) at Washington County High School where he won two region titles and made the playoffs each season. Most recently, McDuffie spent five years (2006-11) at Valdosta High School where he led the team to three region championships. His 2008-09 team was 28-2 and advanced to the state quarterfinals while his 2010-11 team was 23-6 and made the state semifinals.
McDuffie, who has averaged over 20 wins per year, is closing in on 600 career victories.
He was also an assistant principal at all three schools and the tennis coach at both Mitchell-Baker and Valdosta. McDuffie guided the Valdosta tennis team to the state final four three times.
McDuffie says his basketball coaching philosophy resembles that of coaches like Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV as well as Nolan Richardson during his time at Arkansas.
In other words, he likes to run.
“Up tempo, that’s the way I like to play,” he said. “It allows you to play more players. That makes for a happier team. If you hustle and play hard, you are going to get a chance to get in the game.”
On the defensive end, he also likes to push the tempo.
“I’ve always liked to press. We pressed on made and missed baskets. It may take a while to put all that in place,” McDuffie added.
He picked up tennis in college when he took a class while a student at Georgia Southern University. “I fell in love with tennis and started playing twice a day. When I was at Mitchell-Baker, they needed a tennis coach and I was the boys head coach,” he said.
During his tenure at Valdosta, McDuffie led the team to two region-AAAAA championships.
At Walker, the boys tennis team is the most successful athletic program at the school, racking up eight state championships and advancing to the state tournament 14 of the last 15 years.
Sparkman is excited about the future with McDuffie on staff.
“Very few people have accomplished what he’s done,” Sparkman said of McDuffie. “He’s coached at schools that had an enrollment of 400 and at a school with an enrollment of 2,000 and he was successful every year. Everybody that I talked to about his work history said he works kids hard — that’s how they get better — but he treats them well. He’s a role model. That’s what I want, somebody who is a role model and wins. He’s going to do a good job for us and we are excited to have him here.”