Millis Basketball’s Jonathan LaDuke Keeps Focus on Improvement

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Junior Jonathan LaDuke keeps his focus on improvement, both personally and for his team. Although injury has held the team back this year, the varsity player looks forward to next. Photos by Steve Bassignani
Issue Date: 
March, 2019
Article Body: 

Having a dad who not only played basketball, but one who also coached the sport, it was inevitable that Millis’ Jonathan LaDuke would eventually pick up a basketball himself. The Millis native is now a junior and playing for the Mohawks varsity squad.
“I can’t recall watching him, but I do know that he kept asking me to try the sport. Around third grade, a bunch of my friends started to play, so I asked him if I could join – I could see that he was very excited,” LaDuke said. “I grew up playing baseball and soccer, but eventually moved away from those sports so that I could work and focus on my basketball skills.”
As an eighth grader, he decided to try out for the high school team, and although he had been playing the sport for a while, LaDuke found the tryouts a little tough as he was going up against kids who were at least a year older than he was. Skills prevailed, and he earned himself a spot on the freshman team.
It wasn’t easy.
“I made the team as a point guard, but a lot of my friends didn’t, so I was playing with a lot of kids I didn’t know,” he said. “I held my own against the kids who were bigger and more aggressive than I was used to. My first few games I was frazzled, but I settled down and eventually grew into high school basketball.”
Last winter as a sophomore LaDuke found himself suiting up for the Millis junior varsity team before getting called up to the big team mid-way through the season. Playing in his first varsity game against Ashland, LaDuke not only was able to score 11 points for the Mohawks, but he helped the team secure its first victory of the season. Millis would go on to win six more games that season with LaDuke.
Despite scoring 11 points against Tri Valley League foe Ashland, LaDuke does not consider himself a scorer.
“My goal is to pass first, but that game my teammates kept setting me up and luckily, I was hitting my shots,” the Millis point guard said.
Last winter, during his first varsity stint, LaDuke was excited about making the big time, but his main focus was to develop his skills and get better. Senior PJ Adams took the new comer under his wing and taught LaDuke to always be confident in himself and teammates while working hard on each and every possession. LaDuke took that to heart and is trying to install that same philosophy this season.
Unfortunately, Millis has had its share of injuries leading to up and down play throughout the season. Despite a mere four wins with only two games remaining on the regular schedule at the time of this writing, LaDuke is still looking to inspire his younger teammates.
“We’re not winning, but we continue to battle every game,” the junior said. “We don’t have that much varsity experience, so I’m hoping that we can build from that in the off-season and then be able to have a success season next year.”
With his first full varsity campaign coming to an end, LaDuke is looking to not only get stronger and work on his shooting and ball handling for a potential college career, he’s hoping that his teammates follow his example to get ready for next year.
“I consider myself to have a high basketball IQ and want to make the best play for the team, not myself,” he said. “I want to set the team up for success and hopefully next year we can do that.”