Even after the sun had set and the lights turned off in their Toronto neighbourhood, a young Duane Notice was getting ready for another practice session. Darkness often signals the conclusion of a day’s activities. Not for Duane. The Toronto, Ontario native would begin an intense stretch of shooting hoops that would last well into the night. His brother, Marcus, would join him when he was older, introducing nightly “one-on-one” matchups that became fixtures of their childhoods.
“My parents built the basketball net for me on the driveway,” recalls Duane Notice over the phone this week. “I would shoot hundreds of baskets night after night, barely getting any sleep.”
Preparation and repetition. The ingredients that fuel an athlete’s motivation to succeed. In order for Notice to fulfill his dream of playing professional basketball, he needed to work harder than his peers. Those countless hours developing a jump shot in his parents’ driveway instilled a work ethic that is central to the makeup of Notice as a basketball player and as a person.
Duane Notice is now entering his second season in the NBA’s G League, kicking off Friday night. Playing for his hometown Raptors 905, Notice looks to play a veteran role on a team eager to continue the winning ways of its professional counterpart, the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
Throughout the Raptors championship run, Notice was fortunate enough to attend several playoff games. He even ventured into Jurassic Park, soaking in the raucous atmosphere of the Raptors fan base.
As Notice describes, seeing the city “all on the same page supporting the Raptors was inspiring.”
“To witness basketball being played at such a high level, from a variety of Raptors players, motivates me to be a better player and teammate on the floor,” said Notice.
When Jeremiah Quinn first saw Notice, he noticed how Duane “possessed the body of a full back, who knew how to play the game and wear opponents down.”
Quinn, known as ‘Jere,’ is the head basketball coach at St. Thomas More Postgraduate Preparatory School in Oakdale, Connecticut. A school of 120 students, St. Thomas More prides itself on its storied history of producing professional athletes.
Throughout his head coaching tenure dating back to 1978, Quinn has developed a reputation of recruiting and moulding top-level talent. Currently, 30 former St. Thomas More players are playing professionally in either the NBA or the G League, including Andre Drummond and Eric Paschall.
When recruiting players, Quinn places an emphasis on bringing in people from all over the world. This in turn elevates the global brand and status of the school as an institution that only offers a competitive basketball program but also a high-quality education.
“We try to put together an eclectic group of kids from different backgrounds,” said Quinn. “We have been fortunate to have great relationships with Canada Basketball for years. It started in 1992 when we recruited Charles Midland. And it continued when Duane joined our team.”
Given that Notice was a postgrad when he arrived at St. Thomas More, it forced him to adapt a “sense of urgency” style of play. The unafraid, intense brand of basketball that Notice brought to the court at St. Thomas More increased his chances to be recruited by Division I Programs.
It wasn’t difficult for the Canadian to solidify this mentality. It is a part of his DNA.
“I thrive on the intensity,” says Notice. “I want to be that guy, impacting the game in big ways or small ways.”
No greater example of this than when Notice faced the National Press School and Fort Union Military Academy. In both matchups, as the game wore on, Notice got stronger, never appearing phased by the boisterous crowds or big stages.
“That’s Duane’s nature,” admits Quinn. “He is going to compete in every game. Against National Press and Fort Union, his made shots took over the games for us.”
While Notice was averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists for St. Thomas More, he became a more discussed prospect among Division I schools. When Matt Figger saw the young Canadian play, he immediately placed a phone call to his boss, Frank Martin, the head coach of the University of South Carolina basketball team.
“I saw a guard that you absolutely are going to love,” Figger said to Martin.
Martin proceeded to place a call to his dear friend and coaching colleague, Jere Quinn at St. Thomas More. The praises for Notice continued.
“Jere told me, “Frank he is your kind of guy,” remembers Martin. “He was shocked that with Duane’s work ethic and talent, he wasn’t sought after by recruiters more intensely.”
The rest of the country passing over Notice was Coach Martin’s gain, as the guard decided to commit to play for South Carolina in the class of 2017. Over the course of four years, Notice became the integral asset for South Carolina’s defensive identity.
“He was the heart and soul of our defensive attack,” said Bruce Shingler, assistant coach for South Carolina’s basketball team. “Whenever the top players on opposing teams were on the floor, Notice would be tasked to defend the primary ball handler.”
But Notice’s time at South Carolina was not without adversity. In his junior year, South Carolina recruited now-Denver Nuggets shooting guard PJ Dozier. Evident that Dozier would not give up his starting role, Martin had no choice but to bring Notice off the bench.
“When I told Duane that he would be coming off the bench, he stared me in the eyes and said, “whatever you need,” said Martin. “In an age where self-production is vital, Duane forwent individual stats to take any role necessary that would help the team win.”
What would follow laid the foundation to bring South Carolina into College Basketball relevance. Coming off the bench would prove to be a worthwhile strategy for Notice, who would win the Sixth Man of the Year averaging 11.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The following year, despite numerous injuries and suspensions to start the season, the glue to hold the Gamecocks team together was Notice.
Martin admits that during Notice’s senior year, the team got its spirit back, despite losing to their SEC rival University of Florida 81-66 late in the season. The NCAA Tournament would be a sensational Cinderella story, defeating perennial college basketball programs along the way to their first Final Four in school history. Notice scored 17 points in the team’s upset of Duke 88-81, and he eventually propelled the team over Florida 77-70 in the Elite Eight to advance to the Final Four.
Despite losing to Gonzaga in the National Semifinals in 2017, Notice credits the tournament run in shaping his decision to pursue basketball full-time.
“The March Madness solidified that basketball was what I wanted to do,” said Notice. “Playing basketball against top programs on big stages like Madison Square Garden, it was all very rewarding.”
The same year Notice was making a run to the Final Four, the Raptors 905 won its first G League championship. It was a significant moment that proved the investments Raptors ownership made in developing talented players had paid off.
Last season with the Raptors 905, Notice averaged 10 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 47 games played. Having made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, the 25-year old is looking to embrace the experienced veteran persona in order to sustain the winning culture.
“I want to be a vocal leader, who inspires my teammates and holds them accountable when necessary,” says Notice when asked about his goals for this season. “I also want to develop more offensive weapons and consistency.”
According to Martin, while Notice demonstrates physical defense and has the ability to shoot, his decisions off the dribble need to improve. If he can play off the dribble, go small and spread the offense, then Notice can attack the basket with conviction, generating more offensive production.
The success of Notice points to a growing rate of Division I schools, like South Carolina, actively seeking out Canadian basketball hopefuls. If it weren’t for Notice laying the blueprint of a winning identity at South Carolina, it is unlikely Frank Martin would have been able to recruit Brampton, Ontario native AJ Lawson.
“Because of Duane’s experience here, we harnessed this in our pitch to AJ,” said Martin. “We’ve recruited in Canada before. But having an example like Notice to illustrate was a major contributing factor in Lawson coming to play for us.”
Wherever Notice has gone, success has followed. This is in large part due to his supportive parents, Suzette and Clive Carr and Paul and Nordia Notice. In an era where a young person growing up with one parent is common, Notice having four that believed in his basketball talent speaks to the connectedness of his family.
“When I step out on the court, I play harder because I want to make my family proud,” said Notice.
When Bruce Shingler first arrived as an assistant coach in South Carolina, there were certain drills that Martin was running which were foreign to him. It was Notice who eased Shingler into the assistant coach role, giving him pointers on how things were done at South Carolina.
On or off the court, Notice has proven to be the heart of the teams he has played for. Though already a veteran at 25 years old, there is much more to be written in Notice’s basketball career, for example a potential call up to the NBA. Notice has been under-recruited during his whole career, but that hasn’t stopped him from thriving. His latest home, the Raptors 905, is thrilled to have him as part of the program. He’s trained for success, at whatever level.
The hope is that the long, sleepless nights shooting hoops in his childhood driveway will continue to pay off.