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Duquesne

In wake of success, ex-Duquesne forward Isiaha Mike regrets transferring

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, 11:51 a.m.
Duquesne's Isiaha Mike chases a loose ball with St. Louis' Austin Gillman in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Duquesne's Isiaha Mike chases a loose ball with St. Louis' Austin Gillman in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Duquesne's Mike Lewis II drives against St. Louis' defenders in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Duquesne's Mike Lewis II drives against St. Louis' defenders in the first round of A-10 Men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paint Arena, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Duquesne's success isn't going unnoticed by someone who could have been a big part of it.

Isiaha Mike, who averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Dukes as a freshman last season, transferred to SMU when former coach Jim Ferry was fired 11 months ago. While sitting out the season due to NCAA transfer rules, he recently facetimed with Duquesne sophomore Mike Lewis and expressed regret he didn't decide to remain on the Bluff.

“He said, ‘Man, I wish I stayed,' ” Lewis said after practice Friday morning. “I said, ‘It's OK. You're still my brother. I still love you.' ”

But Lewis also allowed himself to play the what-if game in his mind.

“If we had him, our season would have been even more special,” he said.

Coach Keith Dambrot, who replaced Ferry, led the Dukes to 15 victories through January, five more than they collected all of last season. He said he doesn't know Mike especially well, but he's seen players at Akron, his previous team, wish they hadn't transferred from his program.

“I feel bad because young people make decisions sometimes based on things they don't know,” Dambrot said when told of Mike's remarks. “We had a couple kids at Akron, same thing. They said, ‘I didn't realize until ...'

“They get twisted and manipulated. What happens is parents, people who are around them, they don't really know. They only see what they think is best for the kid. They only see the immediate gratification.

“I don't really know Isiaha Mike, so I can't really comment on him, but from guys that I had before, they've come back sometimes and say, ‘I made a bad decision.' ”

Dambrot said Mike is “a talented guy,” but he could not predict how his presence would have impacted this season's team.

“How it affects chemistry, how it all pieces together. (But) talent-wise, I'm usually pretty good with talented guys.”

What did make an impact with Dambrot was Lewis' decision to stay when he had opportunities to transfer, especially with him leading the team in scoring (15.9 points per game).

“For Mike Lewis to stay, he had to be special because you have to see beyond the trees. ‘Am I willing to take another year of possibly losing for my overall development?' Most guys can't do that.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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