Dut has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers this season

Jason Malloy
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A UPEI Panthers rookie is finding multiple ways to help his team win basketball games.

Take Saturday night at home against the Saint Mary's Huskies for example.

Dut Dut (pronounced Doot Doot) hit a three-point shot on the team's first possession. With the Huskies making a second-half run, Dut took a charge to swing momentum as the Panthers won to improve to 6-2 in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season play.

"I wanted to come out with fire against that team because they just beat us the (previous) week," Dut explained before a recent practice while wearing a shirt that said BEAST on the front.

"Coach is always on me about getting charges," he said with a smile, "so I'm like, let me just get this one for coach."

At six-foot-six and 240 pounds Dut is hard to miss on the floor. The fact his wingspan is about seven feet doesn't hurt either.

"He's a big strong kid," head coach Tim Kendrick said. "He's willing to do whatever he needs to do to help us win."

Dut has given the Panthers an inside presence missing in recent years.

"He's a great addition to the team," forward Brad States said. "He's way more than what we expected. He can shoot from outside, he can take it down low and he's a lot quicker than people might think.

"We love having him on the team. He's like a brother now."

No one may have been impacted more by Dut's presence than States. Last year, the forward would get the assignment of playing against one of the other team's biggest and strongest players. States performed well, but he has more favourable matchups this season.

"It helps me a lot, so I don't have to deal with all the big guys now," States said. "I just send Dut on them."

Dut's outside shooting ability keeps teams honest, Kendrick said, which opens up driving lanes for his teammates.

"He has been better than we thought he would be," said Kendrick. "I didn't realize he was as good offensively as he's been."

Dut played for former Panthers assistant coach Patrick Havard at Crandall for a year but committed to the Panthers last summer.

"It was a nice school. It had a nice facility," Dut said about why he chose UPEI. "Everyone on the court looked like they were having fun."

Dut was born in Sudan and moved with his family to Ottawa when he was six years old. He is one of the middle children among five sisters and an older brother.

Dut said his parents decided to come to Canada to give their children better educational opportunities. He now has a marketing diploma from his two years at Algonquin College in Ottawa and is working on his business administration degree at UPEI.

"Get my education and play ball as long as I can, that's what I want to do," said the 22-year-old.

The Panthers host the Acadia Axemen (6-3) for two games Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. They dropped a pair of games in Wolfville, N.S., to end 2015. Both teams are in a four-way tie for first place with 16 points. UPEI has a game in hand.

"I just don't feellike Acadia have seen our best effort yet," Kendrick said. "Hopefully, they will Friday night and Saturday night."

  

By the numbers

8 – Regular season games played

8.9 – Points per game

6.6 – Rebounds per game

1 – Assists per game

Organizations: Algonquin College, Panthers, Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: Saint Mary, Ottawa, Sudan Canada Wolfville Acadia

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