An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
April 5, 2003 - Issue 84
Dugi, Justice and Curtis
Photos and story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer - TC District
this school year is over, reservation high school basketball hopefuls
will still be whispering three names. Dugi, Justice and Curtis.
City High has distinguished itself again this year by taking raw, local
basketball talent and serving it up Warrior style through Devin Dugi,
Michael Justice and Donnie Curtis.
Dugi, a senior and member of the Navajo Nation has recently been selected
All Arizona 1st Team by the Arizona Coaches Association and is a nominee
for the McDonald's All American Team. He is also is rumored to be up for
an additional award from the Arizona Republic.
Justice, also a senior, was named Honorable Mention All Conference for
the 3A North along with fellow teammate, Donnie Curtis, senior and member
of the Navajo Nation, who was selected to the Honorable Mention Team for
All Arizona by the Arizona Coaches Association.
Head Basketball Coach Earl Flaggs, who will be leaving Tuba City at the
end of this school year has nothing but high hopes and fatherly-like praise
for each his players. Flaggs said, "creating a profile and getting these
kids exposed to college-level ball" was just a part of his job.
Head Coach Flaggs first got to Tuba City, he said he was originally "nervous
about all the REZ dirt courts, but once he saw local Tuba City talent
play on a regulation court, he realized that kids out here, process their
talent and skills differently than inner city kids. They can multitask
with the best of them."
also said that when he leaves Tuba City, he will go away happy since part
of his success will have been to make his team and its players more publicly
visible and "that to me, is the mark of a successful program. I wanted
to put my stamp on the quality of players here in Tuba City and this has
been one of the true highlights of my time here."
Justice and Curtis could only echo their coach's aspirations and credit
Flaggs for their personal basketball success.
Dugi, who at 6'4", is the most heavily sought after basketball commodity
at Tuba City High, is mulling over his options for college. At press time
he had not made a final choice of his present scholarship offers as he
was planning on taking some time during the upcoming spring break to look
at another two colleges.
asked how big an honor and all this attention has been for him, Dugi said,
has been a bit overwhelming but Coach Flaggs and my Dad have been great
in advising me in long term considerations for my college career. One
of the things I learned this year was to distribute to my teammates and
to create shots for myself. As for the McDonald's nomination, it was really
an honor and fun to be recognized with names before me, like Ron James,
Kobe, Shaq and legend, Michael Jordan. This has motivated me to work harder.
While I need to gain some weight for more upper body strength, I know
with some work, I can get better."
felt that Dugi had a very special season and said, "Devin reminds me a
lot of Jamal Wilkes from the old Laker championship teams. Smooth, unlimited
range and the ability to score 32 points, have 12-13 rebounds, four or
five steals, and two or three blocks.
has not had very many off games in the past two years. This season he
backed the Warriors club with 23.5 points and contributed 8.0 rebounds,
3.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
is a local reservation basketball talent whose prior history in development
was playing PeeWee basketball and scrimmaging at home in Tuba City with
back to back State Championship players, like Lance and Lavar Martin,
Lloyd Billy, Josh Allen and James Justice, his older brother.
credits his Dad, Larry Justice and Coach Flaggs for his success. "Even
though my Dad enjoys and supports me in my basketball career, he reminds
me that life is more than that. I am lucky to have 6 siblings, a great
Mom and a family life that is preparing me for long term success. Coach
Flaggs has just added another part of that whole. It has been exciting
to be a part of Tuba City's basketball history."
was also asked who he admired in the professional leagues, "I like Kobe
Bryant. I have watched several ESPN specials on his style and see how
hard he works. I would like to apply that principle of hard work to everything
I do in life."
Dad, Larry, in a brief telephone interview said about his son, "What I
admire about Michael's basketball skill, is that in his four years of
high school he has gone to two State Championships and made the Final
Four. When I saw him make this year's final shot at Ganado that took the
Warriors over the top to go again, that was pretty exciting. But even
more, I like to see how he has taken his skills past the basketball court
and see his teammates as more than that. They are his best friends and
their camaraderie goes beyond the court. They grew up together and they
really see past the tribal and cultural barriers."
Curtis, 6'3", senior and member of the Navajo Nation has been selected
to the Honorable Mention Team for All Arizona by the Arizona Coaches Association.
interviewing Curtis, you can't miss the humility and thoughtful reflectful
that he exudes. Curtis is one of nine siblings, seven sisters and one
brother. His Mom, Coach Flaggs, and his uncle Marvin Hardy have been the
biggest influences in his basketball career.
mentions that his Dad left his family when he was really young, and without
that support, he didn't really get into basketball until his Junior year
when Coach Flaggs saw him play.
Flaggs, "I saw Donnie's early talent and couldn't believe that no-one
had jumped on it yet. He was hustling and hitting free throws with ease.
While some people were telling me that he couldn't play, I could tell
that he had something special. DC was blasting most of the other players
off the court. So the very first game, I told him, You're starting."
definitely has his own style. When asked what kind of practice regimen
he has, Curtis said, "I don't practice at home. I come to school and play
pick-up b-ball. Also when you go to the community courts, there are a
lot of local grownup men who have played in prior TC championship games
and they have helped me a lot. They show you what kind of mistakes you
are making and try to help you with your game. Also Coach Flaggs really
believes in me. This has made me want to try harder."
has several college offers on his plate and is already interested in pursuing
a career in sports medicine. He admires NBA star, Shaquille O'Neal for
his "dominance on the court." Curtis said, "I like that Shaq has that
dominant ability and that is what I want for myself, to dominate on the
court. I also like Rasheed Wallace's humor, he can trash talk with the
best of them, and even though I know I have career choices ahead of me
that have to be taken seriously, I also have to remember to have some
has a lot of weight on his shoulders serving as a role model to not just
area students but to his own brother and sisters as well. He hopes that
his own family members "remember to have a dream and just keep going for
it. Don't back down from it for anything. It's possible."
most exciting game was 3A North Regionals. "It felt really good to win,
because no-one thought we would make it. But our team believed in ourselves
and when we are together all the outside distractions just go away. We're
more than a team, we're like a family. "
said, " If I am eligible, I definitely want to play. But right now, I'm
sitting on top of a knee injury, since I am playing baseball and how quickly
it heals will determine my eligibility."
replied, "I got a call from the Chinle Coach today and I told him, definitely.
I want to play."
Dugi said he was planning on making a final selection of a college by the end of next week so that once he did, it would really be up to the college he signs with to make that decision but that he hopes that they allow him to play in that final high school tournament.
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