By Rick Cleveland
Michael Clarke Duncan, who earned an Oscar nomination for his memorable performance in The Green Mile, died Monday at the age of 54.
Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame basketball coach Davey Whitney remembers Duncan as a power forward on his 1983-84 Alcorn basketball team that won the SWAC championship and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament, beating Houston Baptist before losing by one point to Kansas.
“He was a good athlete, a good player,” Whitney said. “He made our team and he played, so he had to be a pretty good athlete. We had a helluva team. What I remember is he was a fun, very likeable guy, big and strong with a deep voice.
“He was a smart guy. One thing I remember is that he didn't smoke or drink.”
Duncan played only one season at Alcorn before returning home to help his ailing mother in Chicago, where he literally dug ditches before going to Hollywood.
Yes, Whitney said, he did see The Green Mile, in which Duncan played the role of John Coffey opposite Tom Hanks.
Said Whitney, "I thought he stole the show."