Village News Reporter
Brent Duke has been selected as Bonsall High School's new basketball coach.
"I'm just really excited. Hopefully we can build upon the success we've had," Duke said.
Chuck Colletti was Bonsall's coach from 2018-19 to 2021-22. "Colletti did a great job building character," Duke said.
Duke hopes to maintain Colletti's standards for the team. "I want to do it the right way with the right kids," Duke said.
The emphasis on the overall person standards doesn't negate Duke's on-court desires. "I want to win," he said. "I feel pretty confident we can do good things."
The only league championship in the program's history was in 2020-21, when Bonsall had an 8-0 Sierra League record as part of an overall 16-6 mark which included a CIF playoff win and a CIF playoff quarterfinals loss. The 2021-22 Legionnaires had an 8-12 overall record and were 3-5 in Patriot League play. The most recent team had four seniors including four-year players Emil Watkins and Nate Valera. "We have to try to replace Emil and Nate. That's a lot to lose," Duke said.
Duke was raised in Ojai and attended Nordhoff High School, which had approximately 1,000 students at the time. The 5'11" Duke was a point guard on the Rangers' basketball team and also played center field during the baseball season. In addition to playing for the school team, he was also a coach at summer basketball camps while in Ojai.
During Duke's student tenure at Stanford University, his team won the intramurals basketball championship. He also coached summer clinics at the University of San Francisco when Phil Matthews was the Dons' head coach. "He taught me a lot about basketball," Duke said of Matthews, who is currently the Riverside City College head coach.
Duke then moved to the Chicago area and was involved in stock options with the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He also met his wife, who is originally from northwest Indiana.
After living in the Chicago area for 14 years, Duke returned to California in 2014 and took his wife and two younger children with him. "The Bonsall school district was great and it turned out to be the best thing we've ever done," Duke said.
Brayden Duke is currently a Bonsall High School sophomore and was on the 2021-22 Legionnaires basketball team. Devin Duke is a Bonsall High School freshman and did not play basketball this year. Both Duke children ran cross country for the Legionnaires during the fall.
Brent Duke remained in the business-oriented sector after returning to California. "I'm pretty good at getting stuff done. I've been an entrepreneur for years," he said.
Duke let Colletti handle the leadership aspects of the Bonsall basketball program this past year although Duke kept statistics and announced games. That made Duke a candidate in other people's minds to replace Colletti.
"I was just approached and asked if I'd be interested in taking the position," Duke said. "It's something I feel I can do."
Coaching the basketball team was also something Bonsall athletic director Andrea Breuninger felt Duke could do. "Brent was very committed to the program for the last two years," Breuninger said. "He's been involved in going to all the games and attending the practices as a parent."
Before Duke had his own children, he coached youth teams which included family members of friends. "I've been coaching on and off for years," he said.
The knowledge of the program and the school, his past clinic and youth program coaching activities, and Duke's past administrative activity which is also part of a head coach's duty, makes Breuninger confident that Duke can make the transition to head coach. "He showed a lot of potential as a head coach, so we're excited to welcome him to the position and look forward to all he's going to offer the student-athletes in the future of our program," Breuninger said.
That will include a summer camp June 14-17 which will be free to Bonsall Unified School District students entering sixth through 12th grades.
"We're not going to win every game, but as long as we play our hardest and play the right way, I think the wins will come," Duke said.
"He's eager to get started and further develop the program and regain the competitive level the team was at when they were league champions," Breuninger said.
"I'm excited. I'm really looking forward to it, ready to get it going," Duke said. "I'm going to try to make the school proud."