The writing was on the wall, but the decision came sooner than expected.
Duquesne junior guard Mike Lewis II, the team's leading scorer in each of the past two seasons, has elected to transfer away from the program, according to multiple reports. Lewis came into the season as one of the Dukes' two returning starters, but his role on the team has diminished with the emergence of freshmen and transfers who were recruited to the program by second-year coach Keith Dambrot.
The transfer was first reported by Stadium's Jeff Goodman, who tweeted about Lewis' prolonged shooting slump.
Duquesne junior guard Mike Lewis told @watchstadium that he is transferring out of the program. Averaged 14 per game his first two years, production dipped this year to 5.6 ppg.
In addition to having his scoring drop to 5.6 points per game — a result of just 38.3 percent shooting from the floor — Lewis has played just 16.8 minutes per game, eighth on the Dukes (9-3).
Lewis already appears on the NCAA's transfer database, making him the second player to leave the Duquesne program in recent months. Leonard Randall II, who orginally transfered from Memphis to Duquesne, announced his decision to leave the team during preseason and late committed to Tennessee-Martin.
Lewis' departure comes with one game remaining — Dec. 31 vs. New Jersey Institute of Technology — before the Dukes begin Atlantic 10 play. It will free up more minutes for players such as Frankie Hughes, Tavian Dunn-Martin and Lamar Norman Jr., all of whom have spent some time at shooting guard this year. The junior from St. Louis was recruited to the Dukes by former coach Jim Ferry, and he finishes his time on the Bluff just 21 points short of 1,000 for his career.
After the Dukes' last game, an overtime win over Eastern Kentucky in which Lewis played just seven minutes, I askedDambrot about Lewis, who returned to the bench after halftime in sweatpants and did not re-enter the game.
"He's not injured, I just thought it was a tough game. We had to play more of our ball-handling guards — that's why I didn't play Lamar (Norman) as much, either — but we had to play more of our ball-handling guards to handle the pressure," Dambrot said.
"I feel bad. I like Mike Lewis as a person, I like him as a kid, he's a great human being, but I can't let any of that affect me. That's the hard part about this job, I have to play who I think can help us win the game."