Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Dylan Swingle hasn’t competed in a game this season. But he’s having the time of his life learning the ropes and getting ready for next year when his number does get called.
Swingle, a Paint Valley grad and current freshman at Duquesne University, finished his high school career with a county record 1,796 career points alongside 1,160 rebounds. After signing with the Dukes, he’s chosen to use his redshirt eligibility this winter.
When the 6-foot-11, 300-pound center does return to the court, after using this year to get used to life as a Division I college basketball player, he fully expects himself to contribute right away.
“Duquesne is great. My favorite part about being here is all the people I meet and the different places I get to experience,” Swingle said. “We have a really good team. I’m looking forward to next season when I can play. This year has been a great learning experience for me, though.”
Swingle, who’s majoring in Athletic Training, has been able to learn from and develop under Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot. Over the course of Dambrot’s 21-year coaching career, he has a record of 429-225 and has coached at Tiffin, Ashland, Central Michigan and Akron.
That success has spilled over to Duquesne, where Swingle says he thinks his Dukes are good enough to win a conference crown.
“Coach D is such a good coach because of how much he loves winning and the time he puts in,” Swingle said. “He cares and trusts his players. So far, we are 17-9 and 8-5 in the Atlantic 10. We have a good team and I think we have a good shot competing for the A10 championship.”
Also playing a role in that success is Waverly grad Jake Kretzer, who Swingle has a close relationship with. Kretzer serves as a graduate assistant at Duquesne after playing for Dambrot at Akron. During his time as a Zip, Kretzer scored 869 points and hit 213 3-point field goals.
“Our relationship is good,” Swingle said of Kretzer. “He has taught me many things since I’ve been here. He has helped me pick up concepts that I’ve had trouble understanding, as well as helping me with workouts and in the classroom.”
While Swingle has put much of his focus on his studies and improving everyday, he’s also had the chance to visit with family, friends and former Paint Valley coach Dave Shoemaker.
Those supporters, who have always been his number one fans, have made multiple trips to see Swingle in multiple cities.
“My family has been over many times. Even though I’m redshirting, they still want to be here to support me,” Swingle said. “Coach Shoemaker has been up a few times, too, as well as our assistant. My friends have visited me a few times as well.”
And, through the process, Swingle hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
Pittsburgh’s population is reported to be just above 300,000. That’s a far cry from Bainbridge, Ohio’s 860. But Swingle still has his eye on his alma mater along U.S. Highway 50.
“I have kept up with Paint Valley this season. I just saw the tournament seeding and I think they can make some noise,” Swingle said. “Paint Valley is always a tough team this time of the year.”
A year from now, you might be reading a different article … one that talks about Swingle’s successes on the court, as well as off the hardwood.
But for now, he’s learning every day, waiting for the chance to leave his mark, just like he did on his hometown and community.
Since closing his high school chapter, he’s comfortable with the beginning of the next installment in his life and he’s counting down the days until he’s able to get back to what he knows best.
“I love this city,” Swingle said. “I love being able to have things to do, basically, all the time. And [on the court], with my back to the basket, I feel like I’m strong enough to back defenders down in the post and I feel like I have a good touch around the rim. I’m looking forward to contributing next season.”
COVER PHOTO CREDIT: Brian McWalters/Duquesne Athletics