After two standout seasons at a powerhouse junior college in Alabama, Samson twin sisters LaTascya and LaTora Duff are moving up and moving out west.
The two announced on their respective Twitter accounts Monday plans to play the next two years at the University of New Mexico, a Division-I program in Albuquerque, N.M.
The two sophomores, who are both guards, have starred the last two years for Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa and head coach Madonna Thompson, helping the Buccaneers go 46-6 since joining the program.
LaTascya Duff, in her tweet, said “I would like to thank the man above for giving me this opportunity. I want to start off by saying this is an unbelievable opportunity for me and my twin.”
After thanking coach Thompson, Shelton State’s academic advisor Jessica Bates, her high school coaches, and “my #1 supporter, my mom,” Duff concluded by saying, “With that being said me and my twin will continue our academic and basketball career at the University of New Mexico.”
LaTora Duff had a similar tweet.
“I’ve had the chance to play basketball with my twin sister at the JUCO level, now I will be able to play with her at the D1 level,” LaTora Duff said. “Without God none of this would be possible. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and will continue supporting us through our journey.”
She concluded with, “This is a great opportunity for me and my sister and I am extremely blessed. With all that being said, me and my twin sister will further our academic and basketball career at the University of New Mexico. #GoLobos.”
Samson head basketball coach Chad McKnight, who coached the Duffs in high school, said the two visited New Mexico this past weekend and accepted the offer to play for the Lobos during the visit.
“The New Mexico coach said they were in need of experienced guards, so they were looking in the junior college ranks,” McKnight said Tuesday morning. “They saw them in a preseason tournament in Atlanta and really liked both of them.
“They offered both. It wasn’t a case of we want this one and we will take the other if we have to. They wanted both because they need a lot of guards.”
The Duffs won’t be able to sign with the Lobos until the April signing period.
“This is a good opportunity for them,” McKnight said. “They will get to play in one of the top arenas in the country in ‘The Pit.’ The coach at New Mexico said they rank in the top 10 in women’s basketball attendance, so they love their basketball out there.”
A member of the Mountain West Conference, the Lobos have a current record of 11-9 and 2-5 in the conference. They were 24-7 a year ago, including 14-4 in the conference, and reached the third round of the postseason NIT.
The twins have started all 19 games this season at Shelton State, which is 17-2.
LaTascya Duff, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard, is averaging a team-leading 15.5 points a game and has also posted 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She averages a team-high 23.5 minutes per game and is shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 35.9 on 3-pointers, and 76 percent at the foul line.
LaTora Duff, a 5-foot-7 point guard, is averaging 10.9 points per game, third best on the Bucs’ roster, and has a team-high 3.7 assists plus 2.2 steals per contest. She averages 22.2 minutes per game, second highest on the team, and is shooting 49.7 percent from the floor, 40.5 on 3-pointers and 75.0 from the foul line.
A year ago, the two helped Shelton State to a 29-4 record, a second-round NJCAA National Tournament game and an unbeaten mark in Alabama JUCO competition.
LaTascya Duff averaged 13.4 points a game as a freshman, while playing 20 minutes a game. LaTora Duff averaged 6.6 points per game in a tad over 14 minutes per game.
The two were standouts at Samson High School, helping the Tigers to two state titles in three years (2016 and 2018) and to a 139-12 record in their tenure on the varsity, which began in the middle of their eighth-grade season.
LaTascya Duff finished her Samson career with 2,893 points, 821 rebounds, 625 steals and 386 assists, earning Dothan Eagle Super 12 honors three straight seasons. She was the Dothan Eagle Player of the Year and the state Class 2A Player of the Year her senior year when she scored 1,030 (30.3 average a game), the most of any girls player in the state that year and the sixth most in AHSAA history. Included was a school-record 50 points against rival Geneva County.
LaTora Duff, despite missing most of her senior because of a knee injury, finished her career with 1,855 points, 604 rebounds, 481 steals and 403 assists.
She earned Dothan Eagle Super 12 honors both her junior and senior years. In her senior year, she averaged 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks a game in 15 games. She missed 19 games because of the knee injury.
The two finished their Samson career in style, combining for 56 of the Tigers’ 69 points in a 69-65 state championship win over Sand Rock. LaTascya, the tournament MVP, had 32 points, while LaTora had 24 points, her second most that season.