Dugger making his mark at LMC

By Michelle Pope

   You often hear the horror stories of model high school students going away to college and becoming enveloped in the thrill of finally being free of that phrase, "as long as you live under my roof, you'll do things my way."
   Parties begin to have priority over class, and a nap sounds more appealing than practice.
   Former Unaka High student Aaron Dugger has proven that theory wrong while attending Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC on a basketball scholarship.
   "He's an outstanding young man. He has great character and he's outstanding in the classroom," said LMC head basketball coach Randy Unger, a man with a reputation for having a no-nonsense demeanor.
   A red-shirt freshman, Dugger has started in every game this season and is LMC's leading scorer by 81 points, with a cumulative total of 387. He's a threat to any opponent from the penalty stripe, shooting 81.9 percent.
   "He is going to be the leading scorer of all time in the conference," Unger said. "He's the best freshman in the league."
   Dugger plans to spend the next four years at LMC. "I thought about that already," Dugger said. "I plan on staying here."
   "Lees-McRae will win a lot of basketball games in the next three years," Unger added. "Division one missed out."
   As an education major, Dugger hopes to be able to coach someday. He manages to juggle a busy basketball schedule along with a major that also demands much of his time, and pulls good grades.
   "It's going pretty easy right now," Dugger said of his studies. "Coach gives us extra time to do classwork and stuff."
   Coach Unger considers Dugger to be a key offensive weapon on his team.
   "He's the ultimate team player," he said of Dugger. "He's got to score though. He's got to have the ball in his hands for us to be a good team."
   Although one might expect Dugger to be a ball hog from those words, Unger insists that he is very unselfish on the court.
   "They know if they give him the ball, he'll give it back," Unger said of the Bobcat team. "When a team loves a kid, you know he's a good player to have."
   As much as the team loves having Dugger as a teammate, Dugger loves being on the team.
   "I like it a lot," the 6'4" guard said. "We've got a really good offensive system, and I like the group of guys. We spend a lot of time together off the court as well."
   Coach Unger said Dugger doesn't take wild shots, but when he shoots, he scores.
   "He doesn't shoot 20 times a game," he said. "He'll shoot maybe 12 or 13 times a game, and he's an outstanding free throw shooter."
   In addition to being a menace on the hardwood, Unger said Dugger is just as dedicated in the weight room.
   "He's a hard-nosed gym rat," the coach said. "He's everything you want. He's a great kid and a great student."
   Dugger says much of his success is due to his years of playing for the Rangers.
   "Coach (Donald) Ensor does a really good job preparing you for the next level," he said. "I'm sure he's doing that for the three seniors who are there now."