His Americanization even manifests itself on the basketball court. Duany and Kueth, who remember the traumatic exodus from Sudan and were raised in a small apartment in Bloomington, played with a sense of urgency. The game was great fun for them, but they also recognized early that it could be a means of improving their lives. Bil has no recollection of hardship; by the time he was in middle school, the family had moved out of Tulip Tree to a modest home on Bloomington's west side, not far from the IU campus. And surely it's no coincidence that on the basketball court, he lacks the drive of his older brothers. Duany was a silky shooter who spent innumerable hours alone on the pockmarked Tulip Tree court, his jumper tracing a perfect parabola through the net. Kueth, the best athlete of the bunch, was a slasher able to manufacture offense. Bil is a taller and more athletic player, but his outside shot is suspect, lacking a consistent release point, and has clearly been neglected in practice. Last year, to his coach's dismay, Bil made barely half his foul shots. There was even some doubt that he'd close the family circle by earning a Division I scholarship--not because he lacked game but because, like a lot of American teenagers, he lacked resolve.
After a promising sophomore season at Bloomington North, Bil blew out both knees within the span of a few months. The reconstructive surgery was so extensive that he sat out his junior year and didn't even attend school lest he lose his eligibility. Partly because of the flashes of brilliance he had shown at AAU games and partly because of his family pedigree, Bil was still on recruiters' radar when he started his senior season. But the interested programs weren't on the level of Wisconsin, Syracuse and Georgetown. They were Creighton and Davidson and Nyagon's alma mater, Bradley. Bil, though, had intentions of "going big-time," as he put it, starting for the kind of school that plays on national television and sends players to the NBA. He declined the overtures of the smaller programs, confident that he'd tear things up during his senior year and catch the eye of a blue-chip school.
Wisdom can be hard-won when you're 18. While Bil played well as a senior and even, like his two older brothers, made the Indiana all-star team, he didn't distinguish himself enough for Roy Williams or Coach K to come knocking. Meanwhile the smaller schools filled their rosters, and Bil graduated with vague designs of attending a Connecticut prep school for a postgraduate year. Late in the summer, though, Samuels called. A slot had opened up at EIU. Would Bil like to join the Panthers? Samuels couldn't guarantee a starting spot, but he vowed that Bil would get minutes as a freshman and, better yet, play on the perimeter and not the front line. On the eve of the first day of classes Bil, more relieved and thrilled than he let on, accepted.
With two games left in the regular season, Bil is still a quintessential freshman. At times he has played marvelously; at times he has been a nonentity. Through Monday he was averaging 2.2 points and 11.4 minutes. "Bil has a chance to be a terrific player," says Samuels. "He's probably our best passer, and he's so long for a guard that he can create matchup problems. But he needs less And1 and more fundamentals. He needs to develop his work ethic and build strength. It's up to him."
Before the season Samuels met with Wal, who warned the coach that his youngest son could be "lackadaisical." Bil's four siblings have urged Samuels to be tough on their kid brother. Kueth says, "I've told Bil, 'People are going to know your name and get up to play against you. You have to be ready for every game.'" At this the fifth Duany offspring to play college ball playfully rolls his eyes and sighs.
"I can stand to work harder, but it has been a good season, I think," Bil says. "I got a chance to play, and I'll get a bigger chance next season. It's all good."
After a pause he says something that suggests he's heard the echoes from the family's homeland after all: "I mean, I'm getting an opportunity, and what more can you ask for?"