LeChaun DuHart. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine athletics

LeChaun DuHart’s knowledge of Maine before he accepted a scholarship offer from University of Maine head coach Richard Barron in April was limited to the quality of its seafood.

While he’s still waiting for the chance to sample those delicacies, he’s already been making his mark since he transferred to the Orono campus from Western Wyoming Community College.

“I’d actually never been to Maine before,” said DuHart, a freshman guard on the Black Bear men’s basketball team from Aurora, Colorado. “It’s been mostly the West Coast for me.”

The 5-foot-11 DuHart is the current America East Rookie of the Week after averaging 13.7 points in the Black Bears’ first three games of the season, including a game-high 19 points Tuesday during a 78-62 loss at Boston College.

DuHart was red-hot from the perimeter early in the Boston College contest, making five of seven 3-point shots during the first half against the Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

DuHart shot 50 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 77.8 percent from the free-throw line, while becoming the first UMaine men’s basketball player named AE Rookie of the Week since Andrew Fleming in February 2017.

As of Thursday, DuHart ranked eighth among America East scorers, fifth in field-goal percentage, fourth in 3-point percentage, third in minutes played per game (34.3) and first in 3-pointers per game (3.3).

“Regardless of who’s in the game our coach expects our guards to be able to make shots and our bigs to be able to open it up for our guards and play inside-out as well as scoring from the inside,” DuHart said.

He was part of a three-guard lineup with sophomore Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish and freshman Adefolalrin “Fofo” Adetogun.

DuHart’s shooting accuracy is similar to last winter at Western Wyoming, where his team finished 30-4 and won the National Junior College Athletic Association Region IX championship to qualify for the NJCAA national tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He shot 47 percent from the field, 83 percent from the free-throw line and 42.4 percent from 3-point land for the Mustangs, with that long-range marksmanship certainly attractive to a UMaine program seeking to boost its league-low 28.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc last season.

“It’s something I’ve always had to work on being a little bit shorter than a lot of the other guards,” said DuHart, who was named to the 2020 NJCAA Region IX All-Tournament Team. “For me it’s been, ‘How am I going to get my shot off against people who are taller than me?’ I’m always trying to figure out ways to expand my game, but then again that comes with more experience.”

DuHart’s play at Western Wyoming — which came after a year at Division II Cal State-San Bernardino where he scored just seven points in 14 games — caught UMaine’s attention last winter, but the recruiting process quickly went virtual after COVID-19 arrived.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the team play because I was busy with what was going on at Western [Wyoming],” he said. “They offered me visits but I couldn’t come down until after the tournament, and unfortunately with COVID everything got canceled.

“I was able to Zoom with coach Eddie [Edniesha Curry] and all the coaches, and I just really liked what they had to offer. I felt like it was something I hadn’t experienced before and a great opportunity.”

UMaine had its first five non-conference games canceled this fall and did not tip off its season until last weekend due to the pandemic — and the Black Bears still have not played at home.

But in two games at Hartford and one at Boston College — opponents that had played a combined 11 games before facing UMaine — DuHart saw progress if not victory.

“We’ve been constantly going against each other in practice, but when you do that you don’t know what all of your strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “But to go out and get game-time experience against other teams — we have quite a few new players on the team including myself and this gave us an opportunity to play together against other teams and get some film out of it so we can learn from the mistakes we made.”

UMaine is idle until two games against New Hampshire on Jan. 2-3. While nothing on the schedule is certain amid the pandemic DuHart and his teammates plan to be ready for whatever comes next.

“It’s something we have to deal with with every game we play,” he said. “Obviously we want to win, but we’re also thankful when we’re just able to play a basketball game.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...