Dual Purpose: B.J. Duling Follows Passion for Fashion Design in Addition to Basketball Success

For B.J. Duling, basketball and fashion are his passion

Anyone who follows Kent State basketball has seen him — the freshman forward who plays with the intensity and expertise of one of his senior teammates. You know whom I’m talking about — he’s the new guy, who is 6-feet 7-inches tall, his blond braids flopping, as he spins on a drive to the rack, and lays the ball in for two.

His name is Bradley Duling Jr., but you probably know him as B.J. Duling. He is a 19-year-old freshman from Newark High School, who chose Kent State over schools like Xavier, Dayton, and Iowa.

"He's a very versatile forward and a tremendous athlete," head coach Rob Senderoff said when he announced signing him. "He can play multiple positions for us here, we see him eventually being a big wing in this league."

However, what you may not know is that Mr. Duling is a pre-fashion major, who is as passionate about becoming a clothing designer, as he is about slam-dunking the basketball during a Golden Flash run.

He decided during his junior year at Newark High School, that he wanted to play basketball at Kent State and major in fashion here, and that the university would be an excellent place to pursue both of his dreams.

"I've always been artistic and I've always cared about what I was wearing," Mr. Duling said. "I've always wondered what the next styles would be. It all came together when I learned that Kent State has one of the top fashion schools. I feel I was drawn in at a perfect time and a perfect opportunity to do something I enjoy."

Not only did Kent State have top ranked programs in which Mr. Duling could pursue both of his passions, basketball and fashion, but the basketball team welcomed him warmly, as one of their own, much the way a family would.

"The family feeling drew me in. It reminded me of home. I knew I'd fit right in."

Before arriving at Kent State, Mr. Duling had an impressive rep in the world of high school basketball. In November of 2016, Newark's Coach Jeff Quackenbush, said Mr. Duling was the most athletic player that he had coached in his 18 years at Newark High School. "His ability to finish around the rim is remarkable."

Among his many accolades Mr. Duling:

  • Contended for Mr. Basketball in Ohio as a senior at Newark High School
  • Scored 19 points per game over 26 games as a senior at Newark
  • Led his team with a remarkable 24-2 overall record
  • All OCC-Capital First Team selection, as well as an AP All-State Honorable Mention, as a junior.

For Mr. Duling, basketball was his first love — as demonstrated by a picture that his parents Karla and Bradley Sr. took of him playing with a basketball in his crib during his toddler years. He developed a more formal appreciation for the sport starting in the third grade.

Mr. Duling has four sisters, one of whom also plays basketball. He says that no one calls him Bradley, and that his mom tells him that he was known as B.J. before he was born.

Although still young in years, he has learned a lot about discipline and making wise choices because he likens playing basketball to having a job that he works at day in and day out. He knew that in order to reach his goal of earning a scholarship to play college basketball that he would have to work hard.

And his family has been right there, every step of the way.

"My family is my biggest support. I owe them a whole lot. I try my hardest for them. I never go out without putting forth an effort."

Mr. Duling said he has always been artistic and in school enjoyed portrait painting, digital art, and photography. He loves the fundamentals of art and using digital techniques such as Photoshop fascinate him.

"I enjoy both because you can use the fundamentals to create something from a drawing and then turn it into something else through technology," he said.

As Mr.Duling became a teenager, and his love of fashion grew, so did his curiosity about whether he could design clothing.

Then one Christmas, Mr. Duling’s sister got a sewing machine as a gift. She did not touch it, but Mr. Duling saw that as his opportunity to experiment. And experiment, he did.

"I made a pair of pants and a shirt," he recalled. "And I turned one of my hoodies into a sweater."

What would success in the fashion business look like for Mr. Duling? He said his dream is to own a clothing line for men that would include suits, ties, street wear, hats, shoes and accessories.

Mr. Duling realizes that his clothing line will not be just a way to make a living or fulfill his own personal dreams, but he sees it as a means to help others improve their lives.

"I see myself doing this for a long time. A lot of good can come out of my clothing line," Mr.Duling said. "I would like to do things for the community with my clothing line. I would like to go around the world and help bring people together."

POSTED: Monday, February 26, 2018 - 11:47am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 1:07pm
April McClellan-Copeland