Photo via Todd Melet

I caught up with two former Dukies late last night.

There’s a reason some pro basketball and baseball players don’t want to sign with West Coast teams unless it’s the Lakers or Dodgers. That’s because millions of fans east of the Mississippi rarely get to see them play due to the time zones.

Since I don’t follow the NBA all that closely, I was surprised to see Seth Curry and Rodney Hood helping the Portland Trail Blazers force a seventh game against Denver in the Western Conference semifinals after watching the Canes and Bruins earlier.

There they were, two Dukies who had vacated my mind. They were playing, and playing well in the Blazers’ 119-108 win over the Nuggets in Portland.

Curry has always lived in the shadow of older brother Steph, the perennial MVP candidate in the league. Portland is the sixth team in five active seasons Seth has toiled for, and he looks about the same as he did at Duke, where played three years for Coach K. He is still chunkier and slower than Steph, but he knows the game and this is his second-best NBA season, statistically, averaging 8 points a game and shooting a better percentage from the longer 3-point line than he did in college. He’s coming back from missing the entire 2018 season with a stress fracture.

And with both Curry’s playing out West, parents Dell and Sanya go back and forth getting lots of TV time at Warriors and Blazers games. It must be nice to see their undrafted son No. 2 earning some pro props after graduating from Duke in 2013. He will never be as good as Steph – but who is?

Hood was a first-round NBA pick following his one season with the Blue Devils in 2014 and has had a pretty good pro career, averaging more than 12 points for Utah, Cleveland and now Portland. The lithe lefty has stepped up his game even more in the playoffs, averaging 16 points so far in the Western semis. Hood scored 25 points in 32 minutes off the bench in Game 6, hitting 3 of 4 from the arc, helping spark the Blazers’ comeback.

And there’s a third Dukie in Portland, rookie Gary Trent, Jr., although he rarely gets in the game. All this made me wonder whatever happened to Harrison Barnes? Oh, yes, he’s now in Sacramento —  with Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, two more disappearing Dukies.