MS Sports Hall of Fame Calls Duease for 2024 Class


Gregg Popovich has 1,399 (and counting) NBA wins, Mike Krzyzewski retired with 1,202 NCAA Division 1 wins. Retired Arkansas High School Coach John Hutchcraft hung up his coaching whistle with 2,016 total wins. But Madison Ridgeland Academy’s Richard Duease isn’t far behind at 1,819 wins (12/26/23) – 592 of those coming as a girls Head Coach. MRA’s Coach Duease just keep winning and adding to a total they may never be attained by another coach. But “Rat” just keeps producing solid teams, great players and more notches in that Hall of Fame Coaching belt that includes the MRA Hall of Fame and the MAIS Hall of Fame. This coming August, Duease will join the 2024 Class for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame that includes Eli Manning and the late famed broadcaster Red Barber. 

Admitting he’s never worked a job and reflecting on his career, Coach Duease points out “how blessed I’ve been to be able to do, I don’t call it a job, but do something I love doing that I really never considered going to work each day. And having a family. I’ve been one of the fortunate ones. I haven’t had to move every two to three years. I’m in my 42nd year at MRA. My daughter and my wife have never known moving and to me that’s a blessing.”

For 42 out of the 49 seasons he’s coached, he’s patrolled the sidelines for MRA. Before that the Delta native had stops at Manchester Academy and Lee Academy – all high school locales. He decided a long time ago, he wanted to be a husband and a dad and not a college coach out recruiting the landscape for talent and leaving his family at home alone. Duease has been asked to join the college ranks but his family always came first. Having married late at 35 and having his daughter at 37, he chose to be close to home and to her (Anne Taylor Duease Lindsey). And come May, the successful coach will add another title – grandfather. 

“About the second or third grade, my wife (Kim) and I talked and I said, ‘I want to be where she is. I don’t want to be on the road recruiting. I’m putting it all in God’s hands and when it’s time to leave I’ll leave.’ I’m very happy and by doing that I never worried about moving on because I knew God had me where he wanted me to be.”

The Indianola native, Richard Duease, got the state record for boys’ basketball wins back in the 2020 season, eclipsing Norris Ashley, who won 1,697 games at Coahoma County and Ingomar from 1969-2012. The Indianola Academy grad (1970), MDCC and Mississippi State alum noted that his growing up stomping grounds of Sunflower County made a huge impression on Duease and grounded him firmly in athletics and how to compete and how to coach. 

“I grew up in Indianola and my mother, Ina Duease, had a store there – Johnny’s Department Store. My dad (John) had one in Belzoni, Johnny’s Army Store and my brother Johnny ran that store when my momma retired. I played all sports there had a great time as a young man growing up in Indianola at that time. There was nothing like it,” Duease said.

With two courses in business shy of a degree from MSU, Duease changed his major to PE because he didn’t want to go home to the two family businesses.

“I decided I wanted to coach and not go home to Indianola or Belzoni and work for my parents in their store,” he said. “That’s when I switched it over. I told my advisor, I wanted to coach. When I started out coaching, I was teaching Business Law and stuff like that. Then I took over as AD (athletic director) 20 years ago but this past year I gave that up and I’m just coaching basketball.”

When he first started, he was more than a basketball coach and was a bit fiery on the sidelines.

“In Yazoo City, I was 22 years old and right out of Mississippi State and I coached every sport. I was offensive coordinator for high school football, I was the Head Coach for junior high football, junior high girls and junior high boys and varsity girls and varsity boys head basketball coach and I coached girl’s track. And I lost about 20 pounds that year,” Coach Duease said. “I probably got more technicals that year than I did my whole career.”

When he set the career win total for Mississippi in 2020, the humble coach deflected his success, “This record isn’t about me, it’s about the boys and girls I’ve coached and the coaches that have helped me over the years. It’s a team deal. They are just as much a part of this as I am. Hopefully, the Lord has a few more years for me.”

At Indianola High School and then Indianola Academy, Duease was coached by legends Charlie Wright in basketball and Bill McGuire in football. It was McGuire who made the biggest impression on him as a player that molded his coaching career. 

“He’s why I got in coaching,” Coach Duease said of Coach McGuire. “He was different. He was tough and very outgoing. He made me feel important. He made a lot of guys feel important but he made a lot of guys feel not so important. I think the key in coaching is that everybody doesn’t get treated the same. Not everybody can handle a ‘tail chewing.’ You have to recognize that early and you have to know how to motivate them. That’s something he did early and I tried to learn from him. Even to this day I’ll talk to him and visit and he knows how I feel about him.”

Coach McGuire recognized his talent early on.

“He had a lot of confidence himself and he was a great athlete. He didn’t look like one but he was a heck of an athlete,” Coach McGuire said. “He was a great basketball player, good baseball player and a durn good quarterback. He was my first quarterback as a head coach at Indianola High School. We named him ‘Big Due.’ He had an air of confidence about him and he had that smile. He got it done. If I had any influence on him becoming a coach, it was because he saw and understood how much I cared for it. Buddy, he’s done the same thing – plus. You’ve got to put yourself completely in it to be successful.”

Big Due’s other athletic influence was his older brother, Johnny.

“My dad was an older guy so my brother was the guy who really trained me to play all sports,” he said. “When Johnny was a senior in high school, I was the manager and in the fifth grade. It was all win, you had to win. When they lost, I probably got more upset than they did.”

At Lee Academy, Duease coached girls’ basketball for four years before getting back on the boys’ bench at MRA where he coached both but found another girls’ head coach as he serves as the school’s athletic director as well. 

“That’s why I left Lee, I wanted to coach boys again,” he said. “I was here for about 11 years and became athletic director and coached boys and girls for about 19 years. Then I fired myself as girls’ basketball coach and just coached boys since then. That’s probably the reason I’m still coaching.”

The Hall of Fame Coach had his athletic heroes growing up. Pistol Pete Maravich and Bart Starr but a football injury at MDJC pre-empted his football career. 

“In high school I wore number 23 which was Pete’s number. I always wanted to be a pro player in something. I didn’t care, I loved all the sports. But I was just a good player in sports, I wasn’t a great player in sports. But sports are what I always loved,” he said. 

His high school position was wherever the ball was and “as Charlie Wright told me in the 10th grade and we were playing Leland and we started three sophomores, and I missed my first three shots so I quit shooting. Charlie Wright called a timeout and he said, ‘Look, I don’t have you in the game for your defense. Shoot the ball. Well, he never had to tell me that again and that’s how I played.”

Looking back on his time at Mississippi Delta Junior College, Duease played football, basketball and tennis. He started at quarterback mid-way through his freshman year against East Mississippi and had a good game. But he “tore his knee up” in practice the following week to end his season. His sophomore season was going well as starter for three games as quarterback and punter, then came the matchup against Itawamba.

“I rolled out and a guy hit me late and I broke my arm. That basically ended that and then I went to Mississippi State the second semester,” he said. 

The Delta legend met another Delta legend during his junior high basketball season – Archie Manning.

“He was a senior when I was in the ninth grade but he was our hero. Nobody could but everybody tried to emulate their games after him. Not just football but basketball, baseball and track. He did everything. I played five sports at Indianola and enjoyed them all but track,” he said. “They called my brother Mousie and he’s eight years older than me so they called me Rat because I was bigger than he was. One day we were playing Drew in junior high and he came through the gym after practice and stopped and talked to me because I wore the same number as him in football. He was my hero.”

In gathering his 1,819 wins thus far, Coach Duease has had to adapt to the game’s changes but has always kept the fundamentals sharp. 

“We play hard-nosed man to man. The game has changed more offensively than defensively. Back in the day you ran a lot of sets (on offense) and you wanted to dictate where the players were supposed to be. Now the athletes have gotten to a point where you have to let them show their creativity and imagination. Now we try to throw over the top and outrun the teams to the other end. Then we attack immediately and if we can’t, we might run some sets. We may go five out motion or four in and one out. The speed of the game is what has really changed over the years. We’ve averaged 29 wins a year for 38 years. It’s been pretty good.”

Duease’s players have gone onto D1, D2, D3 and JUCO schools but his “coaching tree” has blossomed and produced plenty of fruit. And there are plenty of other professions that have prospered due to Duease’s coaching and impact on young men’s lives.

“I’ve got a guy who’s an assistant at Texas, a guy at Southeast Louisiana. I’ve got a lot of guys in high school coaching who played for me,” he said. “And there are plenty of doctors and lawyers and others and they all love to take care of me.”

Like most coaches, Coach Duease doesn’t dwell too much on the success but the losses haunt him at times. 

“You sit back and think, ‘how did I lose that game? How did that happen? I just don’t think about the wins as much as I think about the losses and what I could have done better and put our team in a position to win.”

Looking over his career, he says, “The Lord has really blessed me and He’s given me a great job, a great family and a great town to live in.”

And on the area that molded him, he said, “those years in the 60s where I got to play sports and do other things was probably, I don’t know if I could have been in a better place in the country than Indianola, Mississippi at that time.”

Retirement isn’t a thought but the successful coach knows when to call it a career.

“This is what I tell my wife, ‘Whenever I get tired of practicing, that’s when I’ll retire.’ I really enjoy practice. I love the games but really enjoy practice. If my health stays and my eyesight stays where it should be, then I’ll coach as long as I can.”

There’s still the Naismith Hall of Fame and he’s still coaching and oh, he’s just 284 wins shy of the all-time high school win record. And he’s still enjoying practice. Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame 2024 Class Member, MRA’s Boys Basketball Head Coach, Richard Duease.