Michael Clarke Duncan

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Clarke Duncan played basketball at Alcorn State

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Michael Clarke Duncan, the Oscar-nominated actor who was described by many as a 6-5, 300-pound “gentle giant,” passed away Monday from complications that stemmed from a heart attack he suffered in July. He was 54 years old.

Aside from his success with movies that include “The Green Mile” and his undeniable presence on the silver screen, CBSSports.com uncovered an interesting bit about Clarke Duncan: he was also a former college basketball player, having played as a walk-on at Alcorn State in 1983-84.

“He was a tough, physical player,” Clarke Duncan’s former coach, Davey Whitney, told CBSSports.com. “He was undersized and didn’t weigh much back then, but he was very strong and powerful.”

Before coming to Alcorn State, Clarke Duncan played at Kankakee Community College (Ill.) before joining Alcorn State, but eventually had to leave the team due to what were deemed “family reasons.”

“And he was a pretty good player,” Whitney added. “He was just tough. He’d knock guys around. It’s really sad that he’s gone at such a young age.”

To read Jeff Goodman’s full story, click here.

Below is the trailer for “The Green Mile,” which garnered Clarke Duncan an Oscar nomination.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)