The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Catamounts in the Wild: Robin Duncan and Dylan Penn

Courtesy of Greg Fiume
Robin Duncan, number 55, played for UVM men’s basketball for five seasons as a guard.

There have been many great players to wear Vermont across their chest and play in front of a sold-out sea of green and yellow. In the past decade, players from all across the country have come to Catamount Country and been a part of what many college basketball analysts, like CBS’ Jon Rothstein, could only describe as a “mid-major dynasty.”

For most Catamount players, collegiate basketball marks the end of their basketball journey. However, many Catamount alumni have been able to carve out successful careers in professional leagues in Denmark, Spain, Australia and even the NBA.

Class of ‘23 teammates Robin Duncan and Dylan Penn both signed professional contracts with Basketligaen—Denmark’s top basketball league. More than 3,500 miles away from Patrick Gym, they continue to share the court not as teammates, but as rivals.

Duncan and Penn’s basketball journey predates their time in Burlington or Denmark. Long before they inked deals to become professional athletes or were All-Conference selections in their farewell championship season, the two grew up together in Evansville, Indiana.

The two shared a love of basketball and desire to get better.

“I knew [Duncan] when I was just six or seven,” Penn stated in a Feb. 26 email to the Cynic. “He was always in the gym with his brothers when I was with my uncle. Where there was basketball, there was Robin Duncan.”

Their high schools, Evansville Harrison and Evansville Memorial, frequently battled it out in state playoffs. Duncan and Evansville Harrison won the first two meetings, but Penn and Evansville Memorial got the last laugh in their junior and senior years.

“We saw a lot of each other, whether we were teammates or not,” Duncan stated in a Feb. 26 email to the Cynic. “Iron sharpens iron, so we were both better because of it.”

Post-graduation, the two went their separate ways. Duncan followed in his brothers’ footsteps and joined John Becker’s team at UVM, while Penn went to Bellarmine University in Kentucky.

Duncan played well early in his career, starting 22 games his first-year season. Every year, he was able to carve out more of a role, and eventually became a staple of Becker’s rotation.

Penn’s time at Bellarmine was full of accolades and progression. His numbers across the board improved with each season, including a jump to 16 points per game in his senior season despite the school’s transition to Division I in 2020. However, Penn wanted a change of scenery and decided to look elsewhere for his final year of eligibility.

Dylan Penn, number 13, played for UVM men’s basketball in his final collegiate season as a guard.
(Courtesy of Ryan Manley)

Penn was a “hot commodity” when he hit the transfer portal, garnering interest from notable mid-majors and power five conferences, according to On3 analyst Jamie Shaw. But Penn opted for a reunion with his former teammate and friend in Burlington, and a chance at an America East championship.

“Our relationship and his desire to win allowed him to accept and embody our team’s culture,” Duncan stated. “It was a special season and the best way possible to end our college careers.”

En route to the Cats’ second-consecutive America East title in March 2023, Penn led the team in scoring with 13 points per game and earned AE Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Duncan ranked fourth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.17, earned All-Conference First Team and All-Defense honors and became the program leader in games played at 147, according to a March 17, 2023 Burlington Free Press article.

Following the storybook ending to their collegiate careers, the two signed their first professional deals in the same Danish league: Basketligaen. Duncan and Team FOG Naestved faced off against Penn and the Svendborg Rabbit in Feb. 2024, marking their first matchup as professional athletes.

It was a special night for both, but it was Duncan and his squad who came away with the 86-76 win.

“There was a lot of catching up mid-game, which was special,” Penn stated. “But I always want to win versus him because every time he beats me in anything, he lets me hear all about it.”

Duncan and Penn are fighting to add another championship to their already-accomplished resumes, as FOG Naestved and Svendborg are still in the mix for a top seed in the upcoming Basketligaen playoffs.

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