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James Locklear
Special to ICT

LEXINGTON, Virginia – Kamdyn Curfman prides himself on his shooting.

He routinely fires up 500 shots per day to keep his edge. It has paid dividends for the former Virginia Military Institute basketball standout as Curfman was recently named an All Conference performer for the Division I university. He finished second in all Division I basketball with 117 three-pointers.

Curfman, only the third Lumbee to play Division 1 college basketball, has now transferred to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, where he will play his final two seasons for the Thundering Herd.

Lumbee basketball player Kamdyn Curfman signed in April with Marshall University in West Virginia after playing three years for Virginia Military Institute. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Military Institute)

Marshall head basketball Coach Dan D’Antoni announced the signing of the former VMI standout on April 16.

"He's an outstanding young man, who brings work ethic, leadership and efficiency on both sides of the ball," D'Antoni said. "Off the court, he is great in the classroom."

Curfman said he decided to transfer to Marshall after many of his teammates transferred following the departure of Virginia Military Coach Dan Earl’s departure for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga on March 30.

Curfman said he had spent three seasons playing for the coach and felt comfortable in the system. He was on the Marshall campus for three weeks in May and will return in late July to finish his senior season.

Curfman said he felt comfortable with the Herd’s style of play.

“The transition is not that hard personally at Marshall. I felt like Marshall is a system that fits. I feel great about the team and being in this situation. We have a talented team,” he said.

Curfman said he is pleased to represent his Indigenous ancestors. His father, Jeff Curfman, is of Crow descent and his mother, Delora, is Lumbee. Rising to the top of his game and putting in the work has been a challenge, he said.

Being in such elite company in the basketball world has taken a lot of hard work and dedication, and it is something else he takes great pride in.

“Basketball is very competitive,” Curfman said. “If you can say you’re in the top one percent that means you worked the hardest. I went through a lot of emotions to get here. I didn’t have any Division I offers until late in my senior year.”

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Curfman is a bit undersized on the court at only 6-foot-1, and he was only 160 pounds when he arrived on the Virginia Military Institute campus nearly four years ago.

His persistence and weight room dedication have paid off, as he has added 25 pounds of muscle to his once gangly frame.

Former VMI Coach Dan Earl has nothing but praise for Curfman’s work ethic. Earl coached Curfman for three seasons as head coach at Virginia Military Institute, and says he is the epitome of the Keydet basketball player.

“He’s a great, great kid,” Earl said. “It starts with a super high character. That’s one of the reasons he was so appealing to our program. He does a great job in the classroom. He works hard on the court, too.”

Curfman first appeared on VMI’s radar during his impressive performances for his Amateur Athletic Union team in high school. A native of North Bethesda, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., he attended the prestigious Georgetown Prep where he was a four-year letterman.

Earl said Curfman also made a great impression attending basketball camps.

“He has been outstanding for us and we love how he plays,” the veteran coach said. “He has a wonderful shot and he’s in the gym all the time.”

Earl said Curfman worked hard to improve his game. He spent hours in the gym working on his ball handling, defense and other aspects of the game, making him the “anchor” of the defense.

“He’s more than a shooter,” Earl said. “He’s a great defender and dribbler. He’s driving to the basket more. He’s a great communicator.”

Lumbee basketball players

Curfman has joined two other Lumbees in the annals of tribal history in playing Division 1 basketball. Tom Smith played for Virginia in the late 1960s, and Kellan Sampson played for his dad Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma about 20 years ago.

Kelvin Sampson is now the coach at the University of Houston, and his son is one of his assistants. Sampson has had three appearances in the Final Four, and the father-son duo recently coached the Cougars to the Elite 8.

Marty Hunt remains the only Lumbee to ever be drafted in the National Basketball Association. The Boston Celtics selected him in the 12th round of the 1972 draft. Hunt made it until the final cut, when the Celtics kept first round selection and future NBA All Star and Coach Paul Westphal on their roster.

Danyel Locklear Jolicour, a Catawba College Hall of Famer, is the only Lumbee to ever play professional basketball. She played overseas in Europe in 2004 before a knee injury forced her to retire.

Curfman hopes to add to his legacy by playing professional basketball.

Recovering from injuries

Curfman is a psychology major and hopes to be a sports psychologist after his playing days are over. He knows the difficulty of overcoming psychological hurdles, especially after injuries, and he wants to help others.

Curfman shattered his pinkie finger during his sophomore year at Georgetown Prep during a freak accident on the court where the basketball crashed down on top of his hand. He underwent reconstructive surgery and missed about three months.

He tore his right labrum the following year after his arm became tangled in an opponent’s jersey while he was trying to get open. He heard the tear. After two years of rehabilitation, Curfman finally underwent surgery following his freshman season at VMI.

“It’s difficult to come back from injuries,” Curfman said. “Overcoming mental hurdles is difficult.”

He missed three months after arm surgery, but came back stronger than ever. He worked hard in the weight room and continued his 500-shot-per-day routine in the gym. He added dribbling and footwork drills as well.

“I challenged myself day in and day out,” Curfman said.

Known as a three-point shooter, Lumbee basketball player Kamdyn Curfman finished the 2021-2022 season at Virginia Military Institute tied for first place in the Southern Conference with 3.7 three-pointers per game. Curfman signed in April to move to Marshall University in West Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Military Institute)

Curfman’s play this season helped to lead VMI to its first postseason tournament berth since 2014. The Keydets ultimately fell to University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the opening round of the 2022 Roman College Basketball Invitational at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center in Florida.

Still, it was a successful season. This was only the fifth time VMI made it to the post-season. The Keydets appeared in the 1964, 1976 and 1977 NCAA tournaments and played in the CIT Tournament following the 2013-14 season.

Curfman was named to the media’s second team All-Conference. The coaches named him to the third team.

Curfman finished sixth in the Southern Conference with 15.8 points per game. His streak of 32 straight games with a three-pointer was the conference’s longest streak.

And he finished the season tied for first in the conference with 3.7 three-pointers per game. His 113 three-point record was tied for the most in the Southern Conference and ranked as the second most for a single season in VMI history.

He has 1,120 career points.

Looking ahead

Curfman said he models himself after his childhood hero, the late Kobe Bryant, known as one of the NBA’s hardest working players ever.

“Coming from my perspective,” he said, “you always have highs and lows. I try to keep the same attitude regardless and work hard everyday. Once you put in the work, you have the confidence to know you’re going to do well. But you have to put in that work.”

Though he was overlooked by bigger schools, Curfman worked hard and was determined to play Division I basketball. He kept pounding the court for hours at a time perfecting his jumper.

“I’m not the biggest or the strongest so it’s important that I shoot well and have the intangibles,” he said. “Basketball has a place for everyone. You can make your own place in the game if you work hard enough.”

He said he will continue to work hard.

“My life’s journey has been worthwhile because I have worked hard to get to this point,” Curfman said. “A lot of young players have had opportunities but they quit because the odds were stacked against them.

“We have no idea how life is going to turn out.”

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