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Former basketball center Hassan Duncombe played for Penn between 1987 and 1990. Credit: DP Archives

This past Tuesday, Penn men’s basketball alum Hassan Duncombe, who graduated in 1991, passed away at the age of 52 at Lehigh Valley Hospital - Pocono in East Stroudsburg.

While at Penn, Duncombe played three years for the Quakers, which lasted from the 1987-88 season to the 1989-90 season. After a debut season in which he put up 7.9 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game, Duncombe progressed to the point that in his last season he was the leading scorer of the team, averaging 19.1 points per game, in addition to 7.7 rebounds per game.

During that final season, Dunbcombe had one of the more iconic moments in Penn basketball history. In a February 1990 game against a strong Princeton team, the Quakers trailed 50-49 with :01 left on the clock. Penn guard Paul Chambers was at the free throw line with a shot to tie the game.

“His attempt spun around the rim for a split second and then fell off the iron,” The Daily Pennsylvanian wrote in 1995. “That instant was long enough for Penn center Hassan Duncombe to position himself between the Tigers’ Matt Lapin, the man who was supposed to box out Duncombe, and the ball. Duncombe then rose above Princeton’s Kit Mueller -- who was crashing the boards from the opposite side -- grabbed the ball and dropped it into the hoop. Penn won, 51-50, sending most of the 4,580 incredulous witnesses into delirium.”

Although he played for Penn over 30 years ago, Duncombe remains at fifth on the program’s all-time blocked shots list. In addition, his 44-point scoring output against Navy in December of 1989 still sits as one of the Quakers’ three 40-point games in program history.

After his Penn career, Duncombe tried out for several NBA teams and ended up playing in Puerto Rico. Following his time competing overseas, the Brooklyn native progressed into the coaching realm, spending 14 years as the City University of New York's Kingsborough Community College's head men's basketball coach, while also serving as a Peace Officer for the university. In addition to his new professional ventures, Duncombe also became a husband and a father of four.

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