Chatted by phone today Juwan Durham as well as Joe Fenlon, who coaches Durham down at Tampa Bay Prep.
Here's the story of how Durham wound up in Storrs
Here's some of what they had to say:
“It was a really tough decision, because I’m gonna spending the next four years of my life, possibly, with thewe guys. It was really big for me and my family, we just wanted to make the best decision for me.”
“I really felt like the team was close-knit and together. I asked a lot of people about Coach Ollie, and they all told me that I could trust him and that he’s a good, wholesome guy.”
He said Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller were his hosts on last weekend's visit, and that Amida Brimah, Rodney Purvis and Jalen Adams were among those who sold him on Ollie.
"(The coaching staff) didn’t promise me anything. They told me I could have the opportunity to be able to start. That was enough for me, because I know you can’t promise any kid a starting position, because you never know who's going to be on the team. And I just don’t want anything given to me.”
"The plan was to try to narrow it down a little bit, but he had visited a bunch of schools unofficially, had been on campuses, and was really trying to find a place where he was really comfortable. He's also a very thought-provoking kid. He and I spoke Monday night. Tuesday he came in during study hall and said there's really no reason to narrow it down, I really feel like I'm ready for a commitment. He had thought about it very much. It was certainly not an impulsive move. UConn's always been one of his favorites, anyway. To some people, it may have come out of the blue. But on the inside, we knew UConn definitely was in the mix."
Fenlon said the Huskies actually practiced inside the Tampa Bay Prep gym during their trip to play South Florida last January. Ricky Moore led Durham's recruitment, and he came back a couple of times afterwards. In April, at the women's Final Four, Kevin Ollie came down and Durham first had a chance to talk with him.
"It was a very good conversation," Fenlon said. "Juwan’s a very
level-headed kid. He has goals and aspirations, but he also knows that,
eventually, the ball’s gonna stop bouncing. Not every question he asked was
(on Durham as a player)
"He’s got a very interesting skill set. He creates a lot
of matchup problems offensively, because he can handle, pass, shoot the ball. He's a very
unselfish kid, in that he doesn’t take bad shots. He’s not a volume shooter. He’s
not worried about what he’s gonna get, he’s worried about quality, not
quantity. He’s a kid who just wants to win. If that means giving ball up at end
of the game, he will give the ball up. He doesn’t need limelight on him. The limelight's already on
"He's got real good control of his body. A lot of kids 6-10, 6-11, are kind of awkward. Juwan has a way of not committing fouls. He changes a lot of shots,
blocks a hell of a lot of shots. But he doesn’t do it when he ends up fouling.
With his length, he doesn’t need to leave floor."
"Very active on glass, defensively. He can run the floor
very well, and he can push it up the floor, as well."
"He probably weighs about 210 pounds right now. He’s never
gonna be Karl “The Mailman” Malone. But he’s very skilled on the block, he has
a very good post game. He’s a very good free throw shooter. I like putting him
inside, because people are gonna foul him. That’s like money in the bank for
us. We thrive on that."
(on Durham's ACL injury)
"In the regional semifinals, he was going for a steal. He
punched the ball out between two guys, tried to outrun both guys, it was a freak
accident right in front of our bench."
"There was really no hesitation from the majority of schools. Not that it's run-of-the-mill, but ACL
surgery now is not what it was 20 years ago. The time
away from the court has been really good for Juwan. It makes him understand his passion
for the game. The fact that he's not been able to compete for the last 6-7 months, it’s starting to
drive him crazy. He really can’t wait to get back on the court."
"We start practice on Oct. 26. There's no reason to rush him back. He has a very bright future, we’re not gonna compromise it here. He’ll know when he’s
ready. If it's sometime in November, great. If it's December, great."
Durham had a an official visit slated for Miami, and had already made unofficials to Miami, Florida, Florida State and Louisville. He was also interested in Villanova, Kansas, Notre Dame and Maryland.
(what appealed to him about the UConn campus?)
"It’s not in a city. That has an appeal to him, because there wouldn’t be as many
distractions. He can just get up there, be a student, be an athlete."
Fenlon, who's entering his 33rd season coaching Tampa Bay Prep, coached Casey Sanders, a McDonald's All-American who went on to play at Duke in the early 2000's. People compare Durham to Sanders, Fenlon said, but added that whenever Sanders sees Durham play, he says, "God, he's so much better than I was."
“What Juwan really needed to learn up on were there other
things outside of basketball. He loves being a student, walking the halls.
Basketball is what he does, basketball doesn’t define him. Those are the kids
who really have opportunities to go places. Basketball is the most important
thing to him, but so is being a good friend, being a good student. His mother
wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Fenlon said Durham's dad visited Storrs over the summer, and his mom accompanied him on last weekend's official visit.
He also noted that Alterique Gilbert called Durham almost immediately after he announced his commitment via Twitter.
Labels: Alterique Gilbert, Casey Sanders, Joe Fenlon, Juwan Durham, Kevin Ollie, Ricky Moore