Durham An Intriguing Transfer Prospect
Notre Dame was always going to scour the transfer wire for a big this offseason and when Juwan Durham announced his intentions to transfer from UConn last week after one season, the Irish didn’t waste any time.
Notre Dame assistants Rod Balanis and Ryan Humphrey flew up to Connecticut on Friday to meet with the 6-foot-10, 207-pounder from Tampa, Fla.
Durham averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds and almost five blocks per game as a junior at Tampa Prep, but tore the ACL in his right knee in his final game of the season. Then, months later, he tore the ACL in his left, which caused him to miss his entire senior season.
Durham played in 28 games as a freshman, but didn’t have a major impact, averaging 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds.
The Irish are hoping after sitting out a year as a transfer, Durham will be ready to burst back onto the scene and show the ability that made him one of the top prospects in his class.
“He’s a very skilled big kid,” Durham’s former coach at Tampa Prep Joe Fenlon told Irish Sports Daily. “He’s 6-10, but he can handle the ball, he can pass the ball and he can shoot the ball. He has the ability to be a matchup nightmare. If you put a big on him, he can come out on the perimeter and put it on the floor and slash.
“If you put a smaller guy on him, he can post him up. He’s a very skilled kid. He played inside most of the time in high school for the three years he played before he got hurt. He’s very skilled on the block, but he just has a skillset that kids his size don’t normally have. That’s what makes him intriguing.”
Fenlon said more than 30 schools had reached out since Durham’s announcement and that it’s going to require a process to narrow that down to one.
“You just have to keep grinding and not go to the biggest name school or the school that went the farthest in this year’s NCAA Tournament,” Fenlon said. “You want to go somewhere you’re going to have a chance to compete a year from now. That’s the interesting thing about Juwan.
“He was a Top 15 player when he tore ACL. He ended up being a Top 30 player even without playing his senior year. But he’s a kid who doesn’t come in with false expectations. He’s not one of these kids who is going to come in and say, ‘I better be playing 25 minutes a game.’ He just wants to go help a team win games. If he gets numbers and he gets minutes, that’s great as long as he feels like he’s making a contribution to the program and that’s all he’s ever wanted to do. That hasn’t changed. He just wants to go somewhere he feels he is valuable member of the program and is helping them progress. If that’s Notre Dame and that’s where he chooses to go, I think that’s a great decision.”
Fenlon said the combination of basketball and academics at Notre Dame are intriguing to Durham, who is a good student and is pushed by his mother to place a premium on education.
“It’s definitely one he’s interested in,” the coach said. “Notre Dame is a good spot. Coach (Mike) Brey has done a heckuva job there. He’s got a lot of very good choices in front of him.”
The biggest factor for Durham could be finding a staff that
he feels he can trust.
“He’s already been in college classes, he understands what college is about, he understands study hall, studies, skills,” said Fenlon. “He needs to go and try to develop a good relationship in a short period of time with the coaching staff that is going to help him develop as a young man as well as an athlete.”
There’s no firm timeline Durham has to have a decision made by outside of when school starts in the summer, but it seems like he isn’t going to sit around and wait.
“I think within the next few days, he will decide where he wants to visit,” Fenlon said. “I don’t know that he’ll visit five places. He only visited UConn the first time through.”
Fenlon said he could even visit somewhere next week provided he takes care of his schoolwork at UConn.
“He’s trying to make sure he finishes very strong academically otherwise his mom will kill him. It’s no joke. It’s academics first for mom, so that’s not a bad thing for the Irish.”