PF Juwan Durham To Transfer to Notre Dame

The big offseason for Irish head coach Mike Brey continues. Just a couple of weeks after Brey picked up his first commit for the 2018 class, on Saturday he received the commitment of transfer big man Juwan Durham. Durham will transfer to South Bend from UConn, where he spent his freshman year this last season. Durham will sit this upcoming year and then have three years of eligibility remaining.

Brey and company were very aggressive in their pursuit of Durham immediately upon announcement of his intent to transfer. The Irish staff was the first to visit Durham and convinced Durham to take his first visit to South Bend in early May. Durham subsequently visited Virginia Tech and Villanova the past two weekends but still decided to commit to Notre Dame once those visits ended. Beating Villanova head-to-head for both Durham and Prentiss Hubb is a major statement for Brey and his new staff.

Freshman Season

Durham is an interesting prospect. He was easily a top-20, five-star recruit throughout his junior year of high school. He was (and still is) freakishly tall and long, had guard-like skill and agility, and could jump out of the gym. Unfortunately, he then tore his ACL, recovered, and then tore his other one in a freak injury. The list of high-level athletes that have fully recovered from multiple dramatic knee injuries is pretty short compared to the list of guys who haven’t.

The good news is that he recovered and was able to make it through an otherwise nondescript freshman season regaining his strength and getting on the court. He averaged just 8 minutes, but other than a minor foot injury made it through the season without major incident.

Averaging just 1.6 points per game, Durham did not have a lot of highlights from his freshman season in Storrs. His best game was an 8-point effort against South Florida. I don’t want to take too much from only a decent game in a blowout over a poor opponent. But during this game, Durham at least showed some signs that he is still close to the athlete most envisioned before his injuries.

Check out his Durham’s dunk at 6:22 in the above video (it’s one of three dunks he had in this video). He receives the ball on the lower left block and easily goes up-and-under for a smooth, authoritative dunk on the other side of the rim. It’s at least a pretty good sign about his athleticism, right?

Stats and Recruiting Rankings

2016-2017: 8.3 minutes per game, 1.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 49% FG%

2016 247 composite: 4 star, 51st nationally, 14th ranked PF

247: 4 star, 46th nationally, 12th ranked PF

ESPN: 4 star, 52nd nationally, 12th ranked PF

Rivals: 4 star, 47th nationally

Scout: 4 star, 63rd nationally, 11th ranked PF

Outlook

For someone who hasn’t played much live, in-game basketball the past two years, it’s a little unfortunate that Durham needs to sit out another full season. That said, he gets a year to train with the most developmental head coach in the country. Not only that, Durham also gets to play against the best post player in the country every day in practice. Durham no doubt recognized the opportunity available to him over the course of the 2017-2018 school year and then the wide open depth chart in the three years following.

Once Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben, and Austin Torres exhaust their eligibility after this season, Durham will join John Mooney and Elijah Burns as front court options for Mike Brey. Frankly, the way Brey constructs his lineups, he doesn’t need many more options than that. Given his skill-set for the pick-and-roll heavy offense that Notre Dame runs, it’s easy to imagine that Durham is the odds-on favorite to replace Colson in the starting lineup in 2018.

At his best, Durham is like a Zach Auguste that can get downhill and attack and finish at the rim. But he has also shown the ability to shoot past the free throw line, at least in high school, which could lead to a more dynamic pick-and-roll attack like we are seeing with Bonzie Colson. I’m sure the Irish staff hope that Durham can be a stout rim-protector as well. That said, until you throw someone through the ACC gauntlet, it’s hard to really project that onto someone. Durham will certainly need to put a few pounds onto his 6’11”, 207 pound frame in the next calendar year to really get to that point.

Juwan Durham looks like the perfect fit at the center of Mike Brey’s 5-out offense; the only real question mark is the health of his knees and his continued development particularly in Brey’s system. Here’s hoping we get some positive reports over the next year regarding both. If so, come the 2018-2019 season, we should be seeing a lot of Juwan Durham in an Irish uniform.

By |2018-05-09T22:26:11+00:00June 10th, 2017|Basketball|3 Comments

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Joe SchuellerMikeyB Recent comment authors
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MikeyB
MikeyB

Brey is rolling now. This is huge. Gibbs, Hubb, Rex, Harvey, Durham is a ridiculously athletic lineup.

Joe Schueller

This is wonderful news. In Gibbs, Brey pulled a great PG. Harvey is a phenomenal wing, and now with Durham inside, the program is showing excellent balance. Guys should be able to come along at a good pace and keep ND experienced for the next several seasons.

I totally agree that a downhill big is perfect for this newer version of Brey’s offense. While I still think he’d love a consistent dump-it-in-there guy on the block, the last few seasons have shown how effective Brey’s teams can be in motion and 5-out sets.

My biggest hope is that we’re about to see an uptick in the defensive capabilities in South Bend. With Gibbs, Pflueger and Harvey on the floor, the Irish are very solid on the perimeter. If Durham is as athletic as advertised, he’ll be an effective in both switches and rim protection. Throw in some bruising and intensity with Burns, and you have a team that could make some noise defensively.

All very encouraging. It is an amazing time to be an Irish basketball fan.

MikeyB
MikeyB

If Brey can grab a sniper next, somebody with Matt Ryan range, I wonder how many bodies he will try to take in this class. Basically the only position of need is one more deep threat.

I suppose it depends on how he views Hubb. If he sees him as a true ball handler, I’m not sure he needs another PG. If he expects him to play off the ball mostly, then I’d guess we see another PG added.

Even then, with the room in this class, he then has the ability to shoot for the starts if he wants. With such fantastic balance in recruiting, he can basically take the best player he can find (or even start working on the 2019 class). Great balance, great work by Brey and the staff.