Juwan Durham is looking forward to a fresh start after going through an emotional rollercoaster the last two years.
On Sunday, the former Tampa Prep hoops standout will head to Storrs, Conn. feeling as good as he has in a long time.
“It all came so fast,” Durham said. “I’m just ready to get this show on the road.”
The soon-to-be UConn Husky has put much more time in the rehabilitation room than on the hardwood lately.
He suffered two ACL tears in different knees over an eight month period.
The second surgery came this past fall and cost the 6’11 forward his senior season at Tampa Prep.
While he felt okay the day of that surgery on his left knee, Durham knew the road to recovery would be tough once his medication wore off.
“About a week in, you just want to die, basically,” Durham said.
The second injury came after the four star recruit spent more than seven months recovering from an ACL tear in his right knee late in his junior season.
The first ACL tear left Durham inactive for the postseason after he’d averaged 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game.
Durham says the second one undoubtedly cost him and his Terrapin teammates a state championship.
“I missed out on so much,” Durham said. “And just being out gave me that hunger that I needed again. I’m determined now.”
Durham returned to the court to scrimmage and work out with former Florida Gators standout Teddy Dupay about a month ago when his knee was strong enough.
Dupay has helped him with his game ever since Durham was an eighth grader, and Durham spent the end of the school year interning for Dupay and working with younger kids.
Eventually, Durham participated in one-on-one drills with Dupay and started taking 500 shots per day.
He also watched motivational videos on YouTube and built his confidence looking at inspirational quotes from movies like “Rocky” and “Coach Carter”.
All of that has helped Durham prepare for the next step, as he joins a top ten nationally ranked freshman class at UConn.
He’s still not fully recovered from his injury and will finish his rehab in Connecticut.
Durham could still decide to redshirt, but wheneve he hits the court he expects to be a force immediately.
“No talk and a lot of play,” Durham said. “I’m going to go out there and do what I know I can do. And I just want to put on for the city.”
Durham received good news from his surgeon when his left knee was examined again on June 7.
While it’s still swelling at times, the surgeon says the recovery remains steadily on track.
Durham says his he feels no pain in his knee anymore, and he expects to be back at full strength sooner than later.
And once he’s there, Durham will attack his goal to be one of the best basketball players ever from the 813 area code.
AND ALTHOUGH HE’LL BE MOVING TO THE 860 AREA CODE… DURHAM SAYS HIS GOAL IS TO PUT THE 8-1-3 ON THE BASKETBALL MAP.
“I just want to be that guy that comes from Tampa that everyone remembers and everyone looks back at and says, ‘Wow- that guy is still doing his thing in the NBA.’”