Bobby Durkin just keeps betting on himself. And winning.
The recruitment of Durkin and the road to playing Division I basketball has been far from normal or smooth.
But the former Glenbard West star persevered. He bet on himself throughout the past year and the ride is going to end with fulfilling his dream of playing Division I basketball. Just don’t ask him where yet.
Durkin, one of the breakout seniors this past year while helping Glenbard West to a state championship, is suddenly the hottest name in Illinois recruiting.
As an uncommitted graduated senior, Durkin has continued to play on the club basketball circuit this summer. While playing with his Breakaway club team, he’s received double-digit offers in the past week alone — from all levels — and more are on the way.
There are low-major programs that have offered scholarships and are quickly losing hope. There are mid-majors keeping their fingers crossed. And there are even a smattering of high-major programs that have offered or have shown interest. Incredibly, the list grew by the hour over the past weekend.
Georgia Tech, Drake, Illinois State, Rice, Wyoming, Vermont, Loyola-Maryland, SIUE, Towson, and Eastern Michigan have extended offers. The list of schools that have been in contact and are continuing to monitor him for the rest of the month is even longer.
“I can say that I hoped it would all go this way,” Durkin said. “But I can’t imagine that I thought it would work out the way it did. Everything, from the season, to the state title to how it’s worked out recruiting wise, it’s been a tremendous experience.”
He knows there were some risks he took in his decision-making, and he’s appreciative of how it’s all played out.
“Everything that has happened in the past year, when you first make these decisions you hope for the best, but you never really know how it’s going to turn out,” Durkin said. “Things have worked out well for me. But anything could have happened, so there are times now where I think about it all and realize how fortunate I am. I feel very thankful and grateful everything has turned out the way it has.”
Initially, Durkin was barely a blip on the Division I radar. He played last summer with Glenbard West following his transfer from Hinsdale South and then competed with Breakaway. With very little overall interest, Durkin committed to Army in September.
After more thought and some reservations, Durkin opened things back up again in December. He believed he would attract more suitors, even if it extended into the spring club basketball season.
Following a season where he shined on a big platform — the Hilltoppers went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the state while being the talk of the sport — Durkin impressed in April during the NCAA live evaluation period. He again played with Breakaway and looked the part of a Division I player, continuing his shooting prowess while showing an even more versatile game.
The offers and interest picked up.
“After that first live period in April, I started hearing from a decent amount of schools,” Durkin said. “That’s when I knew I would probably have some options and was confident I would find the right place.”
But after receiving a few mid-major offers, Durkin wasn’t able to pull the trigger. The fit simply wasn’t there for him. He says he “wasn’t excited about going to any of the places that offered.” It was going to take a little more time.
Durkin decided to go a different route. He wanted to attract not only new and more options, but he wanted to find the right one. He believed a post-grad year at IMG Academy in Florida would provide that for him.
“Really everything coach [Jimmy] Carr at IMG explained and showed, the connection I had with him and how my game would improve, was a great sell to me,” Durkin said. “IMG is phenomenal. From a strength and conditioning perspective, to the coaching, to the competition level … It all went into the decision to go to IMG.”
However, another big decision could be on the horizon for Durkin.
With offers and interest flying in at a dizzying pace, Durkin may have the option of signing and heading off to college this fall after all. Some programs will take Durkin today as a Class of 2022 recruit, while others have offered him as a Class of 2023 recruit. Some will take him any way they can get him — as a Class of 2022 or Class of 2023 recruit.
Durkin doesn’t have a leader at this point; so many of these schools and the coaching staffs that are recruiting him are unfamiliar to him at this point. There will be a feeling-out process and a lot of homework done by Durkin in the coming weeks.
“My plan is to play out July,” said Durkin, whose Breakaway team will play in the Under Armour circuit in Chicago later this month in front of college coaches. “I will sit down with my family, look at all the options and potential fits and go from there. If the right fit is there and everything seems right with the Class of 2022, then that’s something I would take and look at seriously. And with that, obviously coach Carr would be involved because I made a commitment to him and IMG. He wants the best for me. So that’s where I’m at with everything.”
Durkin’s progression as a player has been immense. He has grown physically and as a player. He put the work in. In addition to sprouting to a legit 6-6 by the time his senior year began — and now pushing close to 6-7 — he also tightened up and toned his body while improving his conditioning over the past year. He made that a point of emphasis.
“I knew last year as a junior that was a weakness in my game,” Durkin said of his physical limitations at the time. “I spent a lot of time and put work in with a speed and agility trainer, with lifting and really just reshaping my body. That became a focus of mine, probably right after the AAU season last year.”
Glenbard West coach Jason Opoka saw Durkin evolve physically over the course of the year. Opoka could tell, early on, that Durkin had not spent a lot of time in the weight room.
But Opoka also instantly knew, just with how competitive Durkin is in everything he did, that once he was around the senior group of Hilltoppers that he would thrive and compete in the weight room with them.
“I think it’s impressive how he committed himself to getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Opoka said. “To become the player he is today is a credit to his dedication and drive.”
Gauging the confidence level of a player isn’t usually tangible. But the off-the-charts confidence level Durkin is playing with this summer is as tangible as it gets. Every shot he takes you expect to go in.
“Having the experience of playing at this level before definitely helps,” Durkin said of repeating his run in AAU. “But over June, especially, I put in a lot of work. Really, I was kind of just by myself, putting work in on the court, in the weight room. Every day. That has helped me translate a level of confidence to the point where I feel I can compete against every player and team we go up against.”
While Durkin is a high-level shooter who is aided by an outstanding touch and an easy shooting stroke, he’s also a crafty player with a high basketball I.Q. The skill level is also present with his ability to handle the ball and pass.
“He is so versatile and skilled and can play so many different spots on the floor,” Opoka pointed out. “He can play on the wing, facilitate an offense and play the stretch 4. He’s a gym rat with a high I.Q. and intelligence.”
But his lights-out shooting over the past week is what finally drove Division I coaches to not just want Durkin but to need him.
Shooting is at an absolute premium in basketball today. Durkin has shown to be about as good as it gets. He has a polished mid-range game and is effective with pull-ups. He hits shots from deep and coming off screens. The squaring of his shoulders, the textbook form, and the improved ability to quicken his release against closeouts resonates with college coaches.
And after this past weekend, a whole lot of them.