Danny Rubin goes from Landon to Boston College walk-on to ACC starter

Boston College's Danny Rubin, left, has made a startling transformation of his game since the end of the high school season last year. (AP Photo/The (Boston) Globe, Jim Davis)
Boston College's Danny Rubin, left, has made a startling transformation of his game since the end of the high school season last year. (AP Photo/The (Boston) Globe, Jim Davis)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 4, 2011; 12:11 AM

Danny Rubin wasn't sure what Boston College Coach Steve Donahue wanted when he pulled him aside during warmups before a game against Holy Cross in November. The Eagles were coming off an embarrassing loss to Yale in the second game of the regular season, a contest in which Rubin did not leave the bench.

The lack of playing time wasn't entirely unexpected for the Chevy Chase native, considering he's a freshman walk-on who only earned honorable mention All-Met honors as a senior at Landon last year.

What happened next, though, defied even the most optimistic of projections for Rubin's career.

After impressing in practice during the summer and into the preseason, Donahue informed Rubin he would be starting against the Crusaders. The development had Rubin "surprised but excited."

He scored 14 points in 23 minutes that night in a 69-54 Eagles victory, and has started almost every game since. It's such a startling development that those who know him closer to home have trouble explaining how Rubin has done it.

"I'm not shocked because that's how hard Danny is working," Landon Coach Andy Luther said. "But on television and starting ACC games? I don't think anyone expected that."

Rubin's journey to this point began during his sophomore year of high school. That's when Donahue, then the coach at Cornell, first noticed Rubin's smooth shooting stroke and skinny 6-foot-6 frame.

As time wore on, schools from the ACC, Patriot League and Ivy League inquired about him. But even after averaging 18 points as a senior and leading Landon to consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference titles, most wanted Rubin to spend a year building his strength at a prep school.

Even Donahue said this week he "wasn't sure if [Rubin] was ready for Division I college basketball at any level."

"There were a lot of people saying I couldn't do this, I couldn't do that," said Rubin, whose older brother, Alex, played at Division III Williams College. "There wasn't really a bright spot for me towards the end of my senior year; I wasn't sure what I was doing."

So Rubin took just a week off after the high school season ended before remaking his body with grueling workouts at Landon. He forced himself to go head-to-head with quicker and stronger players, exposing his weaknesses for the purpose of eliminating them. He hoped to avoid the prep school route, but only Cornell and Colgate remained as Division I options.

Rubin wanted to go to Cornell, because he believed Donahue's offensive system - which relies heavily on the three-point shot - was the perfect match for his skill set. But then Donahue was hired by Boston College in April after leading the Big Red to an Ivy League title and a Sweet 16 berth in last year's NCAA tournament.


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