St. Andrew’s junior Anthony Duruji forged his own multi-sport, multi-school recruiting path, and it resulted in a commitment to Louisiana Tech earlier this week. But if not for a 2006 Cinderella story, the high-flying swingman might have never even considered heading south and playing for the Conference USA program.
Tony Skinn, a Louisiana Tech assistant, was a starting guard for George Mason in its historic run to the Final Four as the No. 11 seed. But before reuniting with Bulldogs Coach Eric Konkol — a former Patriots assistant — Skinn was coaching Duruji on Team Takeover. It was there with the prominent AAU program that the two developed a bond. Both have Nigerian roots — Skinn, a native, played on the national team — and both share a passion for basketball.
“It’s the Nigerian connection,” Duruji said. “I guess, it’s just in our blood.”
Konkol took the Louisiana Tech coaching job a year ago, and made Skinn the first addition to his staff. Meanwhile, recruiting interest in Duruji started heating up. The 6-foot-7 wing was coming off a breakout 2014-15 season at St. Andrew’s and colleges — including Louisiana Tech — took notice of his combination of size, athleticism and body control.
Duruji took his game to another level this winter, averaging 15 points and 9.5 rebounds and ending his junior season with eight consecutive double-doubles. In February, he picked up an offer from Virginia Commonwealth and his offers list expanded to double-digits in April with Dayton and St. Joseph’s among the schools getting involved.
Duruji ultimately settled on Louisiana Tech, setting up a conference call with Konkol and Skinn on Monday night. Part of the decision came down to style and fit, he said. The Bulldogs — nicknamed the Dunkin’ Dogs — play at a high-energy, fast-pace that suits his skill-set.
“What stood out to me: they’re really good in transition. They’re really athletic, they’re long,” Duruji said. “A lot of people are versatile on that team. They’re just at their best when they’re running up and down the court.”
But more than that, Duruji said his decision came down to comfort and trust.
“I wanted to pick a school where the coaches like me,” he said. “I know it’s a grimy business, but I just always liked them.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 7
- Potomac School senior Ryan McAndrews came through with a walkoff hit in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference baseball championship.
- Sandy Spring Friends right-hander Zain Bamji saved his best for last in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference baseball final.
- Mount Hebron boys’ lacrosse is on its way to ‘Naptown’ after shutting out River Hill in the Maryland 3A/2A South region final.
- Oakton’s Tess Sapone and Wilson’s Kaili Gregory were named Gatorade state players of the year for girls’ soccer.
- Leonardtown girls’ lacrosse topped Broadneck to reach its first state semifinal and snap a string of region playoff losses to Anne Arundel schools.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
More playoffs! Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) is covering the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference boys’ lacrosse final between Flint Hill and the Potomac School. Dan Roth (@ByDanRoth) will be at Spingarn High this afternoon for the DCIAA track and field championships. I’ll be at Robinson for the girls’ lacrosse Virginia 6A North quarterfinal showdown between the No. 5 Rams and No. 7 Langley and the nightcap between the Yorktown and Robinson boys. Follow @ericgoldweinWP for updates.