LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Al Durham showed Saturday night he has the skill set to be a special guard in the Big Ten.
Durham, a high school senior and IU basketball commit out of Berkmar High School in Liburn, Georgia, posted 10 points with six rebounds and three assists in the 45th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Durham played alongside future IU teammate Justin Smith, a forward from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
The future Hoosier duo earned the start for team Lightning on Saturday and were key components in the 122-109 victory against team Thunder. Durham and Smith built a strong personal and basketball relationship during the weekend in order to prepare for summer workouts at IU in June.
“It’s always great to get a head start on getting to know your future teammate,” Durham said. “Me and Justin connect very well and we had fun this weekend and I think we’re going to do great things at Indiana.”
Durham ran the court with the some of the best prep talents in the country and proved he can compete with them. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard wasn’t afraid to play downhill and drive to the paint, and also flashed the ability to find his open teammates with precision passing.
He earned his first bucket three minutes into the game by hitting an up-and-under layup while being fouled. Durham missed the free throw but on the next possession he quickly ran the floor and tried an alley-oop attempt to Smith.
Smith ran into a Lightning teammate on the lob and botched the dunk attempt, but he was able to give it right back to Durham for an easy two points.
“He’s a willing passer,” Smith said of his future teammate. “He got me a couple lobs on a fast break and he can score at the same time so I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Durham also assisted Smith during the dunk contest finals by bouncing the ball off the side of the backboard for his future teammate to catch and throw down.
Durham shot just 2 of 7 in the first half from the field but attacked the basket better in the second half and made 3 of 4 attempts. All five of his made baskets came inside the paint and he only attempted one 3-pointer.
“Just need to get more consistent on my jump shot,” Durham said. “Coaches said it looks great, I just gotta stick to mechanics, follow through, stay square and I’ll be fine.”
Teams Lightning and Thunder had ten men each and split up their teams into two separate lineups while evenly playing everyone. Durham was a difference maker on the court and grabbed two of team Lightning’s six steals while going up against four future Louisville Cardinals and an Iowa State signee.
Durham said playing well in an all-star game of this caliber reassured him he’s able to compete with the best elite talent entering division I basketball next season, and a game like this will only help him in the future.
“It will help me get a start on who I will be playing against next year,” Durham said. “And basically just getting a head start on upgrading my game.”
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