The Champ Alum brings luck of the Eagles to the Irish

Oklahoma Christian alumnus Tondrell Durham (95) has made a huge mark on the Oklahoma basketball scene as head boys' coach at Oklahoma City's Bishop McGuiness High School. 

The former Eagle basketball player perfectly weaves a magnetic personality with a zeal for coaching to get results on the court. And the results are remarkable - his Fighting Irish have won six state championships.

Durham came to Oklahoma Christian after an outstanding prep career at H. Grady Spruce High School in Dallas. 

"Coach Hays saw me play in high school and invited me to visit the campus. When I first came to OC, I just felt like it was a good atmosphere with a lot of positive things," Durham said.

The versatile Durham quickly became one of the Eagles' most valuable pieces on the basketball court. The term "Basketball I.Q." is coachspeak for "playing time." And Durham's knowledge of the game was through the roof. The result was his appearance in 126 of 128 games during his OC career. 

The forward also had the Magic Johnson-like ability to play virtually any position on the floor. Though Durham had modest career statistics of 3.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, his value went way past what any stat or score sheet could define. 

"Tondrell could play the one through four positions without a problem. I've only had a handful of guys who could play basically anywhere like he could. We could plug him in anywhere and he would fill the spot perfectly. He was a very, very smart player," OC head basketball coach Hays said.

While Hays leaned on Durham to play important minutes and be an invaluable coach on the court, Durham absorbed the intricacies of leading a team from Hays.

Durham's coaching path began in the summer of 1989 at Oklahoma Christian's famous "Cage Camps." The 6-3, booming-voiced Texan was an instant coaching success. 

"Tondrell was a natural from the beginning," Hays said. "Some guys have it. Some have to work at it and some never get it. But Tondrell had it from the very beginning."

It was on the scorching pavement of Cage Camp's outdoor court sessions that Durham came to know and love the craft.

"My first experience at camp was very hot," Durham said "But I wanted to learn how to coach and motivate kids, and camp gave me an outlet for that very thing. When I was younger, I complained about the long hours, low pay and the heat. But as I continued to work each summer, I began to appreciate Cage Camp because I was learning the game of basketball and I was able to teach kids what I know about the game."

Every summer since, Durham has been found molding young players at Cage Camp, working alongside the man who gave him his start. 

"I learned so many of the basic things from Coach Hays, like do things the right way and pay attention to details," Durham said. "The biggest thing I took from Coach was to always respect the game. Those were some of the best lessons I learned by playing ball under him."

Those lessons paid off. Durham has earned the reputation of being one of Oklahoma's top coaches. The character traits he developed at OC, however, are his most important attribute.

"Going to school at OC taught me discipline and how to manage my time," Durham said. "It also showed me that God is always first and how important relationships and friendships truly are."

By Dave Seat (06)