In Nashville, Tennessee Billy Fennelly was at an AAU tournament recruiting and it wasn’t long into his visit when he caught a glimpse of 6-foot tall Emily Durr out of Utica, New York. Durr was just tearing up and down the court and he knew right off the bat she was unique.
Fennelly was originally there to recruit someone on the opposing team, but he immediately picked up the phone and told head coach Bill Fennelly who was recruiting on another court that he needed to take a look at Durr.
It wasn’t long after that the phone rang for Durr’s AAU coach and she hesitantly took the call.
“I took the phone call and it just kind of piqued my interest,” Durr said. “At the time I was like, that’s way too far out I’ll just call them and see how things go. I never thought I would choose here.”
But she did choose the Cyclones.
Durr credits the lack of negative recruiting to helping her make her decision.
“They believe that the product they’re showing the recruits is really good and they don’t have to stoop down and know what other schools you’ve been looking at or know how they could do better in this,” she said. “I think they really believe in the Iowa State Way and that’s the way I wanted to be, and it just kind of fit for me.”
When Durr was searching for the right college program to fit her game. She didn’t want a coach to sugarcoat things she wanted someone to make her a better player.
“I really enjoy having a coach that pushes you and doesn’t just fill into your ego or just let you do what you want,” she said. “I really like coaches that put their foot down and are like this is how you’re going to be if you’re going to get better you’re going to do this. I’ve really enjoyed having tough coaches.”
However, Durr’s path to Iowa State started long before the AAU tournament in Nashville. In fact it started when she was 3 years old. Durr’s father is the high school men’s basketball coach at Notre Dame High School and at the age of 3 she used to practice her shot with a child-sized basketball during half time. It was no surprise she stole the show, often giving a more entertaining halftime performance than the cheerleaders.
When she entered the second grade she asked her parents if she could play organized basketball. The answer was a resounding yes for a family that had basketball in their blood. All five Durr children played at least high school basketball.
“There was really no pressure from my family to play, but it was just kind of determined that you are going to play basketball, and I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Durr learned the most about the sport from her father, who has been a high school coach for 20 years.
“I think the biggest thing is he’s taught me the mental side of basketball,” Durr said. “You always have to be on your feet and it always has to be in your mind that it’s not just a physical game, it’s mental. I think I get my basketball IQ from him. He’s just helped me see different scenarios; he’s always helped me with my shot and everything like that.”
Since arriving at Iowa State, Durr has been a strong addition to the Cyclones. She is averaging 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds in 18.3 minutes of action. Durr is also knocking down 46.2 percent of her shots from the floor.
Durr says getting a lot of playing time right off the bat wasn’t necessarily what she expected, but it certainly was something she wanted during her first year with the Cyclones.
“I don’t know what your expectations are coming in as a freshman when you have such good guards that are here already that are older,” she said. “I am a little surprised that I’ve gotten so much playing time, but I’m glad that coach has confidence in me that I can step in there in big games and close games and give him a little spark off the bench. I’m just happy to help the team in any way that I can.”