It did not take East Noble long at all to make a decision on their new boys basketball coach. Less than a month after it was announced that Ryan Eakins would be leaving the program, the Knights are poised to bring in Brandon Durnell to become the program’s new boys basketball coach.
“I’m really excited to get involved with all the kids throughout the community. I want to build a strong foundation for the program and that starts with getting involved in the elementary and middle schools,” Durnell said.
A fresh face to the coaching scene, Durnell is still highly familiar to the majority of the area. He shined as an all-area performer at Homestead High School, graduating in 2017 after helping lead the Spartans to back to back Sectional titles. During his junior and senior high school seasons, Homestead was 44-10.
Durnell then went on to play at Spring Arbor, where he recently wrapped up his senior season. During his sophomore campaign, Spring Arbor won the NAIA Division II national title and Durnell scored 32 points against Oregon Tech in the final game.
Even while he was enjoying a college basketball career, Durnell dipped his foot into the coaching pool. He spent multiple years assisting during the summer with the TPE program that is headed by former Canterbury coach Chase Sanders. Durnell had played for Sanders in the program and sliding in as an assistant was a natural fit with the group having a lot of success. Currently, he is one of two program directors for the upstart Summit City Elite program that has teams in classes 2022-2025.
“Over the last five years in AAU, first with TPE and now with SCE, I have fell in love with coaching. It became a dream to coach at an Indiana 4A school. I want to help kids accomplish their goals and dreams and help them not make the same mistakes I made,” Durnell said. “I feel I have played under some of the best coaches (Chris Johnson, Chase Sanders, Ryan Cottingham) at their levels and that has prepared me for this opportunity. The biggest thing is the impact that players have on you and the relationships that can be built through a sport. It’s incredibly special.”
The question for Durnell will be what kind of things he learned in his varied playing and coaching experiences that will have him ready to lead a Class 4A program.
“I think I have the advantage of being able to relate to players because I was literally just right where they are. I was just in their shoes. I want to meet these guys wherever they are at in life and walk through this experience with them, while pushing them and holding them accountable,” Durnell said.
At East Noble, Durnell will replace Eakins who confirmed his departure from the school on April 22. Eakins went 75-45 over five seasons including an 8-15 record in the 2020-21 season. The Knights are set to return all but one varsity player from the roster next season, including all-conference performer Chris Hood and his 12.8 point and nine rebound per game averages.
Durnell will become the seventh head coach at East Noble over a 29 season span.
While Durnell’s week is met with a major milestone, it is also one of hardship. Over the past weekend, a Summit City Elite player named Brendyn Stump, who attended Tippecanoe Valley, lost his life after a tragic car accident. Durnell asked us to share the GoFundMe information for Stump’s family, which you can find here.
“Please continue to pray for the Stump family and his friends along with the Tippecanoe Valley community. Having the opportunity to coach B impacted me and has made me a better coach, and more importantly a better man. That kid was really special,” Durnell said. “If able, please go donate and share the GoFundMe page on my social media, the family would really appreciate it. Anything helps! Love you B!”