PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Durrell Robinson steps down as Danville coach

Apr. 13—DANVILLE — Durrell Robinson seems to have a good sense of timing.

Five years ago, he said it was the right time for him to the head men's basketball coaching job at Danville High School.

And now he says it is the right time to leave.

Danville officially announced that Robinson has stepped down to embark on a new journey with his family.

"I made the decision a while back after spring break. The time is now to leave and leave things in a good place and move on," Robinson said. "My wife and I are ready to move on. We have ties in other places and that's where we feel where are led to in order to raise our kids.

"Everything has been based around timing. When we came back to Danville, it was the perfect time for me and my wife as far as family situations, because we had grandparents who were up in age, my mom is wheelchair-bound and we had a daughter was in high school and we spent some quality time with her."

Robinson was not here just to make the team better, but to make the student-athletes better.

"With me coming from Danville, I could see myself in them and relating to them," Robinson said. "The biggest thing for me was being a mentor and this is bigger than basketball. Being able to work in the school building has been one of the biggest joys and reaching out to the kids in the classroom and talk and see what is going on with them."

One of the things Robinson did was start the Watchfire Shootout a few years ago. It was a chance to not only bring more competition for the Vikings, it was a chance to showcase Danville to new eyes.

"That was something I wanted to do. Me and (District 118 Athletic Director Mark) Bacys did that to show off Danville," Robinson said. "Some of these teams we get, there will be fans that have never been there. So we wanted to show that there is greatness in Danville. People outside the city see things in the news that are not good and we wanted to show the great side of Danville. So I was blessed to start an in-season shootout and I told Bacys that we wanted to do this right and word would travel. In the last few years, more teams asked about coming and we have had some great competition and we have Division I kids who have played in Danville."

Tough competition was something that Robinson always wanted for the team and while his record at Danville was 52-79, he looks at what battles with major high school teams has brought.

"I wanted to present opportunities for my kids," Robinson said. "I scheduled tough games against some the best teams because we wanted to make our kids better and give them opportunities. A lot of the teams we played were state-ranked or had a Division I player. Now we have a lot more eyes on our kids. They had some Big Ten and Big 12 coaches take a look at them.

"We played teams from South Carolina and Indiana shootouts this season. We always go up to Chicago to play some tough teams and we did the Pontiac Tournament. So the whole thing was to challenge the kids and give them opportunities to one day play in college and I have been happy to see at least one player go either in the junior college, NAIA, Division II or Division I. We got players in every level. We have Martez (Rhodes), who is going to Culver-Stockton, we have Robert Stroud at Lewis University, we have Tevin Smith at Cleveland State and we have O'Shawn Jones-Winslow at Kansas City Community College. I also got two of my graduating seniors going to junior colleges."

Overall, Robinson is happy about the impact he has made in his five years, especially building the young men for better things.

"That is the best part of it," Robinson said. "To see those young men grow and leave to either go to college or stay here and work and be productive. We try tot each them the right ways of doing things and that's the best thing.

"I have had a great group of young men and they are all different. That's what's great about Danville in that there are so many kids with so many stories that no one really knows because you just seem them on game night. There are good and bad situations, but it is the joy of coaching."

Robinson also leaves behind a staff that was great and helped him in every way.

"I appreciate my staff of David Gouard, Daylen Davis-Williams and D'Lando Carter," Robinson said. "They do so much work and they do it willingly because they do it for our kids. They made my job a lot easier."

The announcement from school Athletic Director Gary Gritton said that the search for a new head coach will begin immediately to ensure a smooth transition for the upcoming season.