UW-L's Yurk worth the wait - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UW-L's Yurk worth the wait

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Devin Yurk wasn't interested in basketball after high school. Burnt out from his senior season, the thought of playing at the college level months later didn't sound fun.

Never mind it was at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He just wanted to focus on something else.

"Took two years off from basketball. I didn't really pick up a ball, never went to the Rec or anything," Yurk said. "Last year in intramurals that fire sort of came back and that competitive edge. Definitely missed that, definitely missed running out in front of a crowd."

Yurk had kept in contact with Eagles head coach Ken Koelbl for three years despite the disinterest in joining the team. He asked Koelbl after the Eagles' 2014-15 season ended if he could give basketball another try by participating in individual workouts.

"He came and did some of those, wasn't overly regular with that. I think he was just trying to figure out if this is something I could do," Koelbl said. "When I met with him before he went home for the summer, he just said the biggest challenge would be 'Can I make this commitment and this step that needs to be taken to do this?'"

When Yurk arrived on campus in the fall, he proved that and more, starting all nine of UW-L's games to date. He leads the team in minutes played, points scored and three-point field goals, all as a first-year college player.

"I definitely feel more at home out on the court at a college level than at the rec," Yurk said. "Often times it felt a little dangerous out there. You really didn't know what those guys were going to do to you or stuff like that. Getting back out there was really nice for me."

Koelbl said Yurk has handled the physical transition between intramural and collegiate play well.

"If you didn't know his story, I think you would find it a little hard to believe that he hasn't been playing for the last three years," Koelbl said. "Usually the biggest transition when somebody goes from playing high school to college is just the speed and how things change from an intensity standpoint. But I think he's just fit in really well."

Yurk has a chance to play for the Eagles next year if he stays on campus to study physical therapy for graduate school. Koelbl has already applied some light pressure.

"I'd definitely love to play another year, seeing that's all that I have left," Yurk said. "We'll see what happens."

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