When he entered MacMurray College, Nokomis graduate Derek Bourke did so as an older freshman.
Maybe the fact that he was 22 years old, the typical age of most traditional seniors in college, or had a taste of life away from school already prepared him to not only be a good student, but a good Highlander athlete as well.
“It was tough getting back into basketball shape,” recalled Bourke, who was a force for the basketball team and was not afraid to take a charge, piling up 156 during his career. “I was four years from active competition in the sport, not to mention the classroom. I had to get back into basketball shape, which was not easy at all. I also had to learn how to go back to school again for lack of a better phrase. Not only was the curriculum more difficult, the competition was a huge step up from what I remember from high school.”
But, the record will show that age is just a number and for Bourke, the numbers he put up were more than significant to help the basketball team post two winning seasons and win a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. In the classroom, he was equally adept at posting good numbers.
In his final year, Bourke, played in 24 games and made 21 starts. He averaged 24.6 minutes per game. In those 24 games, the former Redskin player, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound forward, scored 267 points and pulled down 143 rebounds, respective averages of 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. During the 2018-19 campaign, he also had 59 assists, 28 steals and eight blocked shots. He was one of four athletes to score in double figures that year.
The former Redskin, who will be going to his 10-year reunion in one year, wasted little time in making an impact or putting a college championship ring on his finger.
In his first year as a Highlander, they would post a 15-11 overall record and a 12-6 mark in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which won the conference title. Bourke started almost half of the games and played in all 26 games that year. He made 12 starts and averaged 15.8 minutes per game over the 26-game season. In his freshman season, he scored 142 points and pulled down 99 rebounds, respective averages of 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. He also had 25 assists and nine steals.
As he exhibited during his entire career, Bourke was proficient from the floor. In his rookie season, he nailed 56.3 percent of his shots, hitting 54-of-96 from the floor. He hit 34-of-54 from the charity stripe.
“I learned a lot by playing college basketball,” said Bourke. “Most importantly, I learned that I did not need to be the scorer or anything like that. I did the little things, which I have done my best at doing those since I was very young. As the years went by, I improved and I helped out wherever the team needed me to help out and whatever would make the team better as a unit.”
For his career, he scored 694 points and pulled down 386 rebounds, respective averages of 7.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over a 99 game career. He made 46 starts. He also had 137 assists, 63 steals and 12 blocked shots. Bourke scored his points by bucketing 276-of-502 from the field, a percentage of 55 percent, and 138-of-225 from the charity stripe, a percentage of 61.3 percent. In addition, he had 137 assists, 63 steals and 12 blocked shots.
The Highlander forward earned the SLIAC All-Sportsmanship team twice. He was also recognized as a MacMurray Student Leader of the Month and MacMurray Student Leader of the Year. He also was named The Bill Wall Award winner, which is another MacMurray honor for sportsmanship.
The son of George and Dianna Bourke of Pana, formerly of Nokomis, earned a double major in 2019. He has degrees in sports management and business administration. He also earned a minor in marketing. He left MacMurray graduating Magna Cum Laude, as he posted a 3.8 grade point average. He was on the MacMurray Dean’s List every semester. He was named to three national honor societies, Mortar Board, Sigma Beta Delta and Chi Alfa Sigma.
“It is an honor to have graduated from MacMurray and to be one of the final classes from that institution,” said Bourke referring to the recent news of MacMurray closing at the end of the 2020 school year. “I had an amazing time there and made so many memories with a bunch of great people. But, I feel the pain of the current players, students and most of all the faculty. It was not the wealthiest or the biggest, but I can promise you that every faculty member is more worried about whether or not their students have another college/university to attend before they worry about themselves and their situation. I think in the future, I will coach basketball as my nieces and nephew grow older and start playing, as well as whenever I have children. I would enjoy coaching my children if the opportunity arises.”
Presently, the MacMurray graduate has taken over his father’s taxidermy business, Bourke’s Taxidermy in Pana. He has also met the requirements to be a licensed home inspector.