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Fleming grad, VCU star Troy Daniels has ‘million-dollar arm'
Troy Daniels, finishing up his career with VCU, has made a mark with his shooting skills.
Troy Daniels has scored 104 3-point shots so far this season, attributing his skill to constant practice since high school.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
The Ashley Plantation neighborhood, with $400,000-plus homes on a golf course in Botetourt County, contains signs like these along Greenfield Street, because a convicted sex offender’s wife is building a home in the community. The husband, Calvert Anthony Thompson, has a history of sexually assaulting young women but was released from prison in June and has reconciled with his wife of 20 years. ]
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
RICHMOND — If they ever make a movie about Virginia Commonwealth University standout Troy Daniels, he should be played by —
Well, no. Daniels, a William Fleming High School graduate, looks nothing like Redford.
But VCU men's basketball coach Shaka Smart did refer to the old Redford baseball movie "The Natural" when discussing Daniels' knack for shooting 3-pointers.
"He has a gift, just a flat-out gift," Smart said last week. "It's kind of like the movie 'The Natural' - they talk about the guy having a million-dollar arm.
"He's been blessed with a tremendous shooting stroke."
Daniels, a senior who will play his final home game tonight, makes an average of 3.6 3-pointers per game - the fifth-best average in the country.
He is averaging 12.6 points for the Rams, who are ranked No. 21 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Rams are a safe bet to make the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.
"A lot of people from back home said I couldn't do it in college, and I'm doing it now," Daniels said. "I'm going to go back after the season and talk to some young kids in Roanoke, just to motivate them and let them know I'm one of them. I used to be in their shoes."
Always a shooter
VCU will honor its seniors in a pregame ceremony tonight before they play Richmond. Daniels will walk onto the court with his mother and stepfather, his father and stepmother, and an aunt.
Daniels' mother, Cheryl Twine, said her son developed a shooting touch when he was a little kid.
"I bought him a 'Little Tikes' goal and put it out in the back yard and I would take him out there every day and tell him, 'Shoot the ball. Shoot the ball,' " Twine said.
As a William Fleming sophomore, Daniels helped his team win the state title. He had 22 points in the 2007 Group AA championship game at the Siegel Center, where Daniels now stars for VCU.
Fleming moved back up to Group AAA after that school year. Daniels helped the Colonels reach the 2009 Group AAA final at the Siegel Center as a senior. He was the Timesland boys basketball player of the year that season, when he averaged 16.3 points.
"I've never had a different name other than, 'He's a shooter,' " Daniels said. "I don't know what it is about that 3 line, but I kind of love it."
Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Marquette were interested in him, but Daniels said they were waiting to see if he would meet NCAA academic standards.
On Easter Sunday in 2009, Smart paid a visit to Daniels' home. Smart had recently been named VCU's coach, and he offered Daniels a scholarship.
"They kind of stuck their neck out," Daniels said of the VCU staff.
Daniels signed with VCU - and wound up qualifying academically to play as freshman.
Making a mark
VCU made a surprising run to the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA tournament when Daniels was a sophomore, but he was only a minor part of that team.
He missed 11 games that season with a broken foot. He returned for the NCAA tournament and got brief playing time in five of those games, including the final 20 seconds of the Final Four loss to Butler.
Daniels became a starter last season. VCU clinched an automatic NCAA bid with a 59-56 win over Drexel in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title game. Daniels made four free throws in the final 19 seconds to seal that win. He had 10 points in the team's NCAA tournament win over Wichita State.
He averaged 10 points that season and broke the VCU single-season record for 3-pointers with 94.
This season, Daniels has broken his own record with 104 3-pointers.
"I never would've thought I'd break any records," he said. "Coming here, I just thought I'd be able to play basketball and go to school for free."
He made 11 3-pointers and scored 33 points in a Jan. 2 win over East Tennessee State.
In early January, Daniels led NCAA Division I with an average of 4.3 3-pointers. He is now tied for fifth with an average of 3.6.
"When I shoot the ball, I feel like it's going in every single time," Daniels said.
Daniels is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range.
"He works on his craft, his shooting, harder than anyone on this team," Smart said. "What that's helped him do is create more consistency in his shooting. His first few years, he was all over the place."
Daniels would practice twice a day at VCU in the summertime, putting up 1,000 shots a day.
"Coach Smart has really instilled that in me over the course of four years - getting in the gym all the time, shooting endless shots at night when people are out having fun," Daniels said. "It gives me an edge on other opponents. I feel like I've done more than them."
Two weekends ago, he scored 19 points and drained five 3-pointers in a win over Xavier
"He's a phenomenal shooter," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "He's a human 9-0 run. You have to account for his presence very single second when he's on the floor.
"He plays like a big-time player."
In a nationally televised win over Butler last weekend, Daniels scored a game-high 20 points and made four 3-pointers to help VCU improve to 23-6 overall and 11-3 in its new conference, the Atlantic 10.
"It's amazing that I'm playing a big part on this great team," he said.
VCU's fast-break offense is triggered by the many steals the Rams make with their pressure defense, branded "Havoc" by Smart.
"Coach Smart has really helped me take pride in my defense," Daniels said. "Defense was not on my mind in high school."
Daniels, a criminal justice major, plans to graduate in May. He hopes to play professional basketball.
An NBA scout who asked not to be named because teams don't allow scouts to comment publicly on prospects said he does not expect Daniels to be taken in the NBA draft in June. But he said Daniels could be invited to play in the NBA summer league, and that could earn him an invitation to an NBA training camp. If not, said the scout, Daniels could play professionally overseas.
Smart also said Daniels could have a pro career.
"The ability to put the ball in the basket from way out is something at any level coaches value," Smart said. "He's got a chance to make money playing basketball. Exactly where and with who, I don't know. But he has a skill set that is very, very rare."
But a pro career can wait. Daniels hopes VCU can make another splash in the NCAA tournament, which begins in two weeks.
"I've got a lot of highlights," Daniels said of his career. "And there's a lot more to come, hopefully."
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