Five Things to Know: DARIUS BAZLEY
On March 13, twelve players were named to the 2018 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that will take on the World Select Team in the Nike Hoop Summit on Friday, April 13, at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, and versatile forward Darius Bazley (Princeton H.S./Cincinnati, OH) was one of them.
The 6-foot-9 All-American born in Boston spoke with USABasketball.com about his first opportunity to represent the USA in competition.
Basketball Became His Thing in High School
Bazley is the first to admit that he hasn’t been at this since he started walking. He wasn’t even that serious about the game, he says, until his freshman year of high school.
“I started having a dream of getting to the NBA,” he said. “My high school coach helped me realize that if this is something that I really wanted to do, I had to lock in, get focused and start taking it seriously. My freshman year is when I really started trying to take control of my own destiny with basketball.”
As a junior in 2016-17, he sat out the team’s first 11 games due to transfer rules, but then helped Princeton to 15 wins, the school’s most since 2011-12. This season, Bazley averaged 15.3 points per game for the 22-4 Vikings.
Over the summer, he averaged 15.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.5 percent from the field for Meanstreets on the Nike EYBL circuit.
Check out highlights SLAM HS Hoops posted to Twitter just last month:
— SLAM HS Hoops (@SLAMonline_HS) February 28, 2018
New York Summers
Bazley originally was an Ohio State commit, a decision he reversed in April 2017. The thought of playing in-state, in Columbus, Ohio, warmed his heart initially, but the summer sunshine of Syracuse, New York, ultimately won him over. He committed to the Orange in July 2017 and inked his letter of intent this past November.
“When I de-committed from Ohio State, I told myself, hey, you need to make a pros and cons list to help think this over, but when I went to Syracuse for my visit, there were no cons. Well, actually, the only con is that it gets super cold, but I mean, you have to get over that.”
But, other than that, he couldn’t find any negatives in choosing Syracuse.
“I felt like it was the right place for me,” he explained. “The coaches kept it real with me. They didn’t try to sell it to me. I knew they wanted me, but it wasn’t like they were trying to sell me something. They really, legitimately meant what they said, and I knew them to be good people.”
Ready for the Red, White and Blue
When Bazley arrived to Colorado Springs, Colorado, this past October for the USA Men’s Junior National Team minicamp, he couldn’t help but soak it in.
“When I was just sitting in that team meeting room the first day, I thought to myself, man I really want to be able to do this,” he recalled. “This would mean a lot, because there were a lot of great guys there. I thought to myself, I hope these guys like me. I hope they think that I can help bring back a W and want me to be a part of this team.”
Actually, while Bazley had squared off against many of the others during the summer period, he was still in a bit of awe.
“Every time I get around these guys, I’m one of their biggest fans. It wasn’t too long ago that I was watching their highlight tapes and now all of a sudden, I’m in the same room and I’m mentioned in the same breath.”
After his performance at the USA Basketball October minicamp, Rivals posted highlights on YouTube:
In being named to the 2018 USA Men’s Junior National Select Team, he joins eight others as first-timers on a USA Basketball team.
“Not to knock the others, but they told us this isn’t an all-star game. This is USA versus the World, and I love that. The day Samson (Kayode, USA Basketball assistant director, men’s national team) called me and told me, I couldn’t believe it. I’m going to embrace this opportunity. This means a lot to me.”
Big Cartoon Guy
“People kind of look at me like I’m tall, and I have a kind of mean face, but I’m really a loveable guy. I like being around kids, and I watch a lot of cartoons,” he said.
“Phineas and Ferb” and “SpongeBob SquarePants” are two of his favorites. And, of course, “Fortnite” is his most played video game at the moment.
A Fixer Upper?
Could a real estate license be in his future?
“I like real estate. I watch “House Hunters” a lot – that’s probably the only real regular person show I do watch.
“It’s because I like satisfying people. When I see the people go to a realtor and that person gets them what they like, the faces that the people have when they try to buy the home, I like that stuff. I would maybe want to buy a house that is damaged or run down and flip it into something beautiful to sell to someone.”
The 2018 Nike Hoop Summit will be played at 7 p.m. PDT on Friday, April 13 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available at bit.ly/nikehoopsummit2018.