Sometimes in life the direct route does not take you where you are going. For Dylan Darling, it got him there anyway.
Darling on Wednesday signed a national letter of intent to play basketball in Washington State. He signed it at his home in Liberty Lake in front of dozens of family members and friends – and athletes from at least four other Greater Spokane League schools.
Wednesday’s signing was a long way to go for the kid who came off the bench to play defense and allow older teammates to breathe in the Central Valley’s race for the State 4A title fight in Darling’s second season.
“I’m super excited,” Darling said before the festivities. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a while and it’s finally here and it’s super exciting.”
“We’re excited to have Dylan be a part of our program,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said through a school release.
“He is exactly the type of student-athlete we will continue to build around. Dylan was born to be at WSU and is a Coug throughout. As this year’s (Washington) 4A player, we are lucky to be able to pick him up and hope to continue to pick up players like him in the future. His desire and passion for the game is a rarity and we are delighted that Dylan is coming to Palouse and fulfilling his dream of becoming a Coug. “
Darling is the Wazzu legacy – both his parents, James and Kim, are WSU candidates. His father played football for four years at WSU and was honored first team All-Pac-10 twice and second team Sporting News All-American as a senior. He went on to play 10 years in the NFL.
“It’s a dream come true,” Dylan Darling said.
“I took the phone with me (Smith) and I was with my father,” he said. “I told my dad we were crying together. I called my mom, she was crying. It’s still crazy for me, surreal.
“Growing up with a Coug with both parents going there and just growing up knowing what it is, what a Coug is, and being able to do it yourself – it’s pretty special.”
“Kim and I both looked at each other a little.” Did we hear that right? “” Said James Darling. “And so I actually asked the question again, and we thought, ‘Wow.’ We could not believe it.
“He’s been (going to) football games down there since he was – I mean, we carried him back to the car because he slept, he was so young. And now we’re going down there to see him play games. It was an incredible feeling. for us.”
Darling played a key role from the bench his second year, then hit the pandemic and limited his junior season to a dozen matches – competitions in which he took on the role of a traditional distributing point guard.
He made his breakthrough during his senior year, breaking several team and league scoring records along the way. He smashed Adam Morrison’s league score with seven points, averaging 35.6 points over 13 league games.
“I think it talks a lot about the type of character he has,” said acting resume coach Geoff Arte. “He just likes to win. And he did what it took for CV basketball to win.
Darling averaged 33.2 points (at 55% shooting) in total, while adding 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.4 steals per game.
In addition to his season records, the star guard set the league’s scoring mark in a single game, scoring 58 points in a win over North Central on February 1 – a week after scoring 47 against Mt. Spokane, who had drawn the league’s single-play mark.
In the postseason, Darling took his game to another level, speeding up the Bears to elimination matches in district and regional tournaments before bowing to fourth-seeded Kamiakin in the state. In that game, Darling scored 30 points, hit 12 of 16 at the free-throw line and made nine assists while guarding Kamiakin’s 6-foot-8 record Tyler Bilodeau (Oregon State) most of the second half.
For the 6-2 point guard, the journey has been worth the result.
“It’s super satisfying,” he said. “It just shows in a way that it really is a marathon. Just keep going and work hard and it got me here and I’m happy.”
“It’s great for him and his family,” Arte said. “I mean, being a legacy at WSU and getting to play there. He’s just worked so hard to get to play college basketball. So every time a kid can keep those dreams alive, it’s pretty fun.”
Darling had made a verbal commitment to Idaho State earlier in the season, but when his huge run in postseason games made the Cougars reach out, his decision was clear.
“It was everything I could have imagined and wanted it for,” he said of his final year. “We had a few bumps in the road but just kept going. The boys fought all year. I love them all. Love coach Arte. I mean it was perfect. And we had a lot more success than we should have had. It was a hell of a year. “
With WSU heading to the NIT semifinals, Darling’s goals for the future at WSU are pretty simple.
“I want to run in the tournament. March Madness,” he said. “Hopefully you win some Pac-12 titles. Really enjoy the four years that (high school) flew by. Just enjoy it, have some success and just have fun. ”
Other area designations
Gonzaga preparation: Erin Ewers, Colorado College (football); John Finnegan, Whitworth (football); Noelani Krauss, Santa Clara (cross country); Bella Mazza, Whitworth (lacrosse); Jayden Stevens, Oregon State (basketball); Ephraim Watkins, Whitworth (football).
Mead: Erika Frahm, Seattle Pacific (football); JT Connors, Menlo College (wrestling); Kelsey Loeun, Simon Fraser (wrestling); Brycen Gardner, Carroll College (cross country and track); Emily Hutchinson, Cal State Northridge (athletics); Spencer Lyman, Whitworth (football); Courtney Osborn, Saint Martin’s (cross-country skiing); Kris Prince, Carroll College (football); Nick Sill, Briar Cliff (football); Mercedes Cullen, Seattle Pacific (football); Madi Zorn, Saint Mary’s (volleyball); Alexis Parker, Western Washington (Cross Country); Alanna Parker, western Washington (cross country).
North Central: Isabella Bay, Western Washington (fastpitch softball); Ben Hippauf, Whitworth (football).
University: Will Kennedy, Evergreen State College (basketball).