ZS: How would you describe the evolution of your game during your recent stay at National Top Sports Institute?
DA: I would say my game just grew in a number of ways in myself becoming a more complete overall basketball player. I became a more diverse player and I really buckled down and focused. Really, the whole purpose was to ensure that I filled any notable gaps in my game. I really put my energy into becoming more of a slashing threat.
NTSI was a great place to work at this component of my game, just because of all the competition from my teammates here. Because they all had the ability to get to the rim with ease, it made me work harder on having that element of my game solid. It really worked as I became stronger and adapted to it. And to be honest, I kind of like the idea of being a drive-first guy when necessary.
ZS: What were the most memorable aspects of being in a close-knit, tight community of NTSI’s type? How did it embody the “prep” aspect of the post-grad year?
DA: NTSI’s most memorable experiences were our road trips because they gave us a feel of what the next level is going to be like. Playing against all of the great competition in the northeast and of course beating teams like Mount Zion (Md). Those were experiences I’ll probably always cherish. Those road trips and big moment games allowed us to become tighter as a team and as individuals. We trusted each other and had each other’s back, which is what a team is supposed to be about.
ZS: What was it like adjusting to a new team on the fly, as a mid-season transfer earning a niche as an effective combination guard?
DA: It was tough adjusting to all the fresh faces at first in the middle of the season. Still, I quickly proved myself in the gym and I feel like after proving myself, proving my capabilities, everything else just came into place. I was able to find my niche by winning over the trust of the guys and just performing well on a daily basis. That was critical.
ZS: How would you describe coach Chaney’s high-intensity style?
DA: Like any coach at a successful level, coach Chaney can be tough. You need that to keep pushing forward and getting better. You definitely need to have thick skin, but it prepares you for the next level. He’s doing it for your own benefit, he’s never going to hurt your confidence. So, working under coach Chaney you really have to absorb everything you can and just try to execute. That really comes with the territory of being a true competitor.
ZS: What’s the main difference you’ve noticed from the prep experience, coming from high school?
DA: You have more time and devotion to your game. You also have more time to work as a team. We did everything in unison. We would get to the gym and stretch as a team, hit the weights as a team. Then, we’d have a skills session, team practice, lunch, and another team practice. It’s more hours competing together after school and staying on top of each other’s production. It definitely worked to our advantage. my most memorable part was the traveling it really helped me get used to what the next level will be like and playing against all the great competition in the northeast