Bedford basketball star among top NCAA three-point shooters
Nate Darling flourishing with University of Delaware after sitting out last season
A change of scenery is doing a world of good for Bedford, N.S., basketball player Nate Darling.
The 21-year-old sat out all of last season after transferring from the University of Alabama-Birmingham to the University of Delaware.
He's now flourishing with his new team and is currently one of the hottest long-distance shooters in the NCAA.
Darling scored a team high 28 points Tuesday night as Delaware remained unbeaten following a 79-64 win over Saint Francis University. He is the Blue Hens' leading scorer, averaging 26.4 points per game, fifth best in the NCAA.
His three-point shooting is making everyone in U.S. college basketball take note. The six-foot-five-inch guard has made 23 three pointers in just five games, and only one other player has scored more than him. He's shooting a remarkable 57 per cent from beyond the three-point line.
"I just thought I needed a change because [University of Alabama-Birmingham] just wasn't the right fit for me. And it had nothing to do with the coaches or anything, I just wanted a different style of play," said Darling.
"I like a fast-paced, uptempo game where you shoot a lot of threes and that's how Delaware plays."
So far this season Darling and the Delaware style of play have been a perfect fit.
But he said getting to this point was gut-wrenching at times and sitting out all of last season was difficult.
High-level basketball has been his way of life since he left his Bedford home at the age of 14 to play at a prep school in the U.S.
But those three years Darling spent at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., helped catch the attention of many college basketball programs.
"I definitely had some tough times at first and wanted to come back home, but I stuck it out and I think it has really helped me out in the long run," said Darling, who had a dozen college scholarship offers.
While Darling was improving his game in high school, what he did during the summer months back home in Nova Scotia was outstanding.
He was named MVP in the under-17 division of the 2015 Canadian national basketball championships. The tournament was played at Saint Mary's University in Halifax where his father, Jason, played college ball.
Darling scored 50 points in the championship game as Nova Scotia upset Ontario in overtime to claim the gold medal.
"Those teammates are like my boys for life, that was a cherished moment I'll never forget, we were so excited," said Darling.
Darling also played for Canada in the 2016 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in Valdivia, Chile. The Canadians lost to a powerful U.S. team in the gold-medal game.
Darling is hoping the Delaware Blue Hens can make it to the NCAA tournament in March.
So far, the team has yet to lose in six games.
Four of their wins came in a pre-season tournament where Darling was named MVP. He hit eight of 10 three pointers and scored 37 points to lead Delaware to a victory in the championship game.