Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School standout Rhett Darland is set to continue his hoops career as a member of the Waldorf University men’s basketball team.
The 6-foot-3 guard, who’ll be a three-year varsity starter and letter winner following his senior season, signed a letter of intent with the Warriors on Friday to officially become the first member of the program’s 2018-19 recruiting class.
“I am very happy to add Rhett to our program,” Waldorf coach Nigel Jenkins said. “He is a blue-collar, hard-hat and lunch-pail type of kid. He works very hard on improving his game and I expect that to continue when he gets here.”
Darland led Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in scoring with 15.1 points a game, shooting 43.2 percent from the field and a team-high 38.9 percent from 3-point range as a junior last season.
“He is a big guard who shoots the ball well from three and we’re looking for that,” Jenkins said. “He has gotten better every year and I fully expect him to have a great senior season.”
Darland capped the 2016-17 campaign with second-team all-conference honors from the North Central Conference (NCC). He converted on 84.6 percent of his trips to the free-throw line while also averaging 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists. The Cowboys finished the season with a 12-12 record and placed fourth in the NCC with a 7-7 conference record. Darland was also a third-team all-conference selection as a sophomore.
Though Darland still has his senior season to look forward to, the chance to play at Waldorf has him excited for the next chapter of his career.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play basketball at the collegiate level,” Darland said. “I’ve been working my whole life to be able to get the opportunity to do this and it’s an incredible feeling to know that all of the hard work has paid off.”
Darland knows not every student-athlete is fortunate enough to compete beyond high school and it’s something he’s embracing after committing to the Warriors.
“Anybody who gets to play the sport they love at the next level is incredibly lucky and blessed, in my opinion,” Darland said. “I’m honored that the coaching staff and Waldorf University have given me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of playing college basketball.”
Darland is the son of Kelly Darland and will pursue an elementary education degree at Waldorf. He said the small-town atmosphere and feeling he got when visiting campus led him to joining the Warriors. Forest City is also less than an hour away from Darland’s hometown.
“The atmosphere at Waldorf University is incredible,” Darland said. “Forest City is very similar to my hometown and I really see myself feeling comfortable and enjoying myself on the Waldorf campus.”
Waldorf’s coaching staff also did their part to make Darland feel at home, making the program feel like a family.
“The coaching staff is incredible and Coach Jenkins makes sure to always check up on me and make me feel like part of the Waldorf family, which I think was a big selling point,” Darland said. “The basketball team is heading in the right direction and I feel like I will fit in well with the team.”
The support system throughout the community and the university’s faculty and staff also appealed to Darland when choosing where to further his education.
“I know the main objective of going to college is to receive a degree and be career-ready, and I know Waldorf will help me in my goal of doing that,” Darland said. “After taking a few visits, I really enjoyed every aspect of the university and I knew I wanted to be a Warrior. I’m truly excited about every aspect of attending Waldorf University.”
The Warriors tip off the 2017-18 season on Oct. 28 when they host Silver Lake College in a 4 p.m. matchup. It’ll be another year before Darland arrives on campus, but Jenkins is excited to jumpstart the 2018-19 recruiting class with area talent.
“Rhett’s passion and desire to come to Waldorf made him even more desirable,” Jenkins said. “He did his homework, visited multiple times and knew that this was the place for him before he committed. We are very fortunate to have Rhett and his family in our program. I look forward to working with him.”