New Mission boys basketball coach Cory McCarthy knew something was amiss when he saw Samir McDaniels land awkwardly on his tailbone.
Normally, the 6-foot-4 senior swingman would bounce right back up and head down court. But this time, McDaniels remained down, the pain clearly etched across his face.
He would eventually get up and remain in the game against St. John’s Prep, but his effectiveness for the rest of the two-day BABC holiday tournament was greatly diminished.
“Samir is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met,” said McCarthy. “But I could see it in his face that he was hurting and wasn’t sure he could continue. He played but everyone could see that the injury bothered Samir. He didn’t have that explosiveness he usually has.”
This wasn’t quite the way McDaniels, a Herald All-Scholastic last year, envisioned his senior season would unfold. A preseason ankle injury forced him to miss all the scrimmages as well as a season-opening loss to St. Mary’s (N.Y.). The bruised tailbone limited him to single digits in losses to St. John’s Prep and Mansfield.
“It was frustrating for me,” said McDaniels, who helped guide New Mission to the Division 4 state title last season. “I knew I couldn’t do some of things I wanted to do, but I felt I had to be out there for my teammates.”
The saving grace proved to be a week-long break in the schedule. The seven-day respite allowed McDaniels time to rest and recuperate fully from the ankle and tailbone injuries. With a healthy McDaniels back in top form, the Titans are ready to assume their place among the elite in Div. 2, where the Titans moved up two divisions to this season.
In a recent win over previously undefeated Brighton, McDaniels had 19 points and 10 rebounds, constantly beating his man to the basket.
It’s those skills and several others which McCarthy feels make McDaniels a solid college prospect, if schools would take a look.
“I think one of the reasons that Samir is being under-recruited is that they don’t think he can shoot from the outside,” said McCarthy. “In high school, he hasn’t had to do that because he’s quick enough to get right by his man. If you watch him in AAU tournament against some of the top competition, Samir has shown he can handle the ball and shoot from the outside.
“Some college is going to be very lucky to get him.”
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