Boys Basketball: Alex Darville downsizes for Niles West
Niles West's Alex Darville (front, from left) knocks the ball away from Maine South's Danny Quinn in Skokie, IL on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. | Shauna Bittle~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:52PM
SKOKIE — Alex Darville routinely found himself out of position in the one month he played on Joy of the Game 17 Red II this summer.
Darville, listed as 6-foot-3, primarily played shooting guard or small forward during his junior season at Niles West, but at Joy of the Game he was asked to adapt to the team’s needs. Because 17 Red II only had one player taller than Darville, coach Zack Ryan regularly put the Niles West senior at power forward or center.
Defensively, the task was daunting. Darville was forced to front taller players in the post, using his quickness to try to dissuade guards from feeding the ball inside. On the offensive end, however, Darville was the perfect piece for Joy of the Game. He brought versatility to the team and allowed the squad to play an up-tempo style that was a major reason why it demolished expectations to finish sixth out of 88 teams in Division II at AAU Nationals.
“As soon as I met (Darville) and watched him play I knew he was going to fit in perfectly,” Ryan said. “He was one of the reasons why we got as far as we did (at nationals). He meshed with the guys — all of the guys liked him. He didn’t come in and try to take over; he came in and kind of eased his way into the thick of things. And by the time we were in the round of 32, the round of 16, he was one of our best players.”
Darville switched to Joy of the Game in July after playing for Full Package Athletics in the spring.
Darville’s spring AAU session ended with a sprained ankle, just like it did one year ago. While a sprained ankle might not seem significant, to Darville, who missed six weeks after spraining his right ankle last summer, it was a frustrating moment.
“It was a here-we-go-again kind of thing,” said Darville, a Skokie resident. “Because of last time, I knew a lot of the rehab exercises I did, so right after it happened I started doing those right away so I could get right back to playing. I’ve gone through physical therapy and it feels 100 percent right now.”
With Nationals closing out the final AAU basketball tournament of the summer, Darville’s focus now shifts to golf. He’ll play on Niles West’s golf team this fall before returning to basketball.
Darville will also try to find a suitable college destination, one that allows him to play basketball while also studying engineering.
Although he played for Ryan for only a month, Darville left a positive impression on his Joy of the Game coach, especially with the way he played at AAU Nationals, in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I think he could be a very, very good Division III player somewhere because he works extremely hard and he’s very coachable,” Ryan said. “He was one of the most coachable kids we had. He takes what you have to say to him and he uses it. And he’s skilled. He can play a variety of positions because he’s kind of middle sized — he’s 6-2 and a wing — but for us he had to get down and grind with big guys. He can rebound, he can step out and shoot — he’s pretty versatile.”