CU basketball gets commitment from junior college guard Maddox Daniels

Maddox Daniels

Maddox Daniels is a southern guy through and through, but a few twists of fate left him playing his senior season of high school basketball in Santa Barbara while living in the Los Angeles area.

During that one-year sojourn, Daniels admits he became intrigued with the possibility of eventually playing basketball in the Pac-12 Conference. What once was a daydream became a reality this week as Daniels, a 6-foot-6 guard from Florida Southwestern junior college in Fort Myers, filled the lone open scholarship at the disposal of Colorado head coach Tad Boyle for the 2019-20 season by pledging a verbal commitment to the Buffaloes at the end of an official visit over the weekend.

Daniels will not be able to make his commitment official until the start of the spring signing period on April 17. He will have two years of eligibility with the Buffs.

“I’ve always had the Pac-12 on my mind,” Daniels said. “When I played basketball my senior year in California, the Pac-12 was always something that was on my mind. I didn’t get to go there right after high school, but it eventually happened and it’s something that I’m really grateful for, the journey I’ve been on. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge, no doubt.”

A native of Suwanee, Georgia, Daniels averaged 7.9 points in 2017-18 as a freshman but broke lose this past season as a sophomore, averaging 13.9 points and 3.0 rebounds with an impressive 3-point percentage of .431. Daniels started all 33 games and averaged just 1.9 assists, but he turned in a solid assist-to-turnover rate of 1.43.

On paper, Daniels fills the exact void left on CU’s roster by the departure of its lone 2019 senior, Namon Wright, who missed the final two months of the season due to a foot injury. Daniels is a bigger guard to complement 6-foot point guard McKinley Wright and 6-foot-2 shooting guard Shane Gatling, and his 3-point prowess also could fill an immediate need for the Buffs.

CU finished with a .323 3-point percentage, the second-lowest of Boyle’s nine-year tenure. That mark trails only the .318 mark compiled by the 2013-14 team, which played the second half of the season without leading 3-point shooter Spencer Dinwiddie.

Of course, it is difficult to discern how junior college numbers will translate to the Pac-12 level — Gatling, last year’s junior college addition, shot .389 from 3-point range a year before joining the Buffs, but shot only .319 from long range this past season as the Buffs’ 3-point percentage dropped from a .359 mark in 2017-18. Nevertheless, when analyzing a roster already largely intact that expects to return everyone from a squad that reached the Pac-12 tournament semifinals and the NIT quarterfinals, Daniels believes he is a perfect fit at CU.

“I was really impressed with just how progressive the school is and everybody’s goals as far as the basketball team goes,” Daniels said. “It was something I really wanted to be part of. I watched the squad a couple times this year on TV, and the coaches have told me what they need. I just want to win.

“The past couple years down in Fort Myers I’ve been able to win, and it feels good when somebody feels like they need you to make that happen.”

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07