Composer. Producer. Musician. Actor. Dancer.
There’s more to Darnell Gant (left), Washington’s junior power forward, than meets the eye. He’s a young man of many blossoming talents.
First and foremost, he’s focused on basketball, the Huskies and the upcoming season, which promises as much as last season’s campaign that finished in the Sweet 16.
As a redshirt freshman, Gant started 33 of 34 games and averaged 18.3 minutes per game alongside future NBA players Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter. Last year, however, he appeared in 35 games, but started 11. Gant averaged 11.7 minutes and the decreased playing time caused a dip in his scoring (3.1 to 2.5) and rebounding (3.3 to 2.4).
While the 2009-10 season was a success for UW, admittedly Gant struggled with off-court issues that affected his play. In Part II of our interview, he opened up about those issues and talked candidly about his undefined role on the team.
Photo credit: Getty Images – Jeff Gross
(I know last year was tough personally. Are you okay to talk about it?) “I’m fine.”
(So what happened?) “Last year was real hard because in the beginning of the year, we started off and I had a family member that was close die and pass on.”
(Who was that?)“My cousin. Then after the Midnight Madness I got sick and I was out for a week and I lost weight and I was real behind. I had to get back in condition and everything.”
(I remember a lot of guys got sick back then. What caused that?) “I don’t know what caused it. I just got real sick. Then later on, my grandfather got put in the hospital and he was in there for awhile. And later on, after the season he passed. But I’m going through games and practices thinking about him and thinking about what’s going on back home. He was sicker than what I thought he was. It was just a lot of stuff like that. It was tough because I’m trying to focus and do what he would want me to do on the basketball court, but I’m worrying about so many other things and it was hindering me. I don’t know, I got into like a stupor or something. I was off. But at the same time I knew I couldn’t stray away from the team. Even though I wasn’t playing as much, I’m on the end of the bench cheering them on. I felt like that was my job. I couldn’t be selfish and get all into myself and not care about them. We had a goal as a team from the beginning. And I’m always down for my team. They’re my brothers. They’re like my family.”
(For the past two years, you’ve won the Coaches Award [that’s given to the UW player with the best attitude], which says something about your character and your commitment to the team.)
“Yeah, the team is always important to me. I feel like if you don’t have the team as a unit, you don’t have nothing. I can confidently say there’s no other team in the nation that as a group, I don’t see anybody being like us. I really feel like we’re all family. We’re all behind each other. We talk trash on the court and we do a lot of talking and bickering at each other sometimes and that’s the competitive nature. But at the same time we’re behind each other 100 percent. We’ve always been like that and we’ve been like that for the past three years. And with these new guys, that’s showing a good example for them. When they got here they were feeling like the older dudes were going to be after them and having them doing a bunch of stupid stuff, but nah that’s not how we are. When the new guys got here, they took a liking to me and (Justin) Holiday because we were here first. They always wanted to kick it with us. They were trying to go everywhere with us. And when we left, they were upset. That’s just one part of it. We have to be a family. If we’re not a family, if we’re not a unit that’s one, we can’t do anything.”
(Do you know what your role is?) “To be more productive than past years. Just be the glue guy. I see myself potentially as the X-factor. I’m not going to say I am the X-factor, but I see myself to be that guy because we got Matt (Matthew Bryan-Amaning) and Aziz (N’Diaye) going hard in the post and me and Desmond – I’m not going to say I’m just like Desmond Simmons – but we play the four and we’re not bangers like that. To me, I should do a lot of the things that Desmond (does) because Desmond goes in for offensive rebounds. He’s always active and that’s what I feel like I need to be. I feel like I need to be a more active player. That should my role. I’ll say that. To be more active.”
(Off the court, you have a lot interests. What do you do?) “I’m into music. I write. I don’t sing. I produce music. I’m into dancing. I’m not the best dancer, but I’m into it. But put me in the studio and I can give you something good. I’m into acting. I did a little acting.”
(You were in a play last year, right?) “Yeah A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A little Shakespear play.”
(How was that?) “It was good. I like doing that, but it took a lot of time. Some time I’d want to work out at night because I had free time, I really didn’t have that much tutoring. But I always had to go to rehearsals for the play and it took lot of time.”
(What role did you play?) “I played myself actually.”
(Did you have any lines?) “I had a few lines. Not a lot. It was a couple. It’s not about how many lines you have, it’s about the delivery. As long as you deliver. Just like on the court, you have to deliver.”
(No you didn’t just make that analogy.) “Yeah I did. You might not have the biggest role, but as long as you deliver and do what you got to do that’s what’s important.”
(What do you want to do after your UW career?) “I’m trying to go pro. That’s all.”
(It seems like you have so many other talents.) “Yeah, but I always see myself letting basketball plan out everything else. Basketball can be my connection to everything else that I need to do.”