The basketball star opted to attend IMG Academy.
There were two paths that hoops observers thought DeAndre Daniels might take in 2010-11.
He chose neither.
Some thought Daniels would return to Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.), though the fifth-year senior would have had to successfully petition the California Interscholastic Federation to be eligible. Others — including Daniels himself at one point — thought he would reclassify to the Class of 2010 so he could attend Texas, where he had committed in the summer of 2009.
In the end, Daniels, who is rated the nation’s No. 35 player in the Class of 2011 in the ESPNU 100, instead opted to attend IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). There, the superathletic small forward is playing for IMG’s post-grad team, which plays junior colleges and prep schools with fifth-year seniors.
“The competition is great,” he says. “I get to play grown men every night.”
Daniels says he came to IMG to prepare his body for college and to become a better leader. His focus has been adding weight to his 6-foot-8, 195-pound frame.
“His goal … is not just to get to college,” says the Director of the IMG Academy basketball program. “His goal is to get to college and be that impact player that he wants to be.”
Last year, Daniels averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, leading Taft (26-6) to a berth in the CIF Southern Region semifinals. Toreadors coach Derrick Taylor told ESPN RISE last April he expected Daniels to petition for an additional year of eligibility, but Daniels says that was never the plan.
He and his father decided on IMG over the summer, and he arrived at the IMG facilities in late August after participating in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 in Venice Beach, Calif. IMG boasts some of best training facilities in the world, which was part of the appeal for Daniels.
“When I first came out here I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy, this is like a playground for athletes,’” Daniels says.
And while he says he’s happy with his decision, naturally he misses home — especially his family and former teammates.
“It was kind of tough just to leave my friends that I have,” he says.