Monarch Basketball Insider II - Darius James Summer Activities
Aug. 27, 2010
Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider
Like every ODU player, soon-to-be senior point guard Darius James has been working hard on his game this summer, shooting hoops almost every day at his old high school, Tallwood in Virginia Beach.
The life of an NCAA scholarship athlete also includes summer responsibilities like being counselors at summer kids' camps. ODU student/athletes as part of the MonarchReachout program in every sport graciously donate their time for kids at the camps.
For Darius James, though, this isn't a sacrifice.
A counseling major, James throws himself into volunteering with kids in the summer. I walked by the Athletic Administration building gym during the noisy ODU basketball camp one day. A handful of ODU players were clustered together under one basket ... and Darius was out in the middle of the floor surrounded by about 25 kids. Par for the course.
"The thing parents always say when they bring them in is `Get `em tired.' So I stay out there with them, running around," James said with a laugh.
"At lunch time, they'll all be sitting around me asking questions. And any little thing you can say to them, if they're looking up to you, to help them down the road, is really good."
James would have loved to have an opportunity to attend such a camp as a little guy. "So I do things with the kids that I would have wanted someone to do with me when I was that age. I definitely would have wanted to come here to be around college athletes," he said.
"Getting to be around them and seeing they're just like you. Most of the time, I talk to them about things other than basketball. I talk to them about school, their grades, talk to them about girls, their whole life experience."
Darius said one of the reasons the kids gravitate to him is because of his size. "I look so young to them," he said. "And I'm basically the smallest person on the team. There are a lot of kids that play basketball who aren't big. One kid I was talking to at lunch and I was telling him that. He said: `So you don't have to be a certain size to play basketball?' I told him, no, if you can play you can play.
"When his mom came to pick him up at the end of the camp, she told me how much it meant to him to hear someone tell him that."
Along with a handful of other Monarchs, James was a counselor at the ODU basketball camp. He also volunteered at former Monarch Leo Anthony's basketball camp in Virginia Beach with teammate Frank Hassell, and volunteered at the Funtastic Summer Camp run by Old Dominion University at the Lamberts Point Community Center. Again, it's something he didn't experience growing up.
"When I was in high school, my counselors didn't really do as much as they should to get you into college, until they saw I had scholarship offers. Then they started doing what they should have been doing the whole time," James said.
"When I'm done playing basketball, I'm going to go get my master's in counseling. Then I'd want to get into a school setting.
"I want to be a counselor who helps all the kids. There are a lot of kids who can go to college, and I think everyone should go to college. If they have someone behind them, pushing them, then nine times out of 10 they're going to do it, especially if you know they've been there already."