December 3, 2008
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
Chris Darnell, a North Stafford High School graduate, cannot remember a time when he was not playing basketball. He started off with hoops when the family lived in the Park Ridge neighborhood of Stafford and continued when they moved to Windsor Forest, which he still calls home.
Most of his early memories include playing against his younger brother, Matt Darnell. As this hoops season hits high gear Chris Darnell is a 6-foot-9-inch-tall senior forward at Division I William and Mary in Williamsburg while Matt Darnell is a senior standout at North Stafford High School, where he plays for his father Michael Darnell, the head coach.
“He used to beat me up all the time when we played in the driveway,” Matt Darnell said. “We used to play all of the time.”
Matt Darnell is now 6 feet, 6 inches tall, and has attracted attention from several colleges. He made unofficial visits to Radford, Navy and Mount St. Mary’s in the spring but said he is now focusing on the season and plans to decide on a college in 2009. He saw his brother play earlier this season for the Tribe at Penn State and planned to see William and Mary play in a tournament at Liberty University in Lynchburg on Nov. 28.
“I am looking for a good school20academically,” he said.
Chris Darnell averaged 22.5 minutes, 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season as a junior as William and Mary advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title game for the first time in school history.
He made 13 starts and had six rebounds in a start against No. 5 Georgetown on Nov. 10, 2007. He led the Tribe in scoring with 12 points in a win against Northwestern and had six rebounds off the bench in a game against George Mason.
In the CAA tourney he had a team-high six rebounds in a quarterfinal win against Old Dominion. Darnell led the Tribe in scoring twice and in rebounds in four games during the 2007-2008 season.
The Tribe lost to George Mason in the title game in Richmond as the Patriots earned the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I have to say it was a step in the right direction,” Chris Darnell said. “It is not our goal to make the championship game. We want to win the championship game. Nobody cares about second place. It was a good step but it was not our goal.”
Chris Darnell was a second-team all-state player in high school as a senior, according to the Associated Press, and he set a school record at North Stafford with 1,464 points. He averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds as a senior.
As a freshman at William and Mary he averaged 11.3 minutes, 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.20He averaged 10.4 minutes, 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore. He started the first five games this season and was averaging 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30 minutes per game.
On track to graduate in the spring, he hopes to play pro basketball overseas after his college career is complete. He has seen the rise of the CAA in basketball during his career, including a Final Four appearance by Mason in 2006.
“It has been great to be a part of,” Chris Darnell said of the CAA. “Even though it is a mid-major our conference can play with any team in the country. It is a good feeling knowing I am playing on a high level.”
“I am definitely expected to be one of our best rebounders and defenders,” the elder Darnell said. “There will be games where I do score more points.”
Who does he think are the teams to beat this year in the CAA?
“VCU is always tough; ODU is tough and some of the in-state schools like them and George Mason are good,” said Chris Darnell, who also played soccer when he was younger.
Matt Darnell played soccer and football when he was younger but focused solely on hoops when he entered North Stafford as a freshman. He has played four years on varsity for his father.
“It can be kind of hard at times. There is a lot of pressure on me, but I like it,” he said.
Not es: The Tribe is slated to host CAA favorite VCU, the regular-season champion last season, on Dec. 6. William and Mary’s only scheduled game against Mason this season is Jan. 14 in Williamsburg.
William and Mary lost a triple overtime game at home Nov. 22 to Navy. “It was one of the most exciting games I have been involved in,” Chris Darnell said. “Unfortunately we came out on the wrong side and that (high-scoring) is not really our style of play.”