Even though he requested a release from his scholarship, Dantiel Daniels was never really sure he wanted to leave.
“It was a lot of pressure. I’ve never been through that much pressure in my life,” Daniels said. “I just thought if I stayed here, we could build something, and I wanted to give coach (Barry) Hinson a chance.”
Phone calls flooded Daniels’ phone, and he said he ignored it for a couple of days to clear his mind. After he met with his mother several times, including this past weekend, Daniels said he will be back at SIU next season.
“I really feel like I’m established here. It’s not that far from my house. I love the fan support we get, and my teammates; I love those guys,” Daniels said.
Daniels said his future with the Salukis was up in the air when Hinson was hired March 28 to replace former coach Chris Lowery.
When Hinson let go all three of Lowery’s assistant coaches from last season — Brad Korn, Anthony Stewart and Ron Smith — Daniels said he made the decision to leave April 11.
“I was really close with those guys, especially Brad Korn,” Daniels said. “(Korn) actually recruited me since I was a freshman in high school. For AAU, he was always on the circuit at all my games, sending me letters, always calling me, so I had a real close relationship with him.”
Hinson said he will not comment publically until he announces all three of his assitant coaches, but he said April 4 he wasn’t going to keep an assistant coach just to keep a player.
“I wanted to leave for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to leave because I didn’t think we were going to win instead of giving coach Hinson and my teammates a chance,” Daniels said. “I tried to justify me leaving as I had a good year, but we were 8-23 and coach Lowery and the whole staff was fired, so it was a good reason to get out.”
Daniels’ release was denied because his 2.4 GPA would have been too low for men’s basketball to escape a hit to their Academic Progress Rate, but he said he would have gone to a junior college regardless of how that situation panned out.
He said he was ready to go to Northwest Florida State in Niceville, Fla., the same junior college that Wichita State junior forward Carl Hall went to before he transferred to the Shockers. Daniels said he hadn’t thought about his future beyond that.
Another turning point for Daniels was when CBS’ Jeff Goodman contacted him for Goodman’s April 25 article about the APR and Treg Setty, who also asked for a release.
“I didn’t want to comment or get involved with that because in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to stay here,” Daniels said.
Setty asked for a release from his scholarship April 16 but was denied by the Athletic Department until the end of the semester because his GPA also falls below 2.6.
Setty met the NCAA appeals committee April 26 and said it went well, but he isn’t sure when he’ll hear back from them.
Athletic Director Mario Moccia said he had no comment.
Daniels said Setty, who is also his roommate, won’t change his mind now just because Daniels is back with the Salukis.
But now that Daniels is back, he said he’s not worried about what role he plays in Hinson’s offense, whether it be center or power forward. He also said he wasn’t concerned about the program’s future academic standing.
“I’m just going to continue to try to keep my grades up, get them higher. Try to get my GPA to hopefully higher than a 2.6,” Daniels said. “We’ll have a very good team next year. Hopefully we’ll win more
than eight games.”