By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– This time last year Shaton Daniels was just starting his final season wearing the Green and White of McKay, helping the Scots to a 12-13 season and hosting a Play-In playoff game against Madison back in February while recieving second-team All Greater Valley Conference honors for his senior year.
For a kid who only spent his last two-years in Salem after moving clear across the country from New Jersey, the two-years wearing the McKay uniform was something.
“For the two years I played I learned a lot and that my speed is a key factor to my game,” said Daniels of his two-years playing in Northeast Salem. ” Also that always go into a game willing to fight no matter who your playing always try to out hustle your opponent.”
Daniels showcased that Monday night at Chemeketa, now playing in a similar McKay-like color scheme of the Storm, being aggressive against guys like six-foot-five Jeff Sutherlin from the junior varsity squad of Willamette University at Chemeketa Community College.
It’s no secret that the college game, even at the Junior College level is tough and it’s even tougher when your a walk-on like Daniels was.
“Walking on is kind of hard, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Daniels on coming in looking for a spot on the Storm roster. “But when I found out, it was similar to McKay, I was able to do it.”
The system that David Abderhalden runs is very similar to that of what Dean Sanderson runs at McKay of pushing tempo and bringing pressure, and there were moments during Daniels 18 minutes on the court Monday when they were pushing tempo, he looked as if the word ‘Scots’ still read across his chest with how comfortable he was with the system he’s in now.
But, when it came down to who’s going to be on the roster, it came down to three-guys including Daniels on what will happen for the 2017-2018 season. Will he make the team, red-shirt or what?
The verdict was one of the three red-shirted while Daniels and another player get to play.
“It felt good, I passed it. I still have to work for my minutes and stuff,” said Daniels on making the team.
Over his first three games, Daniels has seen about 17 to 18 minutes on the court while averaging 5.3 points a game, 2.6 rebounds and 1 assist a game as he tries to showcase his talents and work his way up the ranks for playing time and being successful with the drive to work his tail off shows.
“Focus, got to get bigger,” said Daniels on how he can improve already early in his collegiate career. “College kids are a lot bigger than me, but I just use my athletic ability to adjust with them. Other than that, just got to focus.”
His athletic ability showed during a hustle play at mid-court Monday during the second half of the game with the Bearcats. He dives for a loose ball and gets tangled up funny with a Willamette University JV player and was grimacing in pain as he got up; but he kept playing in the game for a few more minutes before being subbed out.
Daniels has gone up against collegiate talent before in basketball with guys like West Salem’s Kyle Greenly, South Salem’s Jaden Nielsen-Skinner, etc., but that’s nothing like guys who have been grinding it out the last year or two at this level and are perhaps two-years older than himself.
“College is way more aggressive, faster, kids are bigger and it’s a lot tougher,” said Daniels on stepping up to this level. “In High School I was one of the fastest kids, in college I have kids the same speed as me. So I have to use my athletic ability to do what I can do.”
And as he finished Monday’s game with two points, two rebounds and two assists in the 98-73 win, Daniels knows that there’s still work to do as he is just beginning to start on his journey of playing at the next level.
A journey that started as the process as a walk-on that has led him to this point playing with guys like South Salem-grads Jack Frazier and Jamel Merriweather. Playing alongside a talented guard in freshman Mason Elliot that’s dropped over 20 points a game in three games this season. Not a lot of guys get to say they’ve got to this point in their playing careers.
“It’s still fun because I’m still kind of young, I get to enjoy it. Do stuff that I enjoy doing, I like doing playing basketball,” starts Daniels. “I feel kind of special actually, I just got to take advantage of it.”
The next game for the Storm is Wednesday night against Multnomah University’s JV Squad, tip off is at 7pm.
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