Just short of three years ago on a cold February afternoon a pair of eighth graders took the court for a tournament game in Kansas City. On one side there was then 6-8 C Greg Oden and across the way from him was then 6-5 BF Darrell Arthur. There may not have been a big crowd on hand, but both youngsters put on a display that made those in attendance wonder just how good they could be.
Fast forward ahead a few years and Oden has grown into a seven foot tall beast expected by most to be the number one pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. For his part, Arthur -- who now stands 6-9 -- has developed into quite a player himself. Even though he’s one of the top 10 players in the class of 2006, Arthur is still very much the same quiet kid that he was three years ago.
“I think I’m a pretty good player,” says the shy Arthur. “I can rebound and play inside but really I just need to work on my outside scoring and making sure I hit the shots I take.”
In an age where so many kids are worried about rankings, being number one or talking about how good they are, Arthur is a bit of a throwback. When he’s got it rolling, his game can be loud as he tries to smash backboards, rebounds everything in sight and continues to expand his game. Because of his raw, and for the most part untapped, potential and his ridiculous quickness and athleticism at his size he’s the kind of kid that generates a lot of attention.
Quite frankly, Arthur -- long known as Slimm Shady, or just Shady to those close to him -- isn’t interested in seeing his name in the headlines or where he is ranked, at least not outwardly. He’s a polite kid who will answer your questions and look you in the eye, but he prefers to keep it short and to the point.
“I just try to work harder than the other man out there,” says Arthur of his approach. “If I rebound and work hard and get some tip ins and play defense the other stuff comes around.”
Not surprisingly, some of college basketball’s elite programs have inquired about his services. For the moment, Arthur tries not to think about them too much but he has taken notice of a few schools.
“I was really going to wait until after this season to think about where I really wanted to go to and visit after I take my SAT,” says Arthur. “But, Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor are on me really hard with Kansas and UNC.”
Getting him to elaborate on what he likes about each school isn’t the easiest thing either. For the most part, Arthur says that he likes Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor because of their proximity to home and that he North Carolina because of their tradition and how long the Tar Heels have been recruiting him.
Arthur also likes the tradition at Kansas, and it is one that he became familiar with at an early age thanks to a trip to Lawrence with current senior Keith Langford’s mother.
“I went down there for Midnight Madness my eighth grade year and I really liked it and had a lot of fun,” said Arthur. “Keith and I used to talk a lot but I lost his number so I need to ask his mother to get it for me again.”
Other than early impressions, though, Arthur hasn’t really thought that much about whether he prefers one school or another.
Finally, in today’s era of skipping college and getting to the NBA as quickly as possible Arthur is aware that his name has been thrown out there as a possible preps to pro kid just like his longtime foe Oden’s is. Heck, when 25 or so scouts are sitting courtside -- as they were at last week’s KMOX Shootout -- it is impossible not to know.
For his part, Arthur is thinking about college and isn’t worried about what size rims he’ll be putting on his Escalade just yet.
“It’s kind of early right now to decide something like that, I’m just working on my game,” said Arthur. “If I’m ready for it, that’s something I’ll have to decide but I’m not ready now.”