Wilks Excited to be a Bearcat

Darnell Wilks provides the Bearcats with a young, athletic player that also has some size and versatility.

It's no surprise that Darnell Wilks is a Bearcat, but it was a mild surprise that he became a member of the 2007 recruiting class.  Wilks had verbally committed to Cincinnati last year but was expected to be in the 2008 class before getting all academics in order and enrolling at Cincinnati a year early.  Bearcat Insider spoke with Wilks at Friday's media day.


The high flier spoke about how he came to Clifton a year earlier than expected.  "It took a lot of hard work in the classroom, but I was able to come to school this year.  I was originally in the class of '07 but reclassified to become a junior.  After my good work in the classroom, I was able to come out this year."


When Wilks arrived on Cincinnati's campus this summer, he would seldom be seen too far from Mike Williams.  Darnell spoke about the upperclassman.  "I've known Mike since we played in the same AAU branch.  I look up to him and try to learn from him."


The 6' 8"/195 pounder knows he needs to add weight to become a better player, and he's already working toward that goal with Bearcat strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews.  "I can already feel myself getting stronger.  In high school, I could go into the lane, and I could feel people hitting me.  Since I've been in the weight room with Dave, I've been able to take more contact."


Despite Cincinnati's 11-19 record last season, Wilks said he has always liked the Bearcats' program.  "I've always watched Cincinnati even before last season.  I watched them when Kenyon Martin was playing.  I always thought this was a place where I could play.  Even though they didn't do as well as they wanted to last year, I still saw myself playing here."


Because Darnell still has a lot of weight to add in order to become a bonafide force inside, he's very happy there are teammates with more height to allow him to possibly play some other spots on the floor.  "I feel comfortable at the two or three.  I need to develop my ball handling and do a little more with my jump shot.  Since I've been here, I've worked on my shot, and it's improved.  In high school, I played the one through the five so I need to continue developing.  Since we have Anthony McClain, I most likely will play more on the outside."


Unlike many high school scorers, Wilks has a reputation as an excellent passer.  "In high school, I'd take shots, but it really wasn't something I wanted to do.  If I see a man open, I want to get it to him."


The freshman has set some modest goals for himself.  "I just want to develop as a player and do what my team needs me to do.  I'd like to get some good minutes and help the team win."


Before deciding to become a Bearcat, Darnell wanted to be sure there was enough talent on the roster for the team to have success.  "Before I came here, I looked at who else they were recruiting.  I saw players that I liked and could see myself playing with.  Even in open gyms when the '07 guys are playing against the others, we see ourselves as one of the best classes this school has had."


When asked about his new head coach, Wilks couldn't suppress a smile.  "He's a good mentor.  He helps you himself and coaches you.  He not one of those coaches that leave it all to his assistants."

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