Once perhaps the prize commitment in the Class of 2011 for Rick Barnes and the Texas Longhorns, Daniels – a five-star small forward from Woodland Hills, Calif. – opted to open things back up in mid-August, putting an end to weeks of speculation.
A decommitment is, in and of itself, hardly unusual – especially for an elite talent such as Daniels, who has more options than most. What made his situation unique, however, is what followed shortly thereafter.
Daniels was a full NCAA qualifier for the Class of 2010, though he planned to find a prep school to call home for a year and remain a member of the Class of 2011.
That plan began to change shortly after his decommitment from the Longhorns, however, as programs began clamoring for him to join them immediately. Included among his suitors were Kentucky, Texas, USC, UCLA, Washington, UNLV, St. John's, Kentucky, Georgetown, Memphis and Gonzaga.
Ultimately, Daniels decided to remain a member of the Class of 2011 and travel across the country, to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where for the past two months IMG basketball program director Andy Borman says his recent addition has been "phenomenal."
"The whole reason DeAndre came to us is because he felt like he was ready for college but he wanted to be an immediate impact player," said Borman, a former Duke University guard and member of the Blue Devils' 2001 national championship squad. "So what we've done since he came in late August is we've just shut it down and only let him focus on training. That's his goal."
Which isn't to say interest in Daniels has dropped off on the part of college coaches. Quite the opposite, in fact, as inquiries continue to flood in from many of the top programs in the country. It's just that Daniels has chosen to slow things down dramatically, holding off on signing until the spring and focusing exclusively on basketball.
The early returns have been impressive, Borman said, as Daniel now measures 6-foot-9 and has packed on 10 pounds of muscle to his frame through a dedicated nutrition plan and weight training.
"Most times when you get someone that is as talented as DeAndre, they take things for granted," Borman explained. "And he lives every day like it's his last and plays every practice like it's his last."
"He's wide open," he added, of Daniels' recruitment. "To be honest with you, we haven't even really talked with DeAndre about his recruiting. If anything when we've talked with him about it, it's just to let him know that a school is coming in, that people are calling and wishing him luck."
No preliminary list exists for the top-flight talent as of yet, and Borman said it may be easier to list the schools that haven't called about him or visited IMG. Some of those who have shown early interest include Kansas, Texas, Memphis, Georgetown, Washington, Oregon, West Virginia and North Carolina State.