Fresh off of two straight state championships, the incredibly athletic six-foot-nine inch forward would have liked to have spent his time in San Diego chatting up pals and smiling for the cameras. He had time for some smiles and chatting, but inside the soft spoken and often shy Arthur -- better known as Slim Shady -- was struggling. He was still another month or so away from making his college choice and the decision making process and the attention it brought was really wearing on him.
“It was a headache every day. Everybody had different opinions and different advice,” said Darrell Arthur who chose the Jayhawks over Arizona, Baylor, LSU and Texas. “I was getting real tired of it and I knew I had to make a decision or mentally I was going to be a wreck. I was going to go crazy or something. I picked Kansas because I knew we are going to have a good team this year and hopefully we can win a national championship.”
With his decision out of the way and finally settled into Lawrence, Arthur is doing his best to make the transition to college basketball. So far it’s been a bit of an up and down affair for the Texan, particularly because of the amount of time playing big time college basketball and staying up on his studies demands.
“The toughest part is the time management in between classes,” says Arthur. “We have to do a lot of studying and time with tutors and stuff like that. It kind of wears you down with practice, weights and pickup, that’s been tough for me to get it managed so I can get some rest in between.”
“I think one thing that is perceived when we recruit players is that they are going to step in and have an unbelievable impact, and that is not always the case. These guys, primarily Sherron and Shady have a chance to make an immediate impact, and I don't think Brady is far away,” said Self of Arthur and his classmates. “We haven't even practiced yet, so I don't know how they will react in certain situations. If you would have asked these guys if college was harder than what they thought it would be when they were in high school, every one of them would have definitely said yes."
Luckily for Arthur, he’s become good friends with his classmates and knows that he can turn to them for support.
“I socialize well with my classmates,” said Arthur. “Being classmates with Sherron and Brady, we get along really well and we’re all going through this the same and together.”
After being the man on the high school level, Arthur finds himself in a new situation in terms of playing time. He’s arguably the most athletic and skilled of a group including C.J. Giles, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun that will be fighting for a starting spot alongside sophomore Julian Wright in the Kansas frontcourt. But, he’s also a freshman and has yet to play a college minute.
In reality, it’s not something he’s worrying about because he’s confident the best player will get the job.
“We haven’t even really talked about it,” said Arthur. “But, he (Self) said that whoever works the hardest will get the starting position.”
Taking things a step further, Arthur is humble enough to admit that he’s probably not even ready to take on the pressure of a starting role. At least, he’s not quit ready for that out of the gate in his freshman season.
“I’m trying to get mentally tough and ready for that. I’m physically tough, but my mental part isn’t where it needs to be right now,” says Arthur. “I’m trying to learn the plays and I’m just watching Julian and the other big dudes ahead of me so I can see what to do.”
He isn’t just watching though, he’s asking plenty of questions in an effort to get where he needs to be.
“Darnell and Julian, I ask them a lot of questions,” said Arthur. “I ask them what to do on the court and also off the court they’ve given me a lot of help too.”
As practice starts and the date of his first collegiate game inches closer and closer, Arthur can’t help but become a little nervous. He’s played against plenty of big time players during his high school career and is no stranger to big games because of his success in the state playoffs, but he is fully aware that everything is ratcheted up in college, especially in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I’m trying to see what this is going to be like,” says Arthur of the Allen crowds. “I’ve got butterflies right now. Hopefully when I get on the court they’ll shake off. I’ve played in front of some big crowds before but nothing like this.”
Looking back at his recruitment and then considering where he is now, the important thing is that Arthur knows he ended up where he belonged. Even if he would have followed his heart a little sooner if he had to do it all over again.
“I think I should have handled it differently, I should have listened to my mom and my heart rather than listening to everybody else that came in,” says Arthur of the path that finally led him to Kansas. “But, I ended up listening to my heart and I think I ended up at the right school.”