The small forward was widely regarded as one of the top junior college players in the country and was even featured in SLAM magazine over the summer. After finishing second in the NJCAA in scoring as a freshman, Daniels averaged more than 25 points last season as a JUCO sophomore.
But the transition to major college basketball hasn't been as easy as some might have thought for the talented Daniels. He's had to learn the nuances of Coach Pitino's system, pick up the details of Louisville's extensive scouting reports, and basically learn to play defense from scratch.
"He would be a great freshman," Pitino said. "Because he's never had any coaching at the defensive end. It's all so new to him but he's so willing to work at it. He wants to get better and improve. And he's such a good shooter if he could improve he'd really help this basketball team."
"Unfortunately he's going to be a senior, rather than a sophomore," Pitino continued. "But you have a choice in certain games because if you really need offense and it's an up and down game you go with Nate. If you really need defense then you go with Junior. So you can pick your player whether you need offense or defense."
Daniels started the season slow, taking limited minutes where he could get them through the first four or five games. He sprinkled in some performances that flashed his ability and potential, like against Western Kentucky where he scored 11 points in just 10 minutes of action. He also hit two big three pointers in the upset of top ranked Florida.
But his coming out party was a 17 point performance against Austin Peay just before Christmas in just 13 minutes. But he's still inconsistent. He followed the Austin Peay performance with 0 against Kentucky, then replaced an injured Francisco Garcia in the second half against Toledo and provided the Cardinals a lift off the bench scoring a season-high 18 points. But was non-existent against Murray State last Saturday.
"I'm hoping Nate will have rapid growth as the season goes along because he's such a good shooter," Pitino explained. "And now he's getting a little tougher physically. Our guys are making him tougher and he's improving. So if he can ever get it defensively and just run and beat his man to the spot and play the angles correctly, he could be a good defensive player."
"He gets a lot of rebounds," Pitino continued. "When he gets his minutes he can put some numbers on the board. But scouting is totally foreign to him. Everything is so new to him because he played against very little competition. I'm hoping by the end of the year he gets it all. It would certainly help our team."
Once he becomes more consistent on the defensive end, Daniels figures to play an important role before C-USA play concludes.