At The Rock High School in Gainesville, Days arrived at the season’s doorstep as one of the more unheralded recruits.
Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Providence were among the early suitors for the 6-foot-8, 218-pound forward. Despite playing in a conference laced with highly-touted Division-I guards and a barrage of 7-footers, Days wasn’t equated with the same star power as other high-major prospects.
That would soon change.
Days gave an efficient account of himself as he scored 35 points tore down 11 boards against Gary Trent-led Prolific Prep (Ca.). While this monstrous performance opened many eyes, Days’ upsurge continued during a thorough late-season tear.
Days accounted for a considerable amount of The Rock’s offensive output. He starred alongside high-scoring guard and Penn State-commit Jamari Wheeler. The tandem were a vaunted 1-2 punch, arguably the best inside-outside combo in the state.
The void left by Wheeler, who graduated this spring, will have to be filled by committee. Days will once again assume go-to-guy responsibilities, with more emphasis on his rebounding and creating.
Against Hillcrest Prep (Az.), one of the country’s top programs on the Grind Session, Days turned in a 35-point, 10-rebound performance. This performance catapulted Days to the upper-echelon of the country’s quickly-rising recruits. More and more high-profile programs tuned into the Class of 2018 man-child.
He was named a top-30 performer at Pangos All-American camp. Other local Florida area prospects such as Louisville-commit Anfernee Simons and Oldsmar Christian’s do-it-all guard Eljiah Weaver also competed.
Flashing a consistent 3-point shot and post-up ability, he morphed into a known matchup headache this season.
Providence has special resonance with Days, because they were among the first programs to express interest and plunk down a scholarship offer.
“I spoke with Ed Cooley and they seem like a program that has produced a lot of good forwards and guys who can play multiple positions,” said Days.
“Right now I’m just waiting on after the summer to cut down my list and set up visits and everything that comes with that. I don’t have any visits set up yet. I’m working on my game and working on knifing to the basket more. That’s the focus.
Becoming more and more active defensively and crashing the boards with a sense of relentlessness was pivotal in transitioning from a first team all-league player to a league MVP and all-state performer.
Days, as explosive a finisher as you’ll find at this level, was held to a lofty standard by head coach Justin Hardin.
If he missed an assignment defensively, if he was caught staring on defense, he would hear about it. It even meant a quick chain and an earful to the bench.
“Look, coach knows I want him to be tough on me,” Days explained. “He knows I don’t want no free passes and I want to be held accountable just like everyone else. It’s really helped me with my work ethic and constantly going hard, constantly going 100 percent out there.’
In Days, Hardin sees a multi-layered scorer who can bully his way to the rim with relative ease.
“His shot has continued to progress and what Darius needs to do is continue to understand he can score at all three levels,” said The Rock head coach Justin Hardin, following a 100-71 thrashing of Mater to win the A-ROD tournament (with the famed Yankee slugger in attendance) in Miami in December.
“He can post up at times, he can knock down the mid-range shots, which is probably his best shot. His 3-point shooting has improved tremendously as he’s now leading our team in 3-pointers made and percentage.”