It ended up being two years later than initially expected, but Darryl Wanton finally found himself on Mercer’s campus. And when he did, Wanton wasted no time joining the newly-formed club basketball team formed by junior Andre Daniels.
“I didn’t really know anything about club basketball. I didn’t know it was a thing. But I would be working out in the gym, and I would go downstairs and play with some guys,” Wanton said. “People were just telling me about it, saying, ‘Hey, the club basketball team is having tryouts. You should show up.’ I came and showed up, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
It’s not the first basketball team Wanton has played on in college. The junior transferred to Mercer this year after spending two years at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where he played college basketball.
Albany College is located in Albany, New York, and plays in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Initially, Wanton said he planned to attend Mercer after graduating high school, but once he received the opportunity to play at Albany College, he changed his plans.
“It was kind of just a last-minute decision,” Wanton said. “I had to pretty much sell myself to college coaches. [High school] coaches didn’t really help us out much with our recruitment, so I used to send email after email asking college coaches to come look at me play, watch my game tape.”
The coach at Albany College emailed Wanton back, and once Wanton liked the academic program, he decided to attend the school instead of Mercer. But after two years, Wanton said Mercer was closer to home — he grew up in Fayetteville, Georgia — and it would prepare him for pharmacy school.
Once he found out about the club team, it gave him the opportunity to still play competitive basketball while at Mercer. Daniels, the club’s president, started the club in the fall.
“We had the club my freshman year, and a lot of the guys on the team didn’t want to play this year because of the way it was run my freshman year,” Daniels said. “But I knew that a lot of guys wanted to play basketball and wanted to do something other than intramurals.”
The team has played in three tournaments at Valdosta State, Georgia Tech and Middle Tennessee State. The first tournament, which was at Valdosta State, was in the fall semester. Wanton said it took time for the team’s chemistry to come together.
“We hadn’t really gelled together as good as we could have, but by the end of the tournament, we came together,” Wanton said. “We put some very great efforts [together].”
Daniels said one of the reasons he started the team was to give people the opportunity to travel and play other opponents. Kutia Muhammad, a senior on the team, said that — along with the team camaraderie — was one of the big perks.
“Being on the club team is a great way to get experience building chemistry with other young men, while also getting to see nice campuses around the South,” Muhammad said.