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Dylan Darling commits to WSU men’s basketball

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The prolific scorer out of Spokane was a late bloomer.

PULLMAN, WA - JANUARY 30: Washington State Men’s Basketball versus the Colorado Buffaloes at Beasley Coliseum - Butch T Cougar Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Dylan Darling has officially committed to Washington State, and the hometown kid out of Spokane is looking to make a big impact in the Crimson and Grey.

The son of former WSU football linebacker James Darling, it felt almost certain that the Cougs would land Dylan as soon as they offered him — which was only two and a half weeks ago.

“Both my parents went there,” Darling said. “I have three cousins there now. I used to grow up going to football games. I knew if I liked (the basketball fit), that’s where I’d be.”

The 6-foot-2 guard chose WSU over Idaho State and Seattle Pacific, but he was getting more high major interest lately.

“I’d already been hearing from some schools,” Darling said, “but Saint Mary’s, Stanford, Utah, Minnesota and Long Beach State (started calling) — it was kind of crazy.”

Darling has the senior season stat profile to suggest he’s at least a mid-major talent with the potential to live up to this high-major billing. He had one of the most incredible senior seasons the state of Washington has ever seen, averaging 33.2 points a game, 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 4.4 steals while shooting 55% from the field and 80% from the line at 4A Central Valley. He broke Adam Morrison’s record for points in a season and points in a single game, and he had multiple 50-point games and a couple triple-doubles as well.

Domination hardly begins to describe what Darling did to his league. His offensive skill was constantly on full display and few high-major recruits can tout having a high school season like Darling had.

Darling is a highly skilled guard, and his abilities are varied. The place to start with Darling is the jumper, as he is wet as the ocean from outside. His release does have a bit of a load, but he is comfortable hitting it in a variety of scenarios, especially pull-ups and step-backs. College teams are generally good at smoothing out a players’ mechanics and there is no reason to expect Darling to be anything but a good shooter.

The main hope for WSU is that Darling can become a true weapon as a jump shooter, pulling up like Mike Flowers. His jumper even has more upside than Flowers, as crazy as that sounds, as Darling’s mechanics are a bit more conducive to movement shooting without the ball. The Cougs haven’t had a true movement shooting weapon since Klay Thompson and it can be a real geometry changer on offense.

Darling also flashes some ability to play as a true point, though it is yet to be seen exactly how good he is at that. He has not played with roll-men like Efe Abogidi or Mouhamed Gueye before. He has a good feel for the game, consistently reading and manipulating the defense, and that is the type of skill that often scales up as players play with better and better competition. Darling will need to be a high-level passer to truly live up to his potential at the D1 level and fulfill what the Cougs need from him. If he can get some into the lane and make plays to bigs or shooters, it would be a huge boost to WSU’s offense.

The question with someone like Darling was always going to be the athleticism. Players like Darling, who are clearly good and productive players, are often underrecruited because of that lack of athleticism. Darling is well-built, filling out his 6’2 frame in a way that is almost expected from the son of a former NFL linebacker. Darling uses this strength well and it helps cover for some his lack of straight-line speed.

It can be hard to evaluate his burst because he was always going to be “burstier” than the guys he was playing against, but I think there is upside there. He is not super explosive, but he is shifty and gets in and out of his moves with ease. There is definitely a chance he can become and above-average scorer in the Pac-12 if he begins complementing his jumper with some paint touches and rim attempts.

Overall, Darling’s fit into WSU’s roster is an important one. The current look of the Cougs’ guard room is interesting, consisting of a few different types of players.

Myles Rice is someone I remain high on, and he is likely the best combination of rim pressure and passing in the group. Tyrell Roberts remains as the most experienced of the group and his shooting and defense will likely keep him the starting lineup despite his iffy passing. Darling is the third member on the roster who would be considered a point guard with his size and that could mean that Kyle Smith will expect early contributions should they fail to add to the guard room in the transfer portal. It is hard to say exactly what to expect from Darling for his freshman season, but he might be expected to play real minutes depending on how the rest of the offseason goes.

This is likely not the end of WSU’s offseason talent acquisition, although Darling does technically fill the final scholarship spot on the roster (since we believe Solomon Ominu is now going to be a part of the 2023 class, presuming he doesn’t decommit). There are still some potential transfers or potential recruits, some of whom were discussed in my piece evaluating the 2022 recruiting class. It is almost a certainty that WSU will have some unanticipated holes to fill as well, as some current players could opt to go pro or transfer elsewhere, opening up more spots on the roster to try and turn WSU into a contender.

As it stands, adding Darling is a good start to the offseason and he provides some much-needed guard depth to a team lacking in future options at that position. Welcome to Pullman Dylan Darling, we’re happy to have you!

Here’s a look at the current scholarship situation: