ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: DeAndre Daniels #2 of the Connecticut Huskies cuts the net after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats 60-54 in the NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at AT&T Stadium on April 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
DeAndre Daniels left UConn after his junior season and headed for the NBA. Based on how he played in the NCAA Tournament, it was the right move. The only issue is that prior to that point, his college career had been marred by inconsistency. But if Daniels ever puts it together, he could be one of the most athletic players in the the League.
So as he prepares for next month's draft, he's taken something UConn coach Kevin Ollie told him to heart: "separate himself."
"He always preaches doing the small things," Daniels told the Chicago Tribune Thursday at the NBA Combine. "Just separate yourself from all of the other guys, do the small things. I definitely know the small things help me."
Listed at 6-9 in college, at the combine Daniels measures 6-7 1/2 without shoes and 6-8 1/2 with shoes. His 8-10 1/2-inch reach equates to a wingspan of 7-2. Despite a college career at power forward, Daniels considers himself a small forward.
"I'm a small forward, and I've been banging with the big guys my entire college career," he said. "I need to gain weight, but for my weight, I'm pretty strong. …I'm a basketball player. I'm a guy who can go out and do whatever they need me to do, whatever they want me to do. If that's rebound, knock down open shots in the corner, whatever the coaches want me to do."
So far, Daniels has met with the Mavericks, Pistons, Pelicans and Wizards and he's currently projected to go in the second round of the draft.
"A lot of people feel differently (about Daniels leaving UConn early), but at the end of the day, it was my decision and I felt it was right," he said.
And if he can continue to play like he did during the final month of his college career, no one will doubt the choice to turn pro.