Assistant Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times’ Sports Twitter
Troy Daniels is one of the two best shooters that Shaka Smart has ever coached.
The other is Terrence Oglesby, whom Smart knew when he was an assistant at Clemson. Oglesby averaged 13.2 points per game in two years with the Tigers before leaving the school to play pro ball in Europe.
But back to Daniels. Smart put him in a category above players like Brandon Rozzell, Joey Rodriguez, Ed Nixon and even Bradford Burgess. For someone that chooses their words as carefully as Smart, that’s a tremendous honor. But per usual, Smart’s praise came with a dose of reason as well.
“The reality is I think (Daniels) is better than he thinks he is,” said Smart. “Troy can play any role he wants to play if he sets his mind to it. He’s a really good scorer in practice, but it’s got to carry over in the games.”
As most coaches will tell you, being a great scorer has less to do with talent and more to do with having a nasty attitude. So for Daniels to become a great scorer as opposed to just a great shooter, he needs to develop a killer instinct.
“Terrence Oglesby thought he was the best player in the country and that helped him,” said Smart. “Troy needs more of that. He’s got great ability, but I think he’s got to take a big step.”
This is a season where Daniels will be expected by Smart, his teammates and the fans to take that next step, despite not having played much in his first two seasons. Daniels played in 26 games as a freshman, but his appearances averaged just six minutes. He showed flashes of greatness last season, but his campaign was shortened because of a broken foot which he suffered in late January against UNC Wilmington. The injury occurred two minutes into the game, which was his first career start, and he missed the team’s next 11 games.
Although Daniels would return late in the season, he never got back to his usual form and played just three minutes in VCU’s final six games. But again, Smart believes Daniels has more ability than former Ram sharp-shooters Rozzell and Rodriguez. However he has yet to develop the cockiness that they possessed.
“You can’t give a guy what Brandon (Rozzell) had or what Joey (Rodriguez) had,” said Smart. “And to be honest, that’s the biggest thing we lost from last year, not points or assists or rebounds: swagger. Those guys thought they could beat the Lakers.”
As much as Daniels admires Rozzell and Rodriguez, and what they brought to the table, he wants doesn’t want to model his game after theirs. He wants to stay true to himself and what got him to this level.
“I just want to start my own legacy,” said Daniels. “I just don’t want to really follow behind (Rozzell’s) footsteps. I want to learn from him of course. But I want to start my own legacy.”
Photos by Kyle Laferriere