We all remember him for setting the VCU single season three-point record, but this past weekend, former Ram Troy Daniels made a name for himself across the country.
The humble Roanoke, Va. native, who inked his first NBA contract with the Houston Rockets in February, came off the bench and knocked down a game-winning and potentially season-saving three pointer in game three of the western conference first-round playoffs.
An unlikely hero, Daniels scored nine points in place of the disqualified Chandler Parsons last Friday, helping Houston avoid a 3-0 series deficit. His last shot was the biggest, coming with less than 10 seconds in overtime of a tied game, but we shouldn’t be surprised that Daniels is making huge shots on the national stage.
For most, the storyline here is that some no-name D-Leaguer just saved the season for stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. However, for those of us who have watched Troy’s ascendance, Daniels is exemplifying the power of perseverance.
He’s not the most gifted athlete or talented player to come through Richmond. In fact, the argument could be made Daniels wasn’t even the best player on his team during his four years at VCU. Nevertheless, he headlined ESPN this past weekend because Daniels isn’t afraid to take the big shot. He mastered the art of the three-pointer, and now he’s making a comfortable living shooting a basketball.
I don’t want to say he’s one-dimensional, but that’s just what he is. In a season in which Daniels set the D-League record for threes in a single season (173 through February 20), the sharpshooter attempted 599 of his 766 shots behind the arc.
He’s living proof that it is possible to make a career in the NBA through hard work. After going undrafted last June, Daniels signed with the Charlotte Bobcats before being waived 20 days later. He’s been up and down from the D-League at least four different times since, but still, Daniels made a shot Friday every rec-league kid dreams of hitting.
With one shot, Daniels earned every penny of the two-year, $975,000 contract he signed with Houston in February. He showed general managers across the league he’s a legitimate NBA talent and possibly solidified a long-term career playing with the world’s premiere players.
I don’t think we’ll see Daniels dropping 25 points a game any time soon, but every team needs a perimeter player capable of hitting the three at a rate of 40 percent or better.
VCU head coach Shaka Smart said Daniels was the best shooter he had ever coached, and now the rest of the nation is seeing why.
The clutch element can’t be taught, but it’s something Houston’s new prize possesses. And if they’re smart, they’ll hold onto Daniels beyond 2016 — that man has ice water flowing through his veins.