Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Whether it’s hitting game-winning three’s in the NBA or setting records from beyond the arc, former Rams star and current Phoenix Suns guard Troy Daniels has a knack for knocking down clutch shots.
Daniels’ four-year career wearing Black and Gold spanned from 2009-2013, including the 2011 Final Four run in Houston.
“[The Final Four] was pretty cool,” Daniels said. “Obviously I wish I could have been a part of it — I broke my foot that year so it was a little tough for me to get into the rotation. Overall, it was one of the best experiences in my life — something I’ll tell my kids.”
The Roanoke native has never been afraid to take a shot, a lesson taught by former Men’s Basketball coach and current Texas coach Shaka Smart.
“He instilled a lot of core values of life and also on the court, getting that killer mindset — that killer attitude to go out there and just kill,” Daniels said. “That’s what I do when I try and get into the game. A lot of guys say, ‘Oh, you’re not scared to shoot, you’re never scared to take the last shot.’”
This mindset paid off for Daniels later in his VCU career as he hit 124 3-pointers in his senior season — a school record for a single season. He finished his collegiate career with 251 three’s, the third all-time in program history.
Former Rams guard and current Men’s Basketball Director of Player Development Darius Theus played alongside Daniels his entire four-year career at the Siegel Center.
“The best shooter I ever played with, probably the best shooter in VCU history,” Theus said of Daniels. “I think everybody has a special talent when they play basketball and that’s just one thing that he’s great at. I’ve never seen anyone shoot the ball as well as he does with as much confidence he does.”
Daniels’ “killer mindset” carried over to the NBA. During his rookie season, he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, as the Houston Rockets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I think it’s why he is surviving so long in the NBA,” Theus said, “because his mindset is kill or be killed, which is how it should be.”
Daniels went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and signed with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a Rockets affiliate. After being named to the 2014 D-League All-Star game, he was promoted to the Rockets. Daniels has played for five NBA teams since his debut with Houston.
Daniels’ favorite part of playing in the NBA is “being able to compete everyday.”
“A lot of people look at it as a job for us, but I’m doing something that I love to do every single day,” Daniels said. “It doesn’t get any better than that, it’s not a 9-5 for me.”
Daniels led the Suns in scoring back-to-back nights this season. He recorded a team-high 15 points in the Suns’ Dec. 6 loss to the Trail Blazers. Daniels also logged a team-high 18 points Dec. 7 as the Suns loss to the Miami Heat.
This season, Daniels has played in 20 games, averaging 6.2 points per game.