Brittany Darling drives past two Lakeland players. The 6-foot-5-inch Genoa graduate set Owens records for blocked shots in a season and per-game rebounds.
It will be difficult for anyone to duplicate the two years Brittany Darling spent on the Owens Community College basketball team.
The Genoa graduate drew a web of defenders wherever she went, but still put up gaudy numbers for the Express. Darling had 569 rebounds in her career, averaging 9.64 a game, and set school records with 127 blocked shots this season and two games where she collected a record 21 rebounds.
Now she is considering the next stop in her college career and is looking at a long list of possibilities.
A center, she has completed her playing time at Owens but has two years of eligibility left.
"We've had close to 30 schools looking at her," Owens coach Michael Llanas said about the 6-foot-5-inch Darling. "There's not many kids like her around the country. She did some great things while she was here, and I think she got a lot of people's attention."
Darling averaged about 11 points a game, scoring 646 in her two years at Owens. She shot 45.6 percent from the field and had 50 assists and 26 steals. In the recent NJCCA regional tournament, Darling had 58 points, 58 rebounds, and 12 blocked shots in three games as the Express came up one win short of advancing to the national tournament.
"We had a great season," Darling said after the Express bowed out with a 27-6 record, "but it hurts to get that close and then come up short. I've had a great experience playing here, but now I guess it's time to think about moving on."
Llanas said Darling has narrowed her list of possible schools and will start visiting some of them this week. She plans to take a firsthand look at Troy University in Alabama, Hofstra University in New York, Tennessee Tech, and Division II Kennesaw State near Atlanta.
In addition, she has been contacted by American, Towson, Eastern Illinois, Detroit, Radford, Ohio University, Central Connecticut State, Stony Brook, and Southern Illinois.
"The college coaches that have come in have been impressed with how mobile she is, and they like the fact that she's an athlete and she can run the floor," Llanas said. "Most of the teams we've talked to already have high-scoring guards, and they need someone inside who can rebound and block shots. And with Brittany, they've been most impressed with the way she can make the outlet pass."
Darling was an All-Ohio player at Genoa who averaged 16.3 points and 10.8 rebounds a game over her high school career and finished with 1,452 career points, the second-highest total in school history. She holds a number of school records at Genoa.
"She's a proven player, and wherever she ends up next, they're going to get somebody who can anchor the middle, defend, rebound, block shots, and score," Llanas said. "There are a lot of midmajors out there that don't have that kind of player right now."
Darling, who helped the Express achieve the No. 6 national ranking this season, said she plans to take her time and study her options before moving on to the next level.
"It's a big decision, and it seems kind of impossible to take it all in, but I guess I'll have to make a choice at some point," Darling said. "It's just that we've been a really close group here at Owens, and now I'll have to start over with a new team someplace else. I'll have to get ready for a new challenge."
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