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Early freshmen gain experience in the NCAA Tournament

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UCLA assistant coach Tasha Brown calls him “Small Intern” Փ Dominique Darius does not mind.

Darius realizes that he still has a lot to learn about college basketball when most young women his age are finally pushed to graduate from high school.

Players like Darius, who graduated early, not only gain initial and valuable experience in their university basketball careers as they were included early, but are counted on to help teams across the country maintain their seasons as players keep the COVID-19 records. ,

Now some will make their debut in combat madness on the big stage of the NCAA Tournament.

When Darius arrived in Southern California in an effort to quickly find his horse after nine months of under-organized basketball, Bruins coach Corey Close made it clear: In order not to put pressure on Darius immediately to strike big blows, he just had to swallow as much as he could.

“I find myself in the depths of things,” said Darius. “The first day I got in, I got there early, I was just shooting because I hadn’t fired in a week, because I was quarantined. I was like, ‘Dang, I don’t have my shot or feeling for the game,’ they did not expect me. “

Darius, who attended Blair Academy boarding school in New Ersey but did not have a senior season due to COVID, spent many hours studying film and working out in the gym.

In the state of Oregon, the eighth seed of the Hemisphere Beavers grows stronger than Talia von Olhofen. The same goes for Sailor Poffenberger for Connecticut, 1 seed for the River Walk District for the overall second team in the tournament.

Poffenbarger is happy to have the best of both worlds. She was accepted to UConn in January, but Middletown High School in Maryland welcomes her return for both her graduation and graduate classes.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I was at a point in my small town where I was ready to move on.”

This helped one of his best friends, Olivia Miles, get accepted to Notre Dame early. They regularly talk about their common experience.

“What we are discussing is a lot: to know our role, to find our role, to fit into the role, to do everything we can to not do it,” said Poffenberger. “But he’s talking about going to college in general. “Literally in high school a few months ago, we were in college, taking college classes.”

Early admissions are not unique to women’s play. There are several teams in the Men’s Tournament featuring medieval students, including the top-ranked Gonzaga և 2 in Ohio.

6-foot և 10-year-old Ben Gregg enrolled at Gonzaga in December և averaged 1.2 points in 47 minutes in 14 games. The Buckeyes put pressure on goalkeeper Meechie Johnson Jr. for some significant minutes in January due to injury, although he played only 17 games in total and has not played more than 10 minutes since.

While any minute is valuable to early admissions students, Darius makes the most of his time.

He immediately promoted to UCLA, as the top 30 recruits in the same number of years in the program are recruits. In 14 games he averaged 9.1 points և 1.1 hits.

“It simply came to my notice then. Every time I lose my temper, coach Shannon (Perry-Leboff) says: “He’s a high school senior, Corey,” Clooney said. “It’s really amazing because he’s physically fit. He is a high level athlete, long, strong, a great body for the game, a great athlete. But all the mental aspects, all the skills, the pace of the game, they are a lot of adjustments there.

“I think Dominke has a great future for us, I told him all along, ‘all you can do is grow from it.’

From the coach’s point of view, it is difficult to know how a player will fare in the midst of a busy conference schedule.

Von Olhofen of Oregon graduated from his junior high school in Pascoe, Washington, and soon arrived at Corvallis University.

Beavers coach Scott Rook said: “It was kind of a mystery to add a senior to your team at that moment.”

But Von Oelhofen provided the immediate depth of the perimeter, impressing everyone with his ability to learn many positions quickly.

“It’s crazy, it happened so fast, but you know it’s COVID, everything you just do with your fists,” Von Olhofen told Pac-12 Networks. “So that’s kind of my new normal.”

Although California does not play in the post-season, coach Sharmin Smith is grateful for the timely arrival of Mia Mastrov, who allowed the Golden Bears to continue playing. And Smith knows what the NCAA experience can mean for other freshmen like Darius.

“It’s very important for Dominic to have tournament experience at UCLA,” said Smith.

Leading No. 1 Stanford did not have a chance to bring anyone in soon, but Hall of Fame coach Tara Van Derver is there for it.

“It’s a bonus year,” VanDerveer said. “Everyone really has an extra year. : I think it’s great that they allowed themselves to do that, և they were able to take advantage. “It helped some teams that were really small – maybe they were predicted in the NCAA.”

In addition to his experience in court, Darius received one more privilege. He left the dormitory, living his first year in college.

“We can’t put you in a dorm now,” said Coach Corey. “You’ve seen a good life.”


AP Sports Writers Anne M. Peterson, Pat Eaton-Rob և Aaron Bard contributed to this report.


More AP Women College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball և https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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