His broad shoulders tensed as the buzzer sounded in Indiana University’s Assembly Hall. The Florida A&M University Rattlers had lost to the Hoosiers in Bloomington, 100-63.
Darius Glover did not hit the court that night, but quite possibly he took the loss the hardest.
“Coach Gillespie came up to me after the game and said, ‘If we would have had you out there, we could have beat them,'” Glover adds with a touch of melancholy in his voice. “I felt kind of bad.”
The Indiana game was just one of the entire season he’s sitting out redshirting in his senior year.
The Chicago native and head Coach Mike Gillespie agreed that redshirting was the best decision for him since FAMU is not eligible to compete in the championship this season. University officials self-imposed the sanction because of numerous NCAA compliance violations that surfaced this year.
“If we can’t win a championship then why play,” Glover noted. “I mean, I was the best player on the team.”
Gillespie doesn’t disagree.
“He’s such an emotional player and such an outstanding player with such a toughness,” Gillespie said. “We are certainly missing him and look forward to having him back next year.”
For the 22-year-old, basketball is at the center of every high and low-point of his life. But who is Darius Glover without the ball in his hands?
To some degree, he’s just finding out.
“The happiest day of my life was the first time I played basketball when I was 7,” the criminal justice major says as he reflects on his old Biddy League team, the Miami Heat. His first game, outside of dunking the ball on the Nerf hoop in his room, was at the Sherwood Park YMCA.
“We had a Biddy League tournament and there were about 19 teams. I remember the hoops were really low,” Glover chuckles.
It would be at another tournament for a city league in high school where Glover would meet his best friend Richard Russell.
“My first time meeting Darius was when we busted their a***es in the Von Stuben Basketball Tournament. We were on opposing teams,” Russell quipped.
The two were unable to remain separated for long though deciding to spend the summer after their freshman year going to recruitment camps together.
That summer they were together at Top 80, Junior All-American and Rick Ball Camp. At Rick Ball, Russell said he remembers Coach Mike Gillespie calling him on his cell phone. “He called and was like telling me about FAMU and he was asking me about Darius ’cause all the coaches knew we were best friends.”
The next year Russell was playing in Tallahassee.
Glover was not far behind.
“Richard said it was a great college environment and I wasn’t looking for the big time program. I was looking for some place that needed me,” Glover said.
The next year, however, Russell was forced to sit out an entire season with a severe ankle-sprain, during which time Russell said he lost focus and decided to leave FAMU and enlist in the Navy.
“Darius was hurt by that because they are like brothers, said Doris Glover, Darius’s mom. “They are both my sons and though I was disappointed, I knew Darius and Richard would be OK.”
The inability to play with one of his best friend did not keep Darius off the court. In fact his coaches say he played harder.
“I don’t know if he has any weaknesses as a person but he does have some as a player and that’s what we’re working on this season.”
In the meantime, Glover says he catching up on his studies and relaxing.
“I’m probably the most chill person you’ll ever meet,” Glover said. “That’s why I love R&B ’cause it relaxes me. It relaxes your mind and I know most players will disagree and say you need to be amped, but my mind frame is you have to be as relaxed as possible.”
Looking toward the future Glover believes he can lead the Rattlers to a MEAC Championship and the NCAA Tournament next season. But if he doesn’t get the opportunity to play in the NBA, he hopes to join another prestigious three-letter organization.
“I would want to work for the FBI as an agent in the field because I want to catch all the crooks,” Glover said.
If he has the same passion for justice that he has for basketball, he just might.
Contact Robbyn Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org