Four years ago you stepped into Hec Edmunson Pavillion for your first game. You started at forward alongside Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Jon Brockman. We as Husky fans expected to see a solid role player and defensive presence over the course of your career. We did not expect what came next. Three NCAA Tournament appearances later here we are.
You are in the Husky record-books. Most games played by a Dawg. Ever. This speaks greatly to your importance on the team. The ability to stretch the defense from the four spot. The sky-in putbacks. You were irreplaceable in your time with the Dawgs. You displayed class and Senior leadership by agreeing to come off the bench for the majority of the season.
You showed that you were the emotional leader for this team. Players looked up to you. They will look up to you for the rest of their lives. Whenever you went to bat against the referees to defend your teammates, respect was earned. You led the team on the court, and were looked up to off of it. You poured your heart into this team and it showed.
On the hardwood you went from being a defensive specialist to a steady offensive presence. I will never forget the moment I first saw you hit a three pointer your Junior season. I was awed. You were known as a defensive presence and a hustle guy offensively. Now you have three-point range? The one thing in basketball that shows hard work is improvement the jump shot. by your improvement in the jumper, we got a glimpse into what made you successful. You have a desire. That desire is to be better. To improve shooting by as much as you did you had to work. Hours in the gym. Hours in the gym. Hours in the gym. No shortcut. Just shoot. That is what you did.
Your defense never went anywhere. It was always your calling card. Defense is ninety-percent effort. Every second on the floor you laid out one-hundred percent effort. That will be missed. Effort never goes unappreciated. Yours certainly did not.
You did what you had to do to improve. Your desire showed up on the court. Hustle balls were yours. Offensive rebounds fell into your hands. Desire, hustle, determination. These traits defined you on the court.
Thank you Darnell. Thank you for your grit. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your hustle. Thank you for your durability. Thank you for your toughness. On behalf of Husky Nation, thank you.
Husky Nation will always remember you fondly Birdman.
If you have anything to say to Mr. Gant, please put it in the comments below.