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Signing day: Dylan Darling cements legacy status, commits to Washington State basketball

April 13, 2022 Updated Wed., April 13, 2022 at 8:59 p.m.

Sometimes in life the direct route doesn’t get you where you’re supposed to go. For Dylan Darling, it got him there all the same.

Darling signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play basketball at Washington State. He signed it at his home in Liberty Lake in front of dozens of family members and friends – and athletes from at least four other Greater Spokane League schools.

Wednesday’s signing was a long way to go for the kid that came off the bench to play defense and allow older teammates to catch their breath in Central Valley’s run to the State 4A title game in Darling’s sophomore season.

“I am super excited,” Darling said before the festivities. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a while, and it’s finally here and it’s super exciting.”

“We are thrilled to have Dylan be a part of our program,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said through a school release.

“He is exactly the type of student-athlete we want to continue to build around. Dylan was born to be at WSU and is a Coug through and through. As the (Washington) 4A Player of the Year we are fortunate to be able to bring him in and hope to continue to bring in players just like him in the future. His desire and passion for the game is a rarity, and we are happy to have Dylan coming to the Palouse and fulfill his dream of being a Coug.”

Darling is Wazzu legacy – both of his parents, James and Kim, are WSU graduates. His father played football for four years at WSU and was a first-team All-Pac-10 honoree twice and second-team Sporting News All-American as a senior. He went on to play 10 years in the NFL.

“It’s a dream come true,” Dylan Darling said.

“I got off the phone with (Smith) and I was at my dad’s,” he said. “I told my dad, we were crying together. I called my mom, she was crying. It’s still crazy to me, surreal.

“Growing up a Coug with both parents going there and just kind of growing up knowing what being what a Coug is and being able to do it myself – it’s pretty special.”

“Kim and I both kind of looked at each other. ‘Did we hear this right?’ ” James Darling said. “And so I actually asked the question again, and we were like, ‘Wow.’ We couldn’t believe it.

“He’s been (going to) football games down there since he was – I mean, we were carrying him back to the car cause he was sleeping, that’s how young. And now we’ll be going down there to watch him play games. It was an incredible feeling for us.”

Darling played a key role off the bench his sophomore year, then the pandemic hit and limited his junior season to a dozen games – contests where he took on the role of a traditional distributing point guard.

He made his breakthrough during his senior year, breaking several team and league scoring records on the way. He smashed Adam Morrison’s league scoring mark by seven points, averaging 35.6 points over 13 league games.

“I think it speaks a lot to the type of character he has,” acting CV coach Geoff Arte said. “He just likes to win. And he did whatever it took for CV basketball to win.”

Darling averaged 33.2 points (on 55% shooting) overall while adding 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.4 steals per game, leading CV to an 18-8 record and eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his career.

In addition to his season records, the star guard set the league’s single-game scoring mark, scoring 58 points in a win over North Central on Feb. 1 – one week after scoring 47 against Mt. Spokane, which had tied the league’s single-game mark.

In the postseason, Darling took his game to another level, pacing the Bears to elimination game wins in the district and regional tournament before bowing to fourth-seeded Kamiakin at state. In that game, Darling scored 30 points, hitting 12 of 16 at the free-throw line, and dished nine assists, while guarding Kamiakin’s 6-foot-8 post Tyler Bilodeau (Oregon State) much of the second half.

For the 6-2 point guard, the journey has been worth the result.

“It is super satisfying,” he said. “It just kind of goes to show that it’s a marathon really. Just keep going and just work hard and it got me here and I’m happy.”

“It’s awesome for him and his family,” Arte said. “I mean, to be legacy at WSU and get to go play there. He’s just worked so hard to get to play college basketball. So anytime a kid can keep those dreams alive, it’s pretty fun.”

Darling had given an oral commitment to Idaho State earlier in the season, but once his tremendous run in postseason play prompted the Cougars to reach out, his decision was clear.

“It was everything I could have imagined and wanted it to be,” he said of his senior year. “We had a couple bumps in the road but just kept going. The guys battled all year. I love them all. Love coach Arte. I mean, it was perfect. And we had a lot more success than we should have. It was a hell of a year.”

With WSU coming off a run to the NIT semifinals, Darling’s goals for the future at WSU are pretty simple.

“I want to make a run in the tournament. March Madness,” he said. “Hopefully, win some Pac-12 titles. Really enjoy the four years, just how (high school) flew by. Just enjoy it, have some success and just have fun.”

Other area signings

Gonzaga Prep: Erin Ewers, Colorado College (soccer); John Finnegan, Whitworth (soccer); Noelani Krauss, Santa Clara (cross country); Bella Mazza, Whitworth (lacrosse); Jayden Stevens, Oregon State (basketball); Ephraim Watkins, Whitworth (football).

Mead: Erika Frahm, Seattle Pacific (soccer); JT Connors, Menlo College (wrestling); Kelsey Loeun, Simon Fraser (wrestling); Brycen Gardner, Carroll College (cross country and track); Emily Hutchinson, Cal State Northridge (track and field); Spencer Lyman, Whitworth (football); Courtney Osborn, Saint Martin’s (cross country); Kris Prince, Carroll College (football); Nick Sill, Briar Cliff (football); Mercedes Cullen, Seattle Pacific (soccer); Madi Zorn, Saint Mary’s (volleyball); Alexis Parker, Western Washington (cross country); Alanna Parker, Western Washington (cross country).

North Central: Isabella Bay, Western Washington (fastpitch softball); Ben Hippauf, Whitworth (soccer).

University: Will Kennedy, Evergreen State College (basketball).

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