By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
One of the most successful basketball players in recent NIC-10 history is getting set to take his game to the next level and a bigger stage.
JD Danforth, a former NIC-10 Player of the Year who averaged 20 points per game for Rockford Auburn in the 2009-2010 season, has signed a scholarship offer from Kentucky Wesleyan after a good two-year career at Highland Community College.
Danforth spent the last two years playing on a deep Highland team where he averaged nearly 9 points per game last season and was second on the team in 3-pointers.
He helped lead Highland to back-to-back Arrowhead Conference championships, as well as a NJCAA Division I 2012 Region IV championship.
In moving on to Kentucky Wesleyan, Danforth will be moving to one of the most successful college basketball programs in the country. The Panthers have won more NCAA Division II championships — eight — than any other school, and trail only UCLA’s 17 on the all-time list for all divisions of the NCAA.
“They offered me a scholarship, and I was really happy and really thankful for the opportunity,” Danforth said of the opporunity. “It’s really exciting, knowing what I went through, not knowing if I was going to have to go to a lower school that may have been below my level of play. I thought I was going to have to settle. But I kept praying, kept working out and kept performing in the games, and it came through.”
The scholarship comes after some trying times at Highland for Danforth. Days before he signed with Highland, the school changed coaches.
Under coach Zach Roman, Danforth played well, but had undisclosed issues with the coach, as did several other players. At the end of the season, Roman resigned amid these issues, and it left Danforth to work that much harder to find an offer on his own.
“They were one of the only schools that were really on me hard,” he said. “I went through a lot of adversity with the coach at Highland and went through some tough times there. They were the only school that really stuck it out. That really drew me there. Plus, they are a top-notch program.”
Another big selling point for Danforth was his familiarity with the program. Friend and former Auburn Knights star Kwan Waller also attended Kentucky Wesleyan, where he had a great career and is now playing overseas.
He said Waller really helped convince him that it was a good school. Danforth also said the fact the school sends players to play professionally, either in the United States or abroad, really helped draw him to the program.
The Panthers are looking for Danforth to come in and fill some holes in their backcourt. Despite a strong 23-8 season, Danforth said the coaching staff feels he can fill several needs for the team.
“They’re looking for a combo guard that can play defense and score,” he said. “They said they needed a slasher that could shoot, and they thought I fit that category.”
From the July 4-10, 2012, issue