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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Daly hopes underdog mentality sparks pro career

Daly averaged 18.5 points per game in the 2020-21 season. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Toughness, competitiveness and a balanced style of play are what redshirt senior guard Ryan Daly can bring to a professional basketball team. 

Following a successful collegiate career that started at the University of Delaware before thriving at St. Joe’s, Daly has foregone his remaining year of eligibility and declared for the 2021 NBA draft. 

He led not only the Hawks, but the entire Atlantic 10 (A-10) in scoring during the 2019-20 season, and was named to the 2020 A-10 All-Conference third team during his first year on the court for St. Joe’s. Prior to his time on Hawk Hill, Daly was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) third team in back to back years, and won 2017 CAA Rookie of the Year during his first two seasons with the Blue Hens.

According to Daly, everything he has accomplished has built up to his declaration for the draft, and now it is the right time to make the jump.

“I have done all I can do at the college level to prove that I can play professionally,” Daly said. “It is time for me to move on.”

Josh Verlin, founder of the Philadelphia area basketball blog City of Basketball Love, said that Daly is a talented player but will have a tough road ahead to making an NBA roster.

“As a fifth year player, [Daly] is 23, that’s old for the NBA Draft,” Verlin said. “If you’re going to take a 23 year old in the NBA Draft, it’s probably going to be someone who did not do much as a freshman or sophomore and continued to get better over their career and showed they have the potential to keep improving.”

Verlin said he has watched Daly play for eight years and has a lot of admiration for Daly’s game. However, at this point, his on-court playing style will not change much and that does not help his NBA chances.

Daly said that although he does not have much untapped potential left, his balance as a player can make up for that.

“I am an underrated passer and rebounder, and I think I have a complete overall game,” Daly said. “I have never been just a scorer.”

St. Joe’s men’s basketball Head Coach Billy Lange, former player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, said when drafting players, you look for identifiable skills that make someone draftable. Lange said that for Daly, those skills are his rebounding and passing.

“[Daly] gave us half a dozen to 10 open shots a game that we just did not make,” Lange said. “He could have been a guy that averaged eight, nine, 10 assists a game with a better team shooting, as a junior.”

According to Lange, Daly has had to carry heavy burdens during his collegiate career, going through coaching transitions at both St. Joe’s and Delaware. He has also had to shoulder the scoring load on both stops and has always been at the top of the opponent’s game plan. Lange said he is curious to see how Daly will fare when he is not the main focus of the other team’s defense.

“The biggest question mark is what will [Daly] look like if he’s the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth most burdened player on a team?” Lange said. “It’s going to come down to his ability to make catch and shoot threes, because he is not going to have to do everything that he has had to do at Delaware and St. Joe’s.”

Verlin said that seeing Daly in the NBA is not likely, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t have a successful professional basketball career.

“He is going to have a really good pro career,” Verlin said. “Maybe it is in the G League, but more realistically I would think he signs over in a quality league in Europe and proves that he can play at that level.”

Lange said in order for Daly to make an NBA roster, he will have to continue to hone the skills that have let him thrive at the collegiate level.

“Even if you make it to the NBA, there are people right on your heels that did not make it that are still coming for those spots,” Lange said. “Most guys in that position have to have a maniacal approach to working on their craft.”

Daly said he does not expect to be on a roster by the start of next season, but is confident he can make a summer league team and prove himself there.

“Right now my plan next year is to try to slip through the cracks, whether it’s a two-way contract, or a 10-day contract, or whatever it may be. I need a lot of luck,” Daly said. “I am hoping that I get a chance, and I play well in that opportunity and then see where it goes from there.”

Lange said that he has faith that Daly will make the most of any opportunity he gets, regardless of where or when that opportunity may come. 

“Over four years of college basketball, Ryan Daly has earned a chance to compete against the guys in the NBA Summer League,” Lange said. “If he does all of the things I have mentioned, I would be curious to see if he is able to have that type of opportunity sometime in the next five months.”

Daly said he is willing to play overseas if there is little to no NBA interest after a year, but he is determined to defy the odds and play at the sport’s highest level. 

“I most likely won’t be drafted, I understand that,” Daly said “But I have been an underdog my whole life. Hopefully I can keep proving people wrong.”

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