Daniels returns for school’s Hall of Fame induction tonight

Antonio Daniels and his teammates used to pack Anderson Arena in the mid-’90s with a combination of alley-oops, tough defense and great shooting.

Today, he makes his return to the University where it all started. Daniels is one of seven new inductees to the BGSU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Even though he’s won an NBA Championship and played alongside stars like Tim Duncan, Ray Allen and Gilbert Arenas, Daniels is flattered by the distinction.

“I was excited because it was a great honor,” he said Tuesday in a phone interview. “Any time you’re inducted into any sort of Hall of Fame it’s a great honor.”

Since he was drafted fourth in the 1997 NBA Draft, Daniels has carved out a very respectable pro basketball career. His college coach may have seen it coming all along.

“I remember when I was coming through there looking at different schools, Coach [Jim] Larranaga told me I had an opportunity to come in and be one of the best basketball players that has ever come out of there,” Daniels said. “So that was a goal of mine.”

Larranaga, now the head coach at George Mason, wasn’t just trying to sweet talk Daniels apparently.

The only player in the school’s history drafted higher than Daniels, Nate Thurmond has a bust in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.

Daniels averaged more than 12 points per game in his freshman season on his way to being named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year for the 1993-’94 season.

In his senior season, Daniels averaged 24 points and was named MAC Player of the Year.

BG wasn’t Daniels’ only choice when he was recruited in high school, but they showed him the most dedication. After he broke his leg at the end of his junior season of high school, Larranaga and his staff didn’t back off.

“Bowling Green always stayed with me, they were loyal,” Daniels said.

Daniels was originally introduced to Larranaga when the coach recruited his brother, Chris. A sophomore in high school at the time, Daniels liked the environment.

Heading into his NBA 11th season, Daniels averages eight points per game for his career. He’s on his fifth NBA team, the Washington Wizards. Primarily a bench player, Daniels brings instant offense to the court.

He’s got the reputation of a hard worker who does what it takes for his team to win.

“He’s coming off the bench controlling the game, controlling the tempo, making plays on defense, on offense,” said Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas in a Jan. 26 interview. “He’s doing all of the little things you don’t see on the stat sheet.”

Daniels is also very dedicated to the community and still holds two basketball camps in Texas where he keeps his off-season home.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with kids.” Daniels said. “Any opportunity I have to share my experiences and show how kids can get better at the fundamentals of the game I think that’s one of the reasons that God has put me here.”

Daniels will make a stop at Anderson Arena sometime today and said he might shoot around with the team.

He said he won’t be throwing down any thunderous dunks, though.

The induction ceremony will be taking place after a formal dinner tonight in the Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The inductees will also be introduced at half-time during tomorrow’s football game.