College notebook: Senior Day special for Hens’ Darian Bryant

Delaware senior Darian Bryant is slated to play in his 93rd game with Delaware today. (Delaware sports information/Mark Jordan)

Like any other college kid, Darian Bryant can get down on himself sometimes.

But then the Delaware basketball player thinks about his mom, JoAnn, who hasn’t let a devastating cancer diagnosis six years ago stop her.

“Whenever I’m going through it, mentally or physically, I just think about her,” said Bryant. “I snap out of it real quick and say, ‘OK, I’ve got to remain locked in, remain focused and get back to the task at hand.’”

There was a time when Bryant wasn’t even sure if his mom was going to be there for his high school Senior Night. But now she’ll be there for Bryant’s college Senior Day today.

Bryant along with fellow seniors Eric Carter and Ryan Johnson will be honored before the Blue Hens close the regular season with a 4 p.m. game against CAA leader Hofstra.

According to a story on BlueHens.com, JoAnn Burke-Hill was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2013. The disease had about a 60-percent survival rate.

She underwent a double mastectomy, four surgeries and 28 rounds of radiation.

So, yeah, Bryant will be grateful to have both his mom and dad, Arthur Bryant, take the Carpenter Center floor with him before today’s game.

“There was a chance she couldn’t have made it,” said Bryant. “That kind of stuck with me since then. I’m proud of her for being able to push through and overcome that obstacle. That was a huge obstacle to overcome.

“It’s going to be wonderful to see them out there with me on the court, one last time as a student-athlete. We’ve been though ups and downs together. … They’ve always been my backbone and my support when I was down and out.”

Bryant has had his own physical obstacles to overcome. The 6-foot-4 has had to deal with bulging disks in his back for which he had injections and then surgery two years ago.

But the former George Washington transfer battled through it. He’ll be playing in his 93rd game with the Hens today.

“It was hard to deal with,” he said about his back injury. “I’d wake sometimes and my legs would be stiff. It just goes to show you that your body’s a temple and you have to take care of it every day.”

“He’s dealt with a lot of adversity,” said Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby. “I’m just really proud of what he’s been able to do here — the leadership he’s brought to the table, his confidence on the offensive end. He’s just a versatile guy that makes winning plays.

“‘Just tell me what you need me to do, Coach.’ Buying in and digging in. He’s set a great example for the younger guys. He’s the kind of guy who just handles his business, takes care of himself and leaves it out on the court every night.”

Notes

• Delaware State’s Kevin Larkin recently scored the 1,000th point of his college basketball career. The Sussex Tech High grad transferred to DSU for his final year of eligibility after playing at Cheyney and Niagara.

• Former Smyrna High wrestler Brent Fleetwood, now wrestling at North Dakota State, is rated No. 9 in the NCAA coaches’ rankings at 125 pounds entering this weekend. Fleetwood (21-3) will compete at the Big 12 Conference Championships March 9-10 to attempt to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship meet.

• Dover High products Kendall Small and Dakota Graham each homered for the Wilmington University baseball team in a win over No. 19 St. Thomas Aquinas last weekend. Small is batting .308 through four games with seven RBI while Graham is 6-for-9 (.667) with four runs scored as Wilmington (4-0) moved into the Division II polls at No. 21 this week.

• Cape Henlopen grad Luke Johnson is also off to a hot start for Wilmington. The freshman was named CACC Player of the Week for the opening week. He started all four games and batted .471 with a double, triple, two home runs and a team-high 10 RBI.

• Delaney Steele (Caesar Rodney) has scored two goals in two games for the Wilmington University women’s lacrosse team.

• Hailey Andrews, a Woodbridge product, has pitched in nine games for the Kennesaw State softball team and leads the squad with a 3.73 ERA. She has recorded 39 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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