Larkin feels at home as a Hornet

Kevin Larkin is the Hornet’s leading scorer this season with 16.5 points per game. (DSU Athletics photo)

DOVER — Kevin Larkin always wanted to play his final year of college basketball back home.

But there were some roadblocks for the former Sussex Tech standout this summer as he looked to transfer.

The University of Delaware never got back to him. Delaware State University did not have a head coach.

So Larkin was all set to use his last year of eligibility at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Then, Delaware State finally hired Eric Skeeters in late July. Larkin de-committed from UMES and signed on to play for Skeeters.

“Just being a Delaware kid, playing in front of everybody one more time,” Larkin said, “you can’t ask for anything more than that,”

Larkin’s Delaware State career is off to a solid start — he’s the team’s leading scorer with 16.5 points per game.

Perhaps more importantly, Larkin is one of the few players on the Hornet roster who had any Division I basketball experience prior to this season. He spent the last two years playing at Niagara University.

He graduated Niagara in the spring but had one more year of eligibility remaining.

Skeeters is glad Larkin chose to use that year in Dover. He tells the story of how Larkin joined the team with a laugh which almost sounds like a sigh of relief.

“The funny thing about Kev is when he first called I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t know,” Skeeters said. “I was trying to get young guys in so I was like, ‘We’ll see.’”

But Skeeeters quickly realized his answer to Larkin should be yes.

“He’s played college basketball before,” Skeeters said, describing his thought process. “He played in the postseason at Niagara. He’s a local kid. And he wants to be here? You can’t turn that kid down. Can’t do it. If you turn that kid down, he’ll play for somebody else and come beat you.”

That somebody else could have been Delaware.

Larkin grew up a Blue Hen fan and said he wanted to play for UD since he was a sophomore in high school. He never got the offer though out of Sussex Tech when he graduated in 2014 and ended up at Cheyney University in Pennsylvania.

Larkin was one of the top Division II scorers in the country at Cheyney and won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year award.

He then looked to use that strong debut season to transfer to a Division I program. But again did not hear back from Delaware and elected to play for Niagara.

He sat out the 2015-2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules and played in 51 games for Niagara over the next two years.

It all came full circle for Larkin on Wednesday.

He lifted Delaware State to a 73-71 victory at Delaware after he converted a go-ahead putback basket with three seconds left.

He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. It was only his second-time playing at the Bob Carpenter Center, he did it once before at the 2014 Blue-Gold high school senior all-star game.

Larkin admitted he did take some extra satisfaction, beating the school who ignored him during recruitment but said at the end of the day he’s moved on.

“I never got a phone call from them, nothing,” Larkin said. “I emailed them when I left Niagara, Cheyney, I tried. Nothing against them though, good luck to them this season.”

Above all else, Larkin is just happy to be home.

“DelState is 20 minutes from home and it’s family-oriented,” he said. “I had a lot of really good friends that were Hornets during my playing years. I kind of wanted to carry that tradition.”

While Larkin’s impact is being felt on the court now, he’s recorded a double-double in four of DSU’s last five contests, Skeeters thinks Larkin’s presence this season will help down the road.

The Hornets had just four healthy players returning this season — senior Saleik Edwards, senior Jon Mitchell, sophomore Pinky Willey and sophomore Ameer Bennett. Larkin joined the team along with four freshmen who Skeeters was able to recruit late in the summer.

Larkin knows his role is to help bring the newcomers up to speed on Division I basketball and the Hornets were able to knock off their first Division I opponent with the upset of Delaware last week.

“They’ve been learning and we’ve been learning together this season,” Larkin said. “Winning Division I basketball games is hard. It’s 40 minutes of grit and grind. I think we know what it takes now to win against a Division I opponent. This is just the first one. We got to get back in the lab and keep going harder so we can take it to another level.”

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