College Basketball Nation: Ryan Darling

Ex-student manager gets a pro contract

September, 28, 2010
Earlier this year, wrote about Cal Poly forward Ryan Darling, the former student manager who walked onto the team and eventually worked his way into the starting lineup.

Darling played 26 games as a senior, and the feel-good story was supposed to end with the 6-foot-8 overachiever having gotten his day in the sun.

As it turns out, the story is getting even better because Darling now has a one-year contract to play in Germany.

Having been cut twice at Cal Poly and working as a team manager before finally getting a Mustangs uniform, Darling naturally had to work extra hard to become a pro as well.

From the Cal Poly website:
"As soon as spring break was over and the new quarter began, I started making videos, creating contacts and speaking with agents, coaches and players with overseas experience," Darling said. "I sent out a massive amount of e-mails, first to agents and then to individual clubs. My initial plan was to obtain a contract by having videos and my resume out to agents and clubs."

When that process failed to yield the desired results, Darling attended a training and exposure camp in Macedonia. He eventually received three professional offers from clubs in Germany and one in Slovakia before signing with SC Rasta Vechta.


"Ryan is one of the most optimistic and hardest-working players I have coached in 24 seasons," second-year head coach Joe Callero said. "We have a saying in our program: 'don’t just dream, work for your dream.' Ryan has certainly worked his way into his dream job."

Getting to know Cal Poly

January, 25, 2010
First-year Cal Poly coach Joe Callero spoke with ESPN's Andy Katz over the summer and indicated he was ready for the coaching challenge. The Mustangs were promptly picked last in the Big West preseason media poll.

But somehow, someway, Cal Poly has positioned itself to play in a big game on Thursday at UC Santa Barbara. The winner gets at least sole possession of second place in the conference.

The Mustangs are 8-10 overall, but 5-2 in conference play. They are riding a three-game winning streak coming off a one-point victory over defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge.

Cal Poly is led by guard Lorenzo Keeler, who averages 15.1 points per game and hung 38 on UC Irvine in the conference opener.

Fittingly, the Mustangs have a player named Darling. Senior walk-on Ryan Darling used to serve as a 6-foot-8 team manager, but worked his way into the rotation, started in a win at Long Beach State, and even notched a double-double.

“If you could say you could be anywhere else, be Brad Pitt for a day, I would choose to be here playing basketball at Cal Poly," Darling told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Cinderella, I presume?