James Daniel is getting another chance to do what his left ankle didn’t allow last season.
As a junior at Howard during the 2015-16 season, the guard led the nation in scoring at 27.1 points per game and had the Bison poised for a run to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Instead, an ankle injury suffered 11 days before the season opener at Michigan that was initially misdiagnosed robbed him of all but two games last season.
Now the 6-foot, 175-pound Daniel is looking to make a strong impact on a bigger stage as a graduate transfer. Today, Daniel confirmed to The Dispatch that he will take four official visits next month, kicking off with an Ohio State visit May 14 and 15. After that, he will visit Tennessee May 16 and 17, Michigan May 27 and 28 and DePaul May 29 and 30. The plan is to make a decision soon after his visits are complete.
Those are his final four schools after receiving interest from more than 50 programs once he finalized his decision to pursue a graduate transfer. Cutting his list wasn’t a major challenge, said Daniel, who is from Hampton, Virginia.
“One of the easier parts was I wanted to play in a Power Five conference,” he said. “I wanted to play on a team that could compete and I wanted to commit to a team where I could make a difference.”
After missing the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season, Ohio State is in need of a spark entering next season. For his career, Daniel averaged 21.5 points while shooting 36.6 percent (532 for 1,452) from the field and 33.5 percent (245 for 731) from three.
As a graduate transfer, Daniel will be eligible to play this season but will have just one season of eligibility.
The Buckeyes were in the middle of the pack as far as when schools started reaching out, Daniel said, but he is familiar with the program.
“Ohio State, they’ve had good guards come out (of there),” he said. “They’ve had a couple one-and-done guys. Ohio State is a premier program, which just about every kid knows about. I know they had Aaron Craft, Mike Conley, D’Angelo Russell. I’ve always kept pretty good tabs on who they were.”
The last two years don’t necessarily impact him, Daniel said, because “I really feel like I can be that guy to get the best out of other guys on the team. Sometimes all a team needs is a leader or somebody to bring out the best out of all of them. I know Ohio State has size. They have what you need but sometimes you’re just missing that one piece.”
Coach Thad Matta and associate coach Dave Dickerson are working as his primary recruiters.
“They’re two phenomenal guys,” Daniel said. “You can tell that they’re just stand-up guys and they’re ready to win. They’re ready to take the next step, and so am I.”
Daniel said all of his remaining schools are recruiting him to play the same position, but it’s not primarily handling the ball.
“I wouldn’t say point guard,” he said. “I’d say…