Most young athletes dream of playing professional sports, but don’t put a lot of thought into how they will get there. Sure, talent and academics are important, but they somehow believe that someone along the way will just plug in the missing pieces. For Eastern Arkansas basketball standout Daniel Bandy, his holes were plugged with misinformation. Nonetheless, a professional sports journey is not an easy feat, and Bandy’s commitment to succeed drove him to navigate a very unorthodox route to the next level. Read on to learn how Bandy uses the twists and turns of his career to minister to other young athletes!
It is easy to look at the struggles players experience in their professional careers; however, Daniel Bandy faced the challenge of misinformation. Many promising high school players don’t have the experience or knowledge to navigate the college recruiting process, and it can be tough to determine who to trust. An outstanding track and field athlete, as well as a promising basketball and football player, Bandy was faced with an unusual problem – trying to pursue too many options.
The Athlete’s NeXus sits down with Daniel Bandy.
With the success of multi-sport athletes like Terrell Owens and Bo Jackson, Daniel Bandy knew his natural athleticism would pave the way to a professional career. He was a natural at football, excelled effortlessly at track, but wanted to test his metal with basketball. At 5’10, he was shorter than the average basketball player, but what he lacked in height he more than made up for in heart. Bandy NEVER backed down from a challenge. He sought to push himself and defy the odds, and he did just that over his entire career.
Both of his parents were athletes in their youth but didn’t quite know how to guide him to a professional career. “I had no idea how little I knew.” Bandy shared. “My parents were focused on me getting the best education possible.” Like most parents, Bandy’s wanted him to receive the best education from this experience. They chose a small private high school, West Memphis Christian Academy in West Memphis, Arkansas, that would feed him both spiritually and mentally. He was a big fish in a small pond and admitted neither he nor his athletic advisers had the experience to maximize his collegiate options.
“The biggest lessons I learned during this time was humility. I can’t use the word humble enough. I was over-confident. Missteps, miscommunication, mistakes will truly keep you humble. I wanted to go to a school that would allow me to play both basketball and football. I had no idea how unrealistic a of demand that was,” Bandy shared. He was not aware at the time that getting an athletic scholarship was a difficult feat in one sport but requiring a major University to allow you to walk on to another team – not likely. He’d have to choose. When met with resistance from his top major NCAA team choices to be signed to a basketball scholarship, Bandy decided to attend Freed-Hardeman in Tennessee his freshman year. He could’ve signed a scholarship to a larger school in another sport straight out of high school, but he wanted to play basketball. He learned a lot about himself and what he wanted during this time.
“Going from high school to a smaller college let me know that I needed to buckle down and get in the right circles and find the right information.” Bandy shared. “I knew going into it I wasn’t going to stay, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake twice. I knew I had to get what I could out of it and prepare for the future. Most importantly, I also knew I had to leave the right way. I wanted to ensure I wouldn’t be leaving abruptly for one, not burning any bridges, and that the coaches knew what I was doing and why. I had to display the right character so that they understood I wasn’t just quitting, but making the transition that was best for my career.”
He was scouted by the University of Memphis during the Calipari days, and it appeared to be a good fit for his needs. Little did he know about transfer rules, he would have to sit out for a year – precious time for a young athlete. However, not one to let grass grow under his feet, he joined the track team and quickly made his mark. He won several awards and became a track and field stand-out at the collegiate level. His future was bright and he wanted to capitalize on his talents. After his transfer period expired, he finally began playing basketball under Coach Calipari before a new hurdle emerged. The team roster was heavy with world class athletes, such as guard Darius Washington, and Bandy quickly realized he wouldn’t receive the playing time he desired. Because of his work ethic and drive, his coaching staff advocated for him to be transferred to a team that would give him the opportunity that he needed to play.
Bandy warns young players to be humble and optimize their options. “Ask questions. Find a professional network of advisers to help you navigate the process. That’s why what you all do at the Athlete’s NeXus is so important. Players should seek mentors that have already gone through the process. I had the privilege of having professional players to advise me, like Marcus Brown and Chris Campbell, just to name a few to. Their insight gave me an entirely different way of approaching achieving my goals,” per Bandy. “The level of play wasn’t really as important as your production and your positive publicity.” Some athletes get caught in the hype of the size of the school, not considering if it would be a good fit for them and their needs. Equipped with information and the blessing and assistance of Coach Calipari, Bandy found his home at the College of the Ozarks. He was inserted into a thriving team that received a lot of publicity. “It was the best experience of my entire life! If I could have started there, I would have stayed.”
He flourished in his final years in college, culminating in invitations to both the Euro-League Competition and NBA Summer Leagues. He played professionally overseas for 4 years, spending time in Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and Iceland. Bandy went on to the start Faith Preparatory Academy Athletics – A National College Preparatory High School sports team, Primetime Basketball Performance – a basketball performance and development facility, and work with EuroHoops Placement Services, Inc – a global network of basketball professionals. Bandy’s focus on building, not burning, bridges has helped him secure a sponsorship with the And1 family for Faith Prep and Primetime Basketball brands. Above all, Bandy is a family man and is thankful for his opportunity to give back and help others.
Bandy encourages all young players to press on. Although his story has twists and turns, he never lost sight of his faith and his belief that his life was being guided by God. He uses his experiences and his career to minister to others. Best wishes, Daniel!
Follow Daniel’s success:
|FAITH PREP ACADEMY:
Facebook: Faith Prep Warriors
|PRIMETIME BASKETBALL PERFORMANCE:
Facebook: PrimeTime Basketball Performance
By LaToya Baker of The Athlete’s Nexus