Dylan Darling’s blood runs crimson and gray

Scrappy and young, Dylan looks to live up to Darlings past.



WSU guard Dylan Darling defends against California guard Joel Brown during a NCAA men’s basketball game against California Jan 11th.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

Maybe it was fate for Dylan Darling to end up a Coug. His father James Darling starred on the gridiron for the Cougs in the 90s as a linebacker, winning multiple All-Pac-10 awards at the position. After a long NFL career, another Darling appeared in Eastern Washington.

All of the sudden, just a couple of hours away at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Dylan was averaging 33 points per game on great shooting percentages. He accepted an offer from WSU after that senior season, bringing the Cougs another Darling after 25 years without.

“It’s just special because it’s close to home,” Dylan said. “Especially when both my parents can come catch a game, my grandparents, my whole family. Growing up an hour and a half away, coming to all of the football games growing up and stuff like that makes it cool.”

As a freshman, many did not expect him to have to play much, as lots of freshmen end up working on development and only showing up in late-game blowouts or even redshirting a year. This was not in the cards for Dylan as injuries and a generally shallow rotation for the Cougs meant he would have to play significant minutes.

While he has not yet been looked to for the scoring prowess he displayed in high school and despite early struggles, Dylan has quickly made a name for himself as the scrappiest defender on the court.

“I kinda got kicked early by a couple guys like Oregon and Utah,” Dylan said on his in-season development. “Second time around I fared pretty well against them. Stuff like that means I’m growing.”

His teammates and coaches spoke about this development as well.

“He’s an identity guy. He just plays so hard, he’s got a really competitive spirit,” Head coach Kyle Smith said. “He’s still learning and growing but he’s got a fearlessness to him. He can make some things happen, whether it’s a deflection, taking a charge, getting pressure on the ball.”

While the offense has not come up to match the defense yet, Dylan is only a freshman. Being a contributor as a freshman is huge and bodes extremely well for his development. As of now, he helps the team in ways bigger than any box score can show you.

WSU guard Dylan Darling looks for a pass during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Utah, Dec. 4, 2022.

“Coach is always talking about an energy giver,” senior Ben Olesen said. “[Darling] gives everyone else energy by picking up the best player, usually the point guard, at 94 feet every time he comes into the game.”

“I think he is really growing into it and catching his footing under him. It’s hard as a freshman,” senior DJ Rodman said. “He’s handling it really well, it’s great to see him grow up from when I first met him on his visit.”

Looking to the future and at that development, Dylan shared a few of his goals.

“Next year specifically I want to win Pac-12 Most Improved Player,” Dylan said. “I feel like it’s achievable, with the spring and summer.”

WSU guard Dylan Darling shoots the ball during a NCAA men’s basketball game against California Jan. 11, 2023.

The last Coug to win the award was current NBA G-Leaguer Robert Franks in 2018. A number of other big names have won the award, such as Nikola Vucevic and Dwight Powell.

Dylan set his sights even higher for the years after that.

“By the end of my time here I want to be an All-Conference point guard. I want to hopefully win the conference and go to March Madness.” Dylan said. “Whatever comes after that comes, we’ll see.”

There is not a college basketball team out there that is not looking for the type of energy Dylan brings. It is so lucky for Wazzu that he was born a Coug and made it to where he can be out on the hardwood in the crimson and gray.

Dylan will look to be a Coug for years like his father before him and if his development this season and his years in high school are any prophecy, it seems like he will be a top part of this team in no time.