Darren Collison: Etiwanda’s most prosperous athlete

Your team just lost the most important basketball game of the season, and you are trying to avoid the thought that it was probably because of your performance. What do you think you would do after a game like that? Most would probably go home and mourn over the loss. However, Darren Collison, an Etiwanda High School graduate from the class of 2005, who now plays in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings, would go to the local gym after those games and practice with his father in order to improve for the next game, according to his former coach, and current Etiwanda boys’ varsity basketball coach, David Kleckner.

Collison was your typical high school student. When he first started attending the school, he was quiet, kept to himself and did not talk to adults or even other students much. According to Kleckner, “He was a bit of an introvert,” just as any other young student unfamiliar to the school would be. 

However, as Collison grew up and progressed through grades, he became much more open and communicative, as both a student and a basketball player. By senior year, he was “making eye contact and shaking hands,” Kleckner said.

This now famous basketball player was dedicated, as shown by his hard work on the team. The player had a goal from the first day he set foot on the basketball courts inside the gymnasium: To be an NBA basketball player. With this goal in mind, he worked the hardest he could to make his dreams come true. Out of the four years of his high school basketball career, Collison did not once miss a practice or ever show up to practices without the proper equipment. Kleckner explained that Collison was the kind of person who would follow through with his goals, not just talk about them. He feels that for this reason, Collison was able to become very successful and achieve his goal of playing in the NBA. Overall as a basketball player, Collison was focused, dedicated, and hard-working, as explained by Kleckner. 

In his freshman year, Collison played on the junior varsity team. After a successful season with the junior varsity team, he was brought up to the varsity team. He actually ended up playing for the varsity team during the playoffs. Kleckner said that although Darren was a freshman playing on the varsity team, he was not timid going into his first game. “Darren played beautifully that game,” he said, “I knew from that day on, that Darren was special, and that he was going to become a big time basketball player.”

Collison was also a hard worker off the basketball courts. Kleckner explained that at one time Darren let his grades slip. His mother called the coach and explained that if he did not bring up his grades, he was not to play on the basketball team anymore. Collison brought up his grades immediately, and he was able to maintain those same grades for the rest of his high school career. “His GPA was almost always above a 3.0, and he never let it drop again,” Kleckner said.

There are many other successful basketball players who have attended Etiwanda. Some may even compare Collison to USC starter Jordan McLaughlin who is also an EHS grad. However, according to Kleckner, Collison is incomparable. 

“Some people try to compare stats, but there’s something unique about Collison that makes him different,” Kleckner said.

Overall, Collison was one of the most successful athletes to attend Etiwanda because he was dedicated, hard working, and unique because of his character. He attended UCLA, and now plays for the Sacramento Kings. According to Kleckner, Collison keeps in touch, and visits the school occasionally.

– Ty Koslowski