Daniel averaged 15.8 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a senior. He was named to the regional finals all-tournament team and the Birmingham News 2009 class of Super Seniors. He also won the Class 5-A slam dunk contest.
He was recruited by Alabama, South Alabama, Tennessee State, Chattanooga and Murray State.
“I chose MSU because it was the only school that stayed on top of things and made sure I was getting all my work done,” he said. “They called me more than anyone else to check on me and see how my family was doing. A lot of the time we didn't even talk about basketball. They were more concerned about my grades than anything else.”
Daniel played in all 36 games as a freshman at Murray State, although he saw limited action. He averaged just 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds as the Racers went 31-5 and beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“I didn't play as much as I expected to,” he admitted. “But I knew what my role was supposed to be. And I tried to do what was expected of me. It was hard to wait my turn but I understood that I was playing behind two or three upperclassmen.”
While some people were stunned by the Racers' success, Daniel says he expected it.
“I expected us to have a great season because we were really tight as a team,” he said. “We were more like a family and we knew each other and cared about each other more than a lot of teams do.
Murray State was rarely challenged, winning 14 games by 20 or more points.
“That was a lot of fun, the way we beat teams so badly,” Daniel said with a smile. “Of course it meant that I got to play more than I would have otherwise. It was a learning process for me though and Tony Easley stuck behind me the whole way. He told me what I needed to focus on. And he worked with me on my post moves the same way Ivan, Brandon and I are working with Harley (Nussman) now.”
And despite being matched up against highly regarded Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament, Daniel says that nerves weren't a factor.
"We just wanted to stay focused and make sure we were on top of our game,” he said. “We took it like they were just another team. There were a lot of people cheering us on that didn't really have anything to do with Murray State and that made us feel special. And playing in the tournament as a freshman was really special. We went to the locker room after the game and everyone was screaming and yelling. It's the most exciting thing that I've ever been a part of.”