Feb. 09, 2015

Brandon Applehans
bappleha@uccs.edu

Darius Pardner is a quiet guy by day and an enthusiastic and motivated basketball player when the lights turn on.

Entering play on Feb. 7, the men’s basketball team is 19-2, ranked ninth in the nation and tied for first in the RMAC. Pardner, who averages 8.5 points in just under 18 minutes per game, is amazed at the success.

“If you told me, ‘Darius: by your senior year, you’ll be 19-2, ranked number nine in the nation,’ I wouldn’t believe you,” Pardner said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I see this.

Pardner was recruited for basketball out of Overland High school in Aurora. He was originally recruited by former men’s head coach Russ Caton, but has quickly adapted to current head coach Jeff Culver.

“Basketball taught me about life, more than life’s taught me about life,” he said. “There’s so much you have to go through.”

“Culver became our new coach and I had to adjust. When life throws you a curveball, you can’t get caught looking. It’s taught me to overcome adversity, time management and to be mentally tough.”

Pardner’s season high 18 points came against Colorado School of Mines, a college he planned on attending before UCCS.

“Something about Mines gets me going, and the games bring something out of me,” he said. “I was supposed to go there … so I look at them as like ‘what would it have been like?’”

Pardner is a person who lives in the moment, whether it’s hitting a clutch shot in a game or working at the communication center and lending a hand as a public speaking tutor.

“My mood is how I play,” he said. “If I’m amped up and ready to play, it only helps my game. If I hit one shot, it’s over after that. You have to love every moment.”

Pardner not only juggles work and basketball, but has created his own club: Athletes for Christ.

“It’s a place where anybody on campus can come and share their ideas about life,” he said. “It’s a place where you can come talk about college in general.”

“I wanted a place where people can feel truly comfortable.”

Pardner will graduate this May. As for his plans after college, Pardner has a yearning to change lives, as his was changed for the better at UCCS. One idea is a foundation.

“None of my friends, my dearest high school friends, ever went to college. I don’t think they had the appropriate resources and opportunity to go to college.”

“I feel everyone should be available to further their education.”