Up until the last week, Darhius Nunn could hardly have asked for a better senior season.
A 2016 graduate of Fairmont Senior High School, Nunn found stability and success in his first season at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a private Christian school in West Palm Beach, Fla.
After spending the majority of his first three years in college on losing teams at Glenville State, the 5-foot-9 Nunn joined the Sailfish and helped guide them to a 21-9 record.
PBA had a good enough season that it qualified for its first NCAA Tournament as a member of Division II. The sixth-seeded Sailfish were to face No. 3 Valdosta State in a first-round matchup in the South Regional until the NCAA canceled postseason events in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“It was a great season all around and we had so much hype going in, so it was just devastating,” Nunn said. “You have to deal with the circumstances given to us and trust God, but it’s definitely very devastating.”
Nunn was tied for third on the team with an average of 14.7 points and led the Sunshine State Conference with 6.1 assists. Nunn, who started all 30 games, also contributed 63 steals and shot better than 87 percent (97-of-111) at the free throw line.
“I was just trying to read the defense and make the right basketball play,” Nunn said. “Coming down here and being on an older team, it helped me be mentally there with everybody. It definitely helped my game evolve more.”
Including Nunn, the top six scorers on PBA were all juniors or seniors.
“All five of our starters reached 1,000 career points this year, so it was kind of cool coming to an older team with everybody looking to win,” Nunn said. “It was just a magical year. Every time we needed that big shot, it always clicked.”
Prior to playing collegiately, Nunn was well known across the Mountain State for what he accomplished at Fairmont Senior. A two time Class AA first-team all-state selection, Nunn was chosen captain of the all-state team in 2016 — the same season he led the Polar Bears to a state championship.
Nunn opted to play at GSC, where he made an immediate impact as a freshman, before leading the Pioneers in scoring at 18.8 points in his sophomore season.
The Pioneers made a coaching change between Nunn’s sophomore and junior seasons, and although Nunn originally announced his intention to transfer, he backtracked and stuck with Glenville. Nine games into what was looking like a special junior season for Nunn, however, he was dismissed from the team. At the time, Nunn was averaging more than 22 points and nearly 10 assists.
Searching for a place to finish his career, Nunn discovered Palm Beach Atlantic through Gary Meeks, a former Notre Dame High and current Robert C. Byrd boys basketball assistant coach who played the 1994-1995 season at Cleveland State — where Sailfish head coach David Balza was an assistant at the time.
“I sent him the highlight tapes, showed him the stats and said, ‘here’s my number,’” Nunn recalled. “Coach Balza literally called me that same day. We stayed in contact, I flew down for a visit and when I got there, I knew it was the place for me. I loved West Palm.”
Although Nunn had to adjust to being far away from his hometown, the warm climate helped him do just that.
“Being by the beach kept me positive and thankful for where I’m at, instead of going somewhere I wouldn’t like the location as much,” Nunn said. “Being in Florida definitely helped me transition better being without my family and everything.”
With this season now over, Nunn has appealed to the NCAA for another year of eligibility from the season in which he played nine games at Glenville State. He originally expected to have an answer by the end of March, but says “with the virus, I feel like it might get pushed back.”
Regardless of whether his collegiate career has come to an end or not, Nunn hopes to stay around the hardwood in the future.
“All the paperwork is in, so I’m really just looking for an answer,” Nunn said. “I’m also trying to get connected to go overseas.
“Really just waiting on the decision on if I’m getting my year back and seeing when all these camps are going to start picking up. If I can’t come back to Palm Beach Atlantic, I would want to get overseas or somehow get into coaching. I’m going to graduate in the spring, so I could be a (graduate assistant) somewhere. I definitely want to still be involved with basketball.”