He got to play 21 games with the Sacramento Kings during the 2004-2005 season before spending last year with the Fayetteville Patriots in the NBA Developmental League. But rather than view that as a wasted year, Daniels used the time to improve his overall game.
Put on entertaining show
"My year went well. Right now I am already working out again and working on the individual parts of my game to prepare for summer league play. I don't really know which team I will play for since the (NBA) season is still going on, but I know I want to show people I have improved," Daniels said during a stop here last week to play with Kentucky seniors in their barnstorming tour across the state.
Daniels put on an entertaining show for the fans following his solid season in the Developmental League. He was sixth in the league in scoring at 17.6 points per game, shot 48.8 percent from the field, pulled off 8.1 rebounds per game and had more assists (2.9) than turnovers (2.5) each game.
Daniels has said two seasons of professional basketball actually were easier than his years at Kentucky.
"In college, you practice a lot more and a lot harder. Now I just mainly play games. Plus, you have to go to class and keep up in college," he said. "The hard thing now is the travel. You are on the road a lot, sometimes for several weeks. You have to learn to eat right and get your rest.
"I have trimmed down a little bit on my fat and toned my body up. You have to stay in shape year round to play at the top level. I am pretty proud that I am still getting paid to play a game I love, but I really want to find a way to get to the NBA and stay."
Needs consistency, ballhandling skills
Daniels says he still needs more consistency and better ballhandling skills if he wants to stick with a NBA team next year. That's one reason he wasn't bashful about leading the fast break or taking 3-point shots in the exhibition game here.
"I was in position to handle the ball more last year, but I have to keep working on the little parts of my game," he said. "There's a big talent difference between the NBA and the other league.
"Guys up there (in the NBA) are getting millions of dollars to play. In the minor leagues, you don't get that much. I've got to work hard to get with those guys at the top because they are talented and really know how to play the game of basketball."
However, no matter where he's playing, Daniels has a good time and is thankful for the opportunity to still entertain fans. When his season ended and UK senior Ravi Moss had to drop off the tour to maintain his eligibility to play football, Daniels jumped at the chance to play on the barnstorming tour just as he had two years earlier with teammates Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins.
"It wasn't too hard for them to get me to play. They needed guys because they are a little short-handed. But I like to get out and have fun. Fans don't get to see us that much, so I enjoy letting them watch me play," he said. "The fans were always great to me at Kentucky. If I can find a way like this to give back a little more, I want to do it. Plus, I don't want to let them forget me."