• Most famous American in European hoops history a Baylor Bear

    Darryl Middleton

    Darryl Middleton was a star basketball player at Baylor from 1985-88 — an All-American who finished his career third in program history in career scoring. He still ranks among the Bears’ career leaders in points (sixth), rebounds (seventh) and field-goal percentage (eighth), and he was inducted into the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

    After being drafted in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, Middleton was poised for a long career in pro basketball. He just didn’t think it would be in Europe.

    The New York Times ran a lengthy feature on Middleton last month, calling the native New Yorker “one of the most famous American players in European basketball history.” He’s won three Spanish League MVPs and 10 championships, playing across Turkey, Italy, Spain, Greece and Russia. At age 47, he was still coming off the bench in a Spanish league this past fall.

    Middleton’s tips for a young player considering playing in Europe are fascinating, and give a glimpse of what his life has been like for the past quarter century: “Don’t be afraid of the Uzis.” “Don’t get comfortable, but embrace Europe.” “Don’t be a dumb American.”

    Middleton’s plan now, with his playing days approaching an end as he approaches his 50th birthday, revolve around a restaurant in Spain where he is part-owner; he also doubles as cook most nights when not out playing, preparing a mixture of American and Mediterranean recipes.

    Sic ’em, Darryl!

    [Coming off Saturday’s emotional double-overtime win, Baylor men’s basketball has another big game tonight, hosting Oklahoma State on ESPN’s Big Monday. Tip off is 8 p.m. at the Ferrell Center; see you there!]

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