The next wave of French players is loaded with talent and potential. These players have a chance to usher in a new era of basketball which will allow more young up and coming prospects to play in first division France.
I was recently given the opportunity to chat and catch up with one of the many bright spots of the french prospects, Darel Poirier. A 6'10 athletic big from Paris, Darel has taken a path to launch his professional career that's not considered an option among his peers. But it was a decision that has definitely put him on track for success. Darel was gracious enough to convers about the past, present, and future of his basketball journey.
Thank you Darel for setting aside some time in your day to share a bit about who you are, where you are from, your basketball journey, and your immediate and long-term future goals/objectives.
Darel: Thank you first for interviewing me. I do not do this much but I am happy to do it.
First off it has been a tough period for the world during the pandemic (COVID-19), what have you been doing during the confinement and would you like to share some words of encouragement to the people of France and the rest of the world?
Darel: During the confinement I have not been doing much because I am injured but spending time with my family has been good, understanding it has been a tough period for everyone. Although it’s been a really bad world crisis I have tried to focus on the good parts, being able to be in one place reflecting on myself and time with family.
So where you are you from, family origins:
Darel: I am born in Grigny (91), suburb in Paris and my origins is French West Indies (Guadeloupe and Martinique)
How was growing up in Paris and what is a great memory about your childhood that you do not mind sharing?
Darel: Growing up in Paris was challenging. But a good memory from my childhood is I had a good friend that we started playing futbol (soccer) at the same time and we were always together. We were born in the same hospital a week apart. And we went to the same school growing up. This is a memory I will never forget, and it is actually a great story to tell.
Did you play another sport besides basketball?
Darel: So obviously I played soccer. I also tried karate and tennis. Basketball was the last sport I tried.
When did you get your first basketball, and when did your start playing (in club or playground)?
Darel: I got my first basketball at 7 but I played soccer with it. I really started playing basketball at the age of 12 in a playground for two years before joining the club in Alfortville (Paris suburbs).
Who did you first look up to when your started playing?
Darel: I started looking up to another teammate who I tried to copy during my first season of basketball. He was bouncy (athletic) and could shoot. It really helped me improve quickly over that year.
Did you get to watch professional European or NBA games growing up and who was your favorite NBA or European player?
Darel: No, I did not get to watch live games, but I watched YouTube highlights of Kobe Bryant, and Amar’e Stoudemire the most. I also watched a bit of Kevin Garnett, but I have a lot of admiration for Kobe Bryant.
At what age were you when you knew playing basketball professionally was your objective?
Darel: I wanted to play professional sports the moment I started playing sports whether it was futbol (soccer) or basketball.
What drives this hunger or motivation?
Darel: My past (upbringing) was not easy. I put all my energy and effort into basketball to be able to provide a better future for myself and my family - mom, younger sisters (3) and brother (1).
What is/are great memories you have from amateur years of basketball?
Darel: Friendships of teammates!
You were able to represent France during international competition on the youth level, how many categories did you play and what memory or lesson you took away from the experience?
Darel: I played U18 and U20. My lesson I took away is if you are playing your hardest and giving all your energy something good will happen. A good memory for me although I played while injured, we were able to win bronze in the 2017 U20 European championship in Crete Greece.
If you had to pick one, yes just one, which coach has had a big impact on your young career thus far?
Darel: Sylvain Delorme in Cholet Basketball Club.
Describe what type of player you are? What is your best playing quality?
Darel: I am a player that will always try to improve, and my best quality is never giving up.
You were invited to the 2018 summer G league invitational in Chicago, Illinois (USA), was that your first experience of basketball in the USA, how was that?
Darel: It was a special summer for me, 2018. I did not except to participate in the invitational, but I just played my game. I did not realize the impact it would have until later.
Later that year were drafted in the NBA G League Draft in 2018 to the Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers) and later acquired by the Capital City Go Go (Washington Wizards), this was one year before your draft eligibility. What was the decision behind taking this route?
Darel: I just wanted to put myself in the best opportunity for my future.
How was the overall experience with the Capital City Go Go in the 2018-19? What was the most challenging part of playing outside of France for the first time?
Darel: Playing with the Go Go was one of the best basketball experiences of my life. It was not as challenging because I was happy to be there and competing everyday during that season.
What did you take away from that expirence?
Darel: The overall mentality
What was some of the non-related basketball activities you enjoy during downtime in the (USA)?
Darel: The resturants, bowling, but I liked relaxing at home.
What is your favorite genre of music, and who is your favorite song or Artist at the moment?
Darel: I like R&B and my favorite artist is “After the Party”
You went undrafted the following season in 2019 and ended up playing for the Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls), what was your goals during the season to evolve your game to the next step?
Darel: I was trying to have a good season, continuing to show I could compete at a high level. Not being drafted had no impact on my objectives or goals.
In your second season in the G League, did you feel more comfortable? And how was the competition level?
Darel: I was more confident because I was able to perform the season before with the Go Go. The competition level was still high with everyone competing every day.
Unfortunately, your season was cut short due to injury, what was the exact injury, and did it require surgery to repair?
Darel: I was born with extra bones in my hips and I had to shave the bones on the right and left side. I had the successful surgery in January.
What was the rehabilitation process and how long is it for?
Darel: I am starting real rehabilitation now since the confinement restrictions have been lifted.
Your journey thus far is certainly the road less travelled by young French players, what is the biggest take away and lessons learned?
Darel: My biggest take away is to always be confinedent in the choices I have made, and I am now more focused on my career as a professional
How has this journey allowed you to grow and mature, and what advice would you tell the younger Darel before taking the journey?
Darel: I have been able to remove distractions and focus on what is important in my life. My advice to my younger self is do not get caught up in the negative and always remain positive.
What are your short-term playing goals for the moment? And what would you like to accomplish long term?
Darel: Coming back from injury and playing a full healthy season. Winning a championship for the team I play for this season because I have not accomplished that yet professionally.
If you can sum up in one phrase who is Darel Poirier, what would you say?
Darel: The guy that was not supposed to be here.
Once again Darel, thank you for answering these questions giving us a small glimpse into your life and basketball journey. And all the best to you in the upcoming season.
Darel: Thank you, no problem. I was happy to do so.