Jake Darby's obsession doesn't spread to other parts of his life.
His apartment isn't meticulous. He doesn't freak out if he thinks he'll miss the previews before a movie. He doesn't have to color-coordinate his closet.
It's just this one thing.
"I'm actually kind of an unorganized person when it comes to everything else," said Darby, a sophomore guard for Newman. "It's just that when it comes to basketball...."
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It's just that when it comes to basketball, Darby is obsessed.
"I've never had a kid who has worked as hard as Jake when it comes to his routine, to going in the gym and making himself better," Newman coach Mark Potter said. "The only thing I could compare it to would be Jackie Stiles and the stories you hear about how much she would shoot."
Darby's work ethic propelled him to co-freshman of the year honors and an honorable mention all-league nod in the Heartland Conference last season, as the 6-foot Olathe East product averaged 11.2 points and 3.4 assists.
And his routine — 300 to 400 shots after class in the morning, and before practice — was actually the cause for some consternation between player and coach last season.
"There was a point where we went on the road and I had to pull him aside because he was getting a little frustrated," Potter said. "He was so ingrained with the way he does things that it was hard for him to taper back a bit. I think he learned a lot."
Point blank: Darby was wearing himself out and it was showing in games.
"The lesson was that maybe it was OK to cut it back to 100 or 200 shots on game day," Darby said, smiling. "Maybe the way I was doing things was pushing it a little too far."
Newman, picked to finish fifth in the Heartland this season, brought in a more-than-worthy backcourt mate for Darby in 6-foot-2 junior college transfer Chip Steven, a Derby product and an all-Jayhawk West selection from Barton County.
"I love the way Chip plays," Darby said. "I already know he's a great shooter so that lets me do some different things as far as driving to the hole and being able to kick it back out."
In the frontcourt, Newman must replace 6-foot-10 Ryan Bradley, a two-time all-conference pick. Forward Jaray Mathews returns, however, after averaging 12 points and 8.4 rebounds on the way to second-team all-conference honors last year.
Mathews' numbers jumped to 13.2 and 9.5 in league play.
"I think, just from the way we practice, we're going to be more of an up-tempo team this year," Mathews said. "We've got more depth at each position and we've got a lot more guys like Jake, guys that are gym rats."