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Dario Domingos Discusses Recruitment and his Journey from Angola to the U.S.

By Cody Hopkins, 08/27/21, 10:00AM EDT


Dario Domingos (#23 in Red)

Dario Domingos, a 6'8 forward from New Mexico Junior College, has not played a junior college game yet due to Covid-19, but this hasn't stopped him from improving his game on and off the court. Domingos is a skilled left-handed forward who can shoot the three as well as the mid-range and also score the ball in the paint with his back to the basket. 

Domingos spent last season working on his game and body with the coaching staff at New Mexico JC and waited patiently for an opportunity to play in front of college coaches. That opportunity came in July, and Domingos was prepared for it. He had an excellent performance at the All-American JUCO Showcase - Invitational in Atlanta and rapidly picked up offers and interest from a variety of schools. 

I was able to catch up with Dario and discuss his journey from Angola to the United States, how Covid has impacted his recruitment, and what schools are showing him the most interest leading up to the season. You grew up in Angola and started playing basketball pretty late compared to most.  What led you to basketball, and how was that experience before coming to the US?
Soccer was the first sport that I played, which is the most popular sport in Angola. As I got older I started to grow more and more. I became too big to play soccer. I was 6’3 at age 15 years old. My friends didn’t want to play with me anymore because I was too big. They didn’t want to get hurt. I actually played basketball to lose weight and get in shape. I played for the “Cadets” League (15-16 yrs old). I wasn’t very good. I was overweight. I didn’t know what I was doing.

One day, the head coach of the “Juniors” league (17-18 yrs old) was watching our practice. His name is Coach Gil and he was the first person to see my potential. Coach Gil introduced me to the strength and condition coach for the team. His name was the same as mine, “Coach Dario.”

The first thing he said to me was, “If we have the same name, you can't be trash.” He was really funny but he helped me a lot. He got me into shape using the stationary bike, while the other kids practiced. I finally got in good enough shape to play. I was 16 years old when I began to play my first organized basketball game. I earned a starting spot and we only lost one game that season. We made it to the national tournament for the first time ever. Your mom is 6’0 and legend tells it she was an amazing athlete as well. Tell us about her & what impact she has had on your athletic background?

My mom was a good athlete. When she was 14 years old, she made the A team on the Angolan National Team.  My mom worked two jobs growing up. I saw how hard she worked to help support my family. In the morning, she was a principal at our local high school, and in the afternoon, she was a psychology professor at another school. When did you come to the US, and how was that process for you? 
I came to the United States to attend Quality Education. I was 18 years old. I was nervous and excited to come to play. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t speak any English. We practiced every day and I did skill work with the coaches. I loved it! I was around really good players and built a lot of relationships with my teammates. I wasn’t able to qualify at QEA, that is when I transferred to a prep school in Las Vegas. I didn’t qualify academically to go D1. I arrived at New Mexico Junior College in August of 2020. I learned a lot of things that shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn't trade my journey for anything. How has COVID taking away your first year of college basketball impacted you?
Not having a season has honestly been the best thing for me personally. I am thankful enough to have a great coach that used not having a season as an advantage for me to get better at basketball. If it wasn’t for not having a season, I wouldn’t be where I am today. How has COVID impacted your recruiting?

I was able to train every day when our season was canceled. It was similar to my situation when I was in Angola. I didn’t play to get into shape. My recruitment was kinda slow since I didn’t play all year. I just focused on the process every day. My first college game was at the All-American JUCO Showcase and JA48. I had the chance to play in front of hundreds of college coaches, that’s where my recruitment really took off and I was able to earn many offers. What schools have you heard from since July? Who is recruiting you the hardest? 

There’s been a lot of schools. The ones that are recruiting me the hardest are Texas Arlington, Kent State, Texas Tech, Southern Miss, UTEP, Montana State, Utah Valley, UMBC. There are a lot of schools that are interested but haven’t offered. I am trying to find the best fit.
I would like to take official visits in October. I think the best thing for me is to visit after the Juco Jamborees in Oklahoma City and Dallas. 

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