Scott Day, the VCU associate athletics director for communications, calls me a lot. I have questions, and he is the guy with the answers. Obviously, every now and again we dive outside specific information sharing and swap stories of what's interesting around college basketball, and the Ram Nation.
Two phone calls this year are different from the rest.
In mid-January, Scott called around 10:30pm, after the ESPN: the Magazine photographers had left. They were here to conduct the photoshoot for that article, and they had asked for the five starters and Briante Weber. As the photographers were finishing up individual shots, Scott related that he and Darius were sitting alone on the bench.
"Did you enjoy it?" asked Day.
Without hesitation nor forethought, Theus's response was "yeah it was fun, but I just wish it could've been the whole team. We're nothing without everyone together."
Fast-forward to Saturday evening, just after the semifinals win over UMass. Day called late that night to relate another story.
CBS wanted to get some photographs and video of the team. It was to assemble those shots and video you see on television as the network cuts out to commercials, and when it comes back and surrounds game statistics and such with players. They are the photos and video where the players are walking through smoke or striking a pose. The producers asked for the five starters for their shots.
As they were assembling the team, coaches, and agenda, Theus pulled Day aside:
"Scott, it's all of us or none of us."
So the call goes out to get everyone out of the locker room, into their black uniforms, and upstairs to the photo shoot. You can imagine the havoc, but Theus won't budge. Everyone.
The shoot begins, and with 13 players as opposed to five, inevitably things are dragging a bit. The producers begin picking up the pace and pressure to finish up so everyone can get out of there. But Theus again won't budge.
You see, it was important to Theus that CBS include Torey Burston–the VCU walk on who gives effort every day alongside the scholarship athletes–in the individual shots. The implication was clear. It was all of them or none of them.
Theus wanted to make sure that every single player who puts on a VCU uniform and gives the spirit that Shaka Smart talks about from the bench was part of this moment. To Theus, it was about the team, not scholarship status.
There's talk and there's action. And there's the feeling of pride when a 22-year old kid humbles you. That's what Darius Theus has become–a leader.