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UCI senior flourishes with Starring role

Guard has matured into leader and stepped up his game to become Anteaters' top scorer.

March 13, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Daman Starring, a senior guard, leads UC Irvine in scoring.
Daman Starring, a senior guard, leads UC Irvine in scoring. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

His teammates call him fossil and at age 24, in his sixth year out of high school, UC Irvine senior Daman Starring might have more life experience than all but a few college basketball players.

That that experience has not always been good, has only helped forge his character and status as a leader for the Anteaters, who open Big West Conference Tournament play Thursday against Hawaii at approximately 8:30 p.m. at Honda Center.

"He has strong belief in himself and strong core values as a person," UCI Coach Russell Turner said of Starring, a second-team All-Big West performer who leads the Anteaters in scoring at 13.3 points per game. "As a competitor, he is one of those guys who has had to struggle to get the most out of his talents."

A 6-foot-3 shooting guard who is both quick and athletic, Starring blends the improvisation of a contortionist with the calculating precision of a craftsman on the court. Having worked hard to hone his jump shot, his smooth delivery has produced a career-best efficiency from three-point range, where he is shooting 41.8%.

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But when defenders charge at him to close out, he transforms into a slithery slasher who can and will use any angle to get his shot off near the rim.

"For this year's team, he has needed to step into more of an assertive scoring role and he has done that," Turner said. "Daman has really raised his profile as someone who wants to be good and he gets a lot of credit for that. It's not easy to do at his age."

Starring talks openly of some childhood hurdles that have contributed to his resolve to be the best man he can be. His father, Stephen Starring, who played six seasons as an NFL receiver, including 5 years for the 1985 Super Bowl runner-up New England Patriots, struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine and has not spoken with his son since before Daman reached his teens.

Starring found himself involved in a controversy as a junior at Sierra Vista High in Las Vegas, when a team hazing incident led to him being accused of sexual assault. He was arrested and expelled from school, but denied all wrongdoing. He was found not guilty of sexual assault, but was convicted of one charge of gross lewdness and one charge of battery.

He maintains his innocence, but said the incident has made him a stronger person.

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