BLUE Demons’ latest youth product Daryl Cuff had a basketball season to remember.
A National Cup final at U20 level, selection as Cork captain, a national team call-up, and an upcoming move to the US made it a remarkable campaign for the talented guard.
His breakout year earned him a spot at Feltrim Academy in Florida where he’ll join an ever-growing list of Irish talent playing and studying Stateside.
Cuff, 16, closed out the last calendar year in style as a member of the Blue Demons U20 team, who earned themselves a National Cup semi-final spot against Ballincollig BC in Neptune Stadium.
With Ballincollig beginning to mount a comeback midway through the fourth quarter, Cuff caught a vital offensive rebound before relocating to the right elbow and hitting a tough fadeaway jump shot to halt the Demons’ drought, helping to secure a final bid in Tallaght against UCD Marian.
Cuff shone once again in what was almost a historic comeback versus the Dublin side, proving his worth against guys three years older than him on the biggest stage that Irish underage basketball has to offer.
The 6’ 2” Cuff, the son of Demons veteran Carleton, also earned a call-up to the Demons’ National League squad where he made his debut against Portlaoise Panthers, notching 13 points.
“I felt that my season with Demons went really well. I got the opportunity to play and to train with some great players and be part of some successful squads.”
Experience at the U20 and senior level would inevitably translate when Cuff returned to the U17 grade for the prestigious Billy Kelly Tournament.
A selection in the all-star five was another accolade to add to the collection before Cuff headed to the University of Limerick on Easter Monday as the U17 Cork captain.
Cuff carried his positive momentum into the tournament, breezing through the competition before bypassing Galway by 30 points in a dominant final performance.
A surging development over the course of the season led to a late call-up for Cuff to Paul Kelleher’s U18 national team, just in time to secure a seat on the plane to Cardiff for the Four Nations tournament.
Cuff wore the green jersey in competition for the first time in games against Wales and Scotland. “It felt amazing to make my international debut against Wales because growing up it has always been one of my main goals to play for Ireland. Training regularly with the Irish team has been an amazing experience for me as I’ve been playing with the best players in the country under such a great coaching staff who push me to be a great player and teammate.”