A former pro basketball player who grew up in Castlegar is trying to make it back onto the pro court.
Darren Apels, 35, first started playing basketball as a kid at Twin Rivers Elementary School. When his family moved to Vernon, he continued with basketball, playing in the 1997 BC High School Boys’ Basketball Association’s AAA tournament and scoring 111 points in four games. He went immediately from high school to the European league where he played for Science City Jena, and then, as he puts it, he started doing the reverse of what players normally do.
“I actually did the reverse.… I went to college for two years in New York and then from there, I stayed down there for a bit and played. Then I came back to Canada and I wanted to play a season with my brother, so I ended up moving to Kelowna,” explains Apels.
When he returned to Canada, Apels says he found that the game was less physical than it had been in the states.
“I like to call it porcelain basketball — like if you touch someone, you get a foul,” says Apels.
His more aggressive playing style didn’t pan out and ultimately put an end to his basketball career. He was banned from Canadian college basketball after starting a fight with the UBC Thunderbirds. “My brother ended up just going up for a lay up and some guy ended up knocking him out on the court in the game, so I ended up flipping out and fighting like the whole team,” Apels explains.
And until recently that was the end of Apels’ involvement in basketball. He started a career in demolition and traveled around the country for work. Then last year he got back into the game and started teaching basketball, offering one-hour sessions for male and female players of any age. This year, his plan is to try out for the NBA’s Development League, with the hope of playing at least one more year of pro ball.
“I just want to play at least one more season — one more, two more seasons — and then basically just after that open up a facility for kids so that they can come in and play ball.”
Apels hopes he can try out for the D-League sometime in August.
This is a corrected story. A previous version stated Apels was trying out for the NBBL, the North of the Border Basketball League.