Buchanan commits to V-Tech, leaves legacy

Marco Squitieri

Senior forward Darren Buchanan announced his commitment to Virginia Tech on March 5.

Buchanan’s long list of accolades make him arguably one of the greatest basketball players in Wilson history. 

He burst on the scene in his freshman year, making the varsity team immediately. Despite being surrounded by upperclassmen receiving Division 1 offers, Buchanan was still able to carve out playing time for himself. 

“When I got here, it wasn’t all peaches and cream,” he said. “I had my ups and downs as a freshman, but the school community welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I could accomplish what I wanted to here at Wilson.” 

During Buchanan’s sophomore year, he became a superstar. He won DCIAA player of the year and guided the Tigers to the DCSAA state championship game, delivering an earth-shattering posterizing dunk that he recounts as one of his favorite memories of playing as a Tiger. 

Buchanan’s dynamic season put him on the radar of college coaches, but when COVID closed school, halting his high school basketball career, the recruitment process became much more complicated. 

His junior season at Wilson was canceled, robbing him of the opportunity to showcase his expanding skillset. Luckily for Buchanan, he was able to continue playing on his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team: Team Durant. Still, he was unable to travel to certain tournaments and meet with college coaches in person. 

Despite this, Buchanan’s dedication did not falter and he continued to grind away. “I had to sacrifice a lot to get to the point I’m at,” he said. 

Buchanan’s senior season at Wilson was phenomenal. He again won DCIAA player of the year and was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year for DC, becoming the first Wilson basketball player to win the award. 

These accolades are important to Buchanan, however he emphasized that the success of the team was his priority first and foremost. “I wasn’t focusing on a personal goal [entering the season]” he said. “I knew winning would bring all the personal stuff.” 

When it came time for him to make his college decision, Buchanan’s relationship with the coaching staff at Virginia Tech played a large role in his choice. “I definitely felt a strong connection with all the coaches on the staff,” he said. 

Specifically, Buchanan mentioned his relationship with assistant coach Mike Jones, who coached at nearby DeMatha Catholic High School prior to Virginia Tech. “I’ve known him since my ninth-grade year,” Buchanan explained.  He said that Tech “felt like home” when he first visited and emphasized that playing in arguably the best college basketball conference, the ACC, was important to him. In the end, Buchanan said it came down to Virginia Tech, Georgetown, and Rutgers. 

While Virginia Tech prevailed as Buchanan’s future home, the love he has for his current home knows no bounds. “I couldn’t ask to go to a better high school honestly,” he said. 

When Buchanan entered Wilson, the basketball program was on the rise, and he saw this as his chance to make his mark. “I felt like I could be that one guy who could change the narrative of basketball players going to private schools and not taking advantage of the public school side,” Buchanan explained. “I felt like I could be that player to stop that.”

While the magic Buchanan produces on the court is nothing short of remarkable, it is arguably eclipsed by the tremendous character he exhibits off of it. “He’s nice, he’s respectful, he’s a terrific ambassador for both the Wilson Tigers and the DMV overall,” Chad Ricardo, a local journalist who has covered DMV sports for over a decade, said. 

Ricardo also emphasized the commitment to his teammates he witnessed from Buchanan in the state championship game while suffering through a groin injury. “A lot of guys would have shut it down,” Ricardo said. “But he went out there, and he’s so smart, he was still effective.” 

As Buchanan prepares for the next chapter in his basketball career, he leaves behind a legacy at Jackson-Reed. His play on the court and accomplishments in a high school career marred by a pandemic speak for themselves, and anyone who has interacted with him will speak to the tremendous man he is. “He has the game of a star and the heart of a role player,” Ricardo said. In the end, Darren Buchanan gave his heart and soul to Jackson-Reed, and in doing so cemented his status as arguably one of the greatest student-athletes in school history. •