MORGANTOWN -West Virginians love their trucks.
But there's only one truck that's become a household name in the Mountain State: Darryl 'Truck' Bryant.
Ever since he arrived on the West Virginia University campus for the 2008-09 basketball season, Bryant has been a key component of the Mountaineers' success.
His freshman season, he immediately was pressed into action when starting point guard Joe Mazzulla got injured. Bryant not only played in all 35 games that year, but he started 28 at point guard, averaging 9.8 points per game and connecting on 37.7 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts.
Then came the magical 2009-2010 season when WVU won the Big East Tournament and advanced to the Final Four. Bryant played in the first 35 games before suffering a fractured right foot and missing the Elite Eight and Final Four contests. He started in 31 of those games, averaging 9.3 points per game and finishing second on the team in assists with 108. His season high was a 20-point performance against arch-rival Pittsburgh.
No longer a raw, young talent, Bryant now was a veteran player who was a vital part of the Mountaineer program.
Fans who were concerned that his injury might carry over to the 2010-2011 season need not have worried. Bryant not only was back, he was better than ever. He started in all 32 games. He averaged in double figures, scoring at a rate of 11.3 points per game thanks to reaching double figures on 18 different occasions.
Against Big East rival Marquette, he poured in a career-high 25 points. In a key Big East contest vs. Notre Dame, Bryant scored just four first-half points, then exploded for 20 more in the final 20 minutes. He had learned to take over a game when no one else was able to do that.
Bryant reached the 1,000-point plateau his junior season, during a 19-point performance against Clemson.
Bryant, like any senior, has saved his best for last. Heading into Thursday night's game against Pittsburgh, he is averaging 16.8 points per game. He also is second on the team in assists.
Bryant has had his ups and downs, delighting Mountaineer fans when he is on and frustrating them when he can't buy a basket. But his role on this young team is to score, so he keeps shooting because that is what he is supposed to do.
Bryant came to Morgantown as the all-time leading scorer at St. Raymond's High School in the Bronx, N.Y., where he scored 1,399 points. He led St. Raymond's to the championship of the Gatorade Invitational in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and to the city championship game in New York. He was impressive in AAU basketball, leading his team to several titles including the Pittsburgh Jamfest.
As the two seniors on the Mountaineer roster this year, it is up to Bryant and Kevin Jones to bring along a team that is dominated by freshmen. Bryant is a solid student, making the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll at WVU and also being named a Big East Academic All-Star.