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YVC men's basketball player drives around a defender

3 players from men’s program earn NWAC honors

Yakima Valley College’s Javonte Darrett proved himself one of the most complete players in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) during the 2023-24 season, earning East Region Player of the Year honors.

The sophomore tallied per game averages of 24.4 points (No. 2 in the NWAC), 9.9 rebounds (No. 7) and 3.9 assists (tied for No. 12) while shooting 54% from the field. Darrett also ranked No. 15 in the conference with 1.8 steals per game and tied for No. 19 with 0.9 blocks per game.

“Receiving Player of the Year felt amazing,” said Darrett. “All the hard work and hours put in, paid off.” 

Darrett also noted how his teammates were essential to his success during the season. 

“Pushing me in practice is what I’m really appreciative of,” he said. “Creating such a bond through just competing in everything we did and the trust they had for me on the court. I thank these guys for getting me better. My brothers.” 

Yaks men's basketball player prepares for dunk
TOP: Javonte Darrett drives around a Columbia Basin College defender during a January game at Sherar Gymnasium. ABOVE: Darrett rises for a a dunk versus Walla Walla Community College in January.

Head Coach London Wilson said Darrett’s polished game and physical tools combined to make him an impossible matchup for opponents.

“He’s like the old man at the pickup game — always under control, knows exactly where everyone is at and plays one step ahead of everyone else,” said Wilson. “Off the court, he spearheaded our team temperament and team chemistry.”

In consecutive weeks in late January and early February, Darrett earned NWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honors in the midst of program-record 11 straight wins before the team was forced to forfeit those games due to the use of an ineligible player.

Yaks men's basketball players sets up for a 3 point shot
David Tinner sets for a 3-point shot versus Columbia Basin College.

Also securing conference honors were freshman guard Claysen Delp, who earned NWAC East All-Region second-team honors, and sophomore guard David Tinner, who made the all-defensive team. Delp averaged 16.2 points and 3.3 assists per game in his first season with the Yaks. Tinner averaged 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.9 steals for the season.

Wilson called Tinner the unsung hero of this year’s team, who’s offensive rebounding and defensive effort the entire length of the court helped the Yaks become one of the top defenses in the conference along with its dynamic offense.

“Playing your role and doing what is asked of you makes you more special than what stats show up on paper,” Wilson said. “He did all the little things to help us win.”

Yaks men's basketball player drives past defender
Claysen Delp drives to the hoop during a fast break against Treasure Valley Community College during a February game.

Delp’s accolade was even more impressive in light of the fact that the Zillah High School graduate was returning to basketball after a year away from the sport while walking onto the University of Montana football team.

“Clay was still in football mode so he started the year off a little behind,” Wilson said. “By the second half of conference [play] came around Clay was leading us in 3-point percentage and second in scoring.”

Story by Dustin Wunderlich, director of community relations. Photos by Dustin Wunderlich and Ross Courtney.