HALL OF FAME: Mauldin was sharpshooter for Comets, Camels

Published 2:55 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

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Darrell Mauldin gravitated toward basketball early on.

“I enjoyed youth league baseball, but at about 12 years old I became interested in basketball,” he said, adding that while many of his friends chose to pursue other interests, his focus remained on hoops.

Darrell Mauldin

“There were a lot of guys I grew up with, and we were the best of friends,” he recalled, “but about the seventh grade their interests turned to minibikes and racing. Mine stayed on basketball.”

And that single-mindedness led the young man from New London to spend countless hours on the basketball court, often alone, where he developed an outstanding shooting touch that vaulted him to a leading role for his North Stanly Comets basketball team, where he earned All-Conference honors his junior and senior seasons, in addition to MVP honors in the 1976 conference tournament (which NSHS won) and a slot in that year’s WNCHSAA post-season all-star game.

Mauldin credits much of his success to his high school coach, the late Joe Kelly (“He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said), his middle school coach, Ronnie Morris, and youth league coaches Johnny Harwood and Lonnie Chandler.

“They taught me a lot about fundamentals, no matter what sport I was playing,” he recalled.

Mauldin’s stellar high school performance caught the attention of Campbell College coach Danny Roberts, who recruited Mauldin to join his Camels squad, which was making the jump from NAIA to NCAA.

“He’s the best pure shooter we’ve ever had at Campbell,” Roberts said in a Raleigh Times story in 1979.

At Campbell, Mauldin became a team leader by his junior year, during which he had his career high scoring game (29 points vs. Pembroke State), and led the NCAA in free throw percentage, canning 92% of his foul shots that season. In addition, he led the Camels in assists both his junior and senior seasons, while averaging 12 points per game in 1978-79 and 15 points per game in 1979-80.

After returning home, Mauldin has been active in community endeavors and served as the head basketball coach of the Comets for three seasons.

Mauldin says parental support was paramount in his development and eventual success.

“My parents were always interested in sports, so that’s where I was introduced to athletics. They always allowed me and my brother Derek to play whatever we wanted to. Both of them would go out and practice with us,” he said.

Sports is also a great training ground for the “real world,” he observed.

“Sports mirror life. In sports you learn to play as a team. You learn to work hard for a particular goal, and you dedicate yourself to achieving that goal … just like when we are finished playing sports, whether it’s your job, your marriage or raising your family.”

Although sports have changed considerably since his playing days, Mauldin still enjoys being around them.

“I really enjoy watching youth and high school sports … those are just raw sports. And I still enjoy college and pro sports, but I just can’t get used to the new interpretations of the rules,” he said. “But, the athletes these days are amazing.”

Mauldin is one of four inductees of the Class of 2024 Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame. He will be honored at the induction event at 6 p.m. June 3 at Pfeiffer University’s Mer-ner Gym. Tickets can be purchased at Starnes-Bramlett Jewelers, Uwharrie Dash, Albemarle Parks and Recreation, Locust City Hall and Oakboro Parks and Recreation.