Boise State is commonly known as a football school, but Derrick Marks went a long way toward changing that perception last year. Despite a season-ending injury to his fellow senior Anthony Drmic, Marks helped his team win the 1st Mountain West regular season title in school history, then almost single-handedly beat Dayton on its home court in the NCAA tourney before coming up one point short. CHD’s Jon Teitel recently got to chat with Marks about overcoming injuries and finishing his career as the conference POY.
You grew up in Illinois: how did you end up at Boise State? I came here on a visit when College Game Day was here for a football game against Oregon State, and the atmosphere here was great.
You appeared in each of your team’s 30 games as a freshman and scored 9.4 points per contest: how were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? At that point I was just focused on playing hard and doing whatever the team needed me to do.
As a sophomore you led the conference with 1.8 SPG: what is the key to playing great defense? I have long arms for a guard and try to use that to my advantage. I am good at picking off passes after trying to time it and also try to strip people when they go to the rack. It is about having the mindset of not letting your man score on you.
In November 2013 you scored a career-high 39 points against Idaho while making a school-record 21 (out of 23) free throws, including 13 in the final three minutes: how on earth were you able to get to the line so often? I just adjusted to the way the game was being played. The refs were calling a lot of small-contact fouls and I am a good free throw shooter, so I held onto the ball and let them foul my big body, then stepped up to the line and took care of my business.
In the spring of 2014 you played in a Special Olympics charity game and tore your meniscus: how bad was the injury, and how were you able to work your way back onto the court? It was tough to deal with: I could never picture myself not playing the sport I loved so much. When it was taken away from me in five seconds after working hard my entire life it was hard for me to grasp what had happened.
Your team’s leading scorer Anthony Drmic missed most of the past year with back and ankle problems: did you feel extra pressure to be more of a scorer? I did not feel any pressure: I just went out there and did what I have always done. I have been a good scorer for all four years. If the defense only has to worry about 1 player then it makes it a little tougher, but we used the Spurs’ concept. They do not care who scores the most: they just try to make the right plays on offense and never have a lapse on defense. You do not see a lot of teamwork these days: it is not valued the way it should be.
You finished last season by being named All-American/conference POY: what did it mean to you to win such outstanding honors? At the start of the year my goal was to win those awards, but I knew it would never happen unless I drove my team to win. I could not ask anything more from my teammates as their captain: they came to practice with the right attitude and worked hard.
You finished your career with 1912 points, which ranks #4 in conference history: what is your secret for being a great scorer? There is no secret: I just spend a lot of time on my craft. If you want to be great God will not just put the answer in your hands: you have to work for it.
After helping lead your team to its 1st Mountain West regular season title in school history, you scored 23 PTS but missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer in a 1-point loss to Dayton in the NCAA tourney: how big a deal was it to win the title, and how much of a home court advantage did the Flyers have at UD Arena? It was great to win the title. We have meetings at the start of every year, and when the coaches asked us our goal we all said that we wanted to win a conference championship. It was a home game for Dayton but that is not why we lost.
Where do you expect to be playing basketball in the fall, and what do you hope to do in the future after your basketball career is over? I expect to be playing somewhere in the US. After I am done with basketball I hope to find a wife.