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"Staying True To His Roots" How Darius Leonard Started Playing for Raleigh's Premier Basketball Team

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

If you go to a Firebirds game this year, you'll see players of all heights, somewhere on the spectrum of Marques Sumner's 5'10" to Desmond Jackson's 6'11". One of the taller players on the team is Darius Leonard, a 6'9" power forward. Not only can Leonard play inside the post, but he can shoot, making him a threat from everywhere on the court.

If you look at the Firebirds roster, there are very few players from North Carolina, and even fewer from Raleigh. However, Leonard is one of two Raleigh native players to play on Raleigh's professional basketball team. This is the story of how Darius Leonard became a Raleigh Firebird.

Credit to Wake Forest Athletics for Picture

Leonard grew up in Raleigh with four siblings, three brothers and a sister. He started high school at Wakefield High School, and finished at Kestrel Heights High School. While playing for the Kestrel Heights varsity basketball team, Leonard was named the 35th best player in North Carolina in the class of 2010, and according to ESPN, the 115th best power forward in the country. During his senior year in 2010, Leonard averaged 16.9 points and 11 rebounds per game while leading Kestrel Heights to a 37-7 record. Leonard was inevitably recruited by many colleges, and at first started his career at Kent State University. From there, he transferred to Campbell University, and finished his collegiate career at Wake Forest.

After a solid college career, Leonard played basketball overseas in Germany. Unfortunately, he suffered from injury, and came back to Raleigh to recover. From there, he find out that Wade Harris was thinking about starting his own professional basketball team in Raleigh. Leonard and Wade go way back, as Leonard would work out at Harris' Raleigh Personal Training Center all throughout high school. During the inaugural season of The Basketball League, Leonard went to play in Kentucky. A year later, Wade would create the Firebirds, and it just made sense for Leonard to play for the team. He's been with them ever since, and made a huge impact in the games he's played this year.

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