FULTON, Mo. (WJMN) – You may have heard the saying, ‘Your house is as strong as the foundation it’s built upon.’
For the William Woods University Men’s Basketball team, a former Ishpeming star has become a pillar of their program.
For six years, Charles Belt spent time on Northern Michigan’s coaching staff under Bill Sall, before getting an opportunity to become head coach at William Woods University. Before leaving for his new gig, Belt looked to lock in his first recruit. He would have to pry him from the program he was leaving.
“I’ll never forget, I was sitting in the office talking to coach Sall, you know, he and I have a great, great, relationship. I’m putting things together and he’s still kind of mentoring and I look and say, ‘Hey, I got to get going I have a home visit.’ He’s like, ‘Who are you recruiting up here?’ Like, ‘You have a home visit?’ I’m like yeah right down the road in Ishpeming. He said, ‘You son of a gun you’re going to take Yohe with you aren’t you?’ I said, ‘I hope so.’
Darius Yohe was a raw 6’9′ forward from Ishpeming with unlimited potential. Belt felt he would be a perfect fit at William Woods.
“When I got the job, he was actually the first home visit I did as a head coach. So I went down, me, him, and his mother sat down and we talked. I didn’t know much about William Woods so I wasn’t pitching William Woods, I was pitching trust me, trust the process, let me be the coach for you to get you to where you want to go in basketball and in life and I was blessed for him and his mom to say yes,” said Belt.
“He was the only reason why I went because I didn’t really, like, have a connection with coach Sall. I had more of a connection with coach Belt because coach Belt knew my mom more than any of the other coaches. It was going to be coach Belt no matter what. It was either I was going to go to William Woods or I was going to go nowhere,” said Yohe.
Belt and Yohe arrived on campus in 2019. It took Yohe some time to adjust to college on and off the court.
“His first game he actually checks into the game. He got four fouls in 30 seconds. I mean the speed was just ridiculous and our coach was like, ‘Coach you going to get him out?’ and I said, ‘No, let him foul out. Let him learn, let him learn, foul him out. He’ll set the Guinness record for fastest foul out in college basketball,'” said Belt.
“From freshman year, I’ll have to admit that I got bullied, I really got bullied,” added Yohe.
Fast forward a year and a half later and Yohe has blossomed into one of the best players in their conference.
“Ultimately his progression has been his desire to be the best player he can be. He wants to be really good. He wants the opportunity to play this sport for as long as his body is going to allow him, even after college. He studies the game, he understands things and he’s extremely coachable. When you have those components with the work ethic and you play hard, you have a chance to be a good player,” said Belt.
Yohe became the single-season block leader as a freshman and became the all-time leading shot-blocker this season as a Sophomore.
“When you’re a coach you’re hoping to build a certain culture. To see his teammates who are more estate, and of course, he can’t celebrate in the middle of the play because the play is going on, but the ball goes dead out of bounds and you can see it and everybody, my assistants, Terry, Zak, are going crazy we’re all going crazy. Mike Cretens was with us then still and it was just a great moment,” said Belt.
“Literally, as soon as I broke it, everything was just numb. I was just, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t really control my emotions after that,” said Yohe.
Belt says the sky is the limit for Yohe.
“When it’s all said and done, he will be the all-time leading shot blocker, the all-time leading rebounded, has a chance at the highest free throw percentage, he’s going to re-write the record books here at Woods and it’s going to be special given where we both kind of came from six years ago,” said Belt.
“I’m striving to be the best. My goal is to play overseas. I just want to do what I told my mom I was going to do. I told my mom and I told my brother Dondre that I want to go overseas and Dondre just says ‘Oh, I’ll meet you overseas.’ because he wants to play overseas as well,” said Yohe.
“He was the first recruit. What we’ve built here, he was piece one and I’m very happy so far with how it’s gone,” concluded Belt.