Donte Poole was half of a credit from being a Colorado State Ram instead of part of Murray State's dynamic backcourt.
He spent a summer in Fort Collins and loved the promise Rams coach Tim Miles gave of allowing him to take any shot he wanted. But when Poole got his grades, he says he ended up half a credit in math short of qualifying.
Now he's part two of the one-two punch of the Racers' backcourt along with Isaiah Canaan and part of a team that's been called the mid-major darling this year.
After coming up short academically Poole, who grew up in Las Vegas decided to take the prep school route in suburban Atlanta near family and reopened his recruitment.
Had he qualified at Colorado State, Poole said, ''Oh yeah, I'd still be there.''
The Rams' loss has been the Racers' gain.
Poole will start for sixth-seeded Murray State (30-1) against Colorado State (20-11) on Thursday afternoon in the West region. None of the current 11th-seeded Rams know Poole well because of their youth, but they recognize on tape how dangerous the shooting guard who is averaging 14.2 points is.
''When I heard his name I thought for a second, `Wait a second, I've heard that name before,''' Rams guard Jesse Carr said. ''Pretty crazy. And watching film, it'd be nice to have him here, honestly.
''We're looking forward to going at him.''
The Rams are making their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2003 and haven't advanced past their opening game in 22 years. They've flown across the country and will be at a decided disadvantage playing a Bluegrass team in its home state - even if most of the fans will be clad in Kentucky's royal blue instead of Murray State's navy shade.
''We've kind of been looked at as kind of an underdog all year long,'' said guard Wes Eikmeier, who leads the Rams with 15.6 points per game. ''I know that the gym's probably not going to be in our favor'' Thursday.