Mississippi State was supposed to be the launching point for Romero Osby's promising basketball career.
Out of high school, he had offers from Kentucky and Kansas, among other national powers, but wanted to stay close to home. So the Meridian, Miss., star, considered one of the top forwards in the nation, chose to play just two hours away.
But instead of a local safe haven to sculpt his natural skills, Mississippi State turned into a nightmarish two-year ride where he never got to showcase them.
“Mississippi State was kind of a waste of my time because I didn't really get to where I wanted to,” Osby said. “And I really didn't get an opportunity to show what I could do like I wanted to.”
In 71 games over two seasons, Osby started three, never averaging more than 4.3 points or 2.6 rebounds.
And even worse, Osby's supreme confidence, the thing that made high school players fear him and college coaches want him, was gone.
“Yeah, it was,” he said. “It shattered my confidence a lot.”
For any chance at redirecting his derailed career, Osby needed out of Starkville. And he got a reprieve from Jeff Capel, Oklahoma's coach at the time.
“I think this will be the rebirth of Romero Osby,” Capel said at the time of Osby's transfer. “He was not really able to show a lot of the things he can do in his two years at Mississippi State. We recruited him out of high school and I loved him. I'm excited about the opportunity to coach him.”
Osby arrived in Norman a struggling player, looking to restructure his physical and mental game.
And during what he called possibly his toughest year of basketball, when he could practice but not play, Osby credits Capel for rebuilding his game.
“That one year with Coach, he really pumped a lot of confidence back into me,” Osby said. “It was tough at the time, but sitting out that year was good for me.”
Entering 2011, Osby was finally ready to reward Capel's trust with on-court production. But just when his revamped career was getting ready to relaunch, the guy who had saved it had his thrown into question.