About 2 1/2 years ago, two best friends walked into a gym where the Oklahoma City Storm was practicing.
High school dropouts before they were sophomores, the boys had heard the homeschool program could offer them a fresh start in school and in basketball.
Fast forward to the present.
One of the boys just finished a year-long prison term. The other is The Oklahoman’s Super 5 Player of the Year.
Meet Chauncey Collins, the boy who stepped off the path to a destructive life, and now has a Division I college scholarship waiting for him at TCU.
‘It was all about Chauncey’
As a freshman at Millwood, Collins began to realize that there were hardly any consequences for his actions.
He didn’t listen to anyone at home. If problems arose at school, he just didn’t go.
“I was 15, thought I knew everything,” Collins said. “I experienced getting out into the world on my own. My grandma had my other siblings, so it was tough on her. She couldn’t really chase me. So I dropped out of school and did my own thing.
“It was hard, but I was having fun at the time, because I could do whatever I wanted. I felt that freedom. I wasn’t goin’ to school. Teachers couldn’t tell me anything. If I get in trouble, so what? I knew I didn’t have any consequences.”
Some of the people Collins was running with back then have gone to jail for drugs, burglary, and murder. And at the time, there appeared to be no obstacles keeping Collins off the same path.
Collins had no plans to return to school for his sophomore year. But that summer, he and his friend were in a gym looking for a pickup game when they ran into Allonzo Trier, who was a freshman for the Storm at the time.
Trier encouraged them to meet with Storm coach Kurt Talbott.
“Chauncey was this kid who had no guidelines in his life,” Talbott said. “He was gonna live his life, do what he wanted to do, and nobody could tell him what to do.
“It was all about Chauncey.”
Talbott offered him the opportunity to be part of the basketball program, but he immediately installed some barriers for Collins’ life.
Do what you’re told. Keep up with your school work. Stay out of trouble.
As for basketball, Collins was restricted to junior-varsity games as a sophomore.
“After I met Kurt, about a week later, I was staying at his house,” Collins said. “He said you gotta do school, gotta listen. And once I started doing that, it’s been nothing but blessings.”
Blessings, yes. Easy? Not at all.
“It’s been like a crash course in growing up,” Talbott said. “All the growing up a kid does in junior high and the first year of high school, he missed out on that, and we’re still dealing with some of those things now.
“There are mistakes, but he understands accountability now and he accepts it more. But it’s still a work in progress.”