FROM TIME to time, I bump into somebody on the street and one of the first things he'll tell me is "Man, that freshman guard is going to be something," or some variation.
And it's always from somebody detached, often a West Virginia fan. The name escapes him, but he knows Marshall's DeAndre Kane when he sees him.
That sticks with me.
When you've watched the guy for four months and knew what he did in practice during a sitting-out season, you get awfully used to him. Take him for granted, much like a Toyota starting in the morning.
Furthermore, you start judging those talented players on tougher criteria. You want him going 10-of-14 from the floor every night, hitting every 3-pointer, hacking his way through every screen and never letting his man get free on a cut to the basket.
And God forbid he commits a turnover or miss a free throw. Boy, do I hear the chirping over my shoulder sometimes at a home game when he makes a freshman mistake.
Oh, he's made a few. He got pulled into another double technical last Wednesday at Texas-El Paso. He and Shaquille Johnson were cited on a battery charge in an alleged dispute over cutting line in front of a Huntington bar.
Not a heinous offense, but an unnecessary, nasty distraction.
(Immediate reaction: I've been to more establishments than I care to admit. There has never been one worth standing in line to enter.)
Those are the growin' pains, and you've got to accept 'em. I am reminded of the year I referred to football defensive end Johnathan Goddard, God rest his soul, as the Human Personal Foul. Eventually, he channeled his fury in the proper direction and was honored for it.
Kane already has earned an honor, which we should see this week. Without doubt, he should become the second Marshall player in a row to be named freshman of the year.
The league doesn't lack for decent candidates.
Jordan Clarkson has emerged off the Tulsa bench, scoring 80 points in his last five games. D.J. Newbill of Southern Mississippi is a nice talent, scoring a double-double against the Herd in Hattiesburg.
And four different Memphis Tigers have won the weekly award, including Antonio and Will Barton, point guard Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford. I like Tarik Black better than those four.
But you've seen how many awful games the Tigers have played. Their freshmen often disintegrate in hostile environments, and it seems they've all spent time in coach Josh Pastner's doghouse. As ballyhooed as this class was, none should sniff the freshman honor.
The other candidates just don't carry their team like Kane has done at times, and they're certainly not as versatile. Kane can carry the scoring load, can give you a bushel of assists and plays better-than-average defense in a wide variety of assignments.
"His productivity over 31 games speaks for itself, when you look at his numbers compared to anybody else in the league," said Herd coach Tom Herrion. "But we're not a program built on anybody getting an award, or politicking for an award. Let his play speak for itself, but he's worthy of it, yes."
Shoot, when Johnny Thomas was injured against West Virginia, Kane guarded the power forward at times. (A favorite Kane moment: When he picked up his double technical that game, he did it in a WWE-caliber wrestling match with John Flowers. He wasn't losing, either.)
I see Kane taming his emotions and becoming tougher, more of a leader. He stays on that path, and stays to his junior or senior year, you'll see a big-time warrior reminiscent of ...