by Skip Tate
The morning is already halfway done by the time David West strolls out of his Manor House apartment and heads off to class. As he works his way toward Alter Hall, the residential mall fills in around him, becoming more and more alive with students rushing around as fast as their backpack-burdened bodies will carry them. West is in no hurry, though. For two years the starting center on the men's basketball team listened to former coach Skip Prosser harp about time management. "If you can't be on time, be early," Prosser would say. The message sank in; he's early.
As he arrives in the class, he heads straight for the back corner. The last row is often the hiding place of the academically challenged, but that's not why West is there. Although many athletes clamor for center stage anywhere there's a crowd, West's inclination is to shy away from the spotlight. As class begins, he sits quietly, paying attention but letting others speak out and get the glory for their knowledge.
It's hard not to notice West, though. At 6-foot-9, he stands--or, in this case, sits--head and shoulders above most of his fellow students. But he's also hard to overlook because in the last two years he's become an increasingly familiar presence, not just on campus, but in the country. Since arriving on campus two seasons ago, West has established himself as one of the nation's premier basketball players. He's now showing up on the pages of magazines, newspapers and television sets nationwide. He's a Wooden and Naismith college player of the year candidate, an Associated Press preseason All-American and the Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year. He's been featured in Sports Illustrated, SLAM and ESPN magazines. Most recently, he was pictured in Playboy as part of that publication's All-American team lineup. And all of the media attention makes it hard for West not to have strangers pointing at him while he walks down the mall, or stare at him while he eats or be the focal point of a classroom discussion. It's uncomfortable, and the seat in the back row helps.
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