Hamilton, N.Y. -- He did not play basketball until he was nearly 16, and only then with the intention of doing it for a club team back home on Union Island in the Grenadines. Maybe, if his body filled out and his game improved, he could play for the national team of that tiny Caribbean country.
But then Adonal Foyle's simple life became a lot more complex: He came to the United States, attended two high schools in three years, lived with two families in disparate settings and became one of the top recruits in America.
"It more than amazes me," Foyle said of his three-year adventure that ultimately led him here, to Colgate University. "It's not often that a person comes from not playing any basketball to becoming one of the top players in a country known for basketball. Sometimes it's very difficult to grasp. Sometimes it seems unreal."
The same things were said about Foyle's choice of college. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound center passed up chances to play for some of the country's perennial powers, including Duke and Syracuse, and picked a school that hasn't produced an NBA star in more than 40 years.
But what was called "unprecedented . . . the biggest coup in recruiting history" by one nationally known recruiting analyst and compared by a local columnist to "Sinatra singing in a Moose Lodge in Iowa" made perfect sense to those who know this 19-year-old with the warm smile and laughing eyes.
"Once you get to know Adonal and see the way he does things, you're not surprised," said Colgate coach Jack Bruen. "He doesn't think like an American kid. He's not caught up in the number of people in the stands, or by how many times a team is on television. He likes doing things where he's comfortable. He likes doing things at his own pace."
And there is certainly a sense that Foyle is comfortable in this bucolic village, where he has lived since transferring from a Catholic high school outside Philadelphia after his sophomore year.
Foyle was brought to this upstate New York town by Jay and Joan Mandle, two Colgate professors who had met him while they were doing research on Union Island in 1991. It is decidedly colder in temperature, but Foyle feels comfortable being in the middle of nowhere.
"There are a lot of things that remind me of home," said Foyle, who was raised by his grandparents on Canouan Island without electricity or running water or, for that matter, basketball. "It's not densely populated. You can still see the sky at night.
"It feels like home, definitely in the summer, not in the winter. I just wear a lot of clothes. I'm constantly putting on more clothes. I never quite get used to seeing stuff falling from the sky and staying there on the ground for days."
In truth, Foyle fell out of the sky for Bruen. He was manna from heaven to a program that had struggled back to respectability and came close last season to getting into the NCAA tournament, losing by two points to Navy in the Patriot League tournament final.
Though the Red Raiders are 0-5 going into tonight's 8 p.m. game against 11th-ranked Maryland in College Park, Foyle's indoctrination into college basketball has been the stuff -- or stuffs -- of legend. After starting quietly his first two games, Foyle has made plenty of noise.
If his 15 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots at Syracuse weren't enough to convince the skeptics, then try these numbers Foyle put up against Texas Southern in the consolation game of a tournament last weekend at the University of Montana: 32 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks.
"I didn't know what I had done until my dad told me that I had broken four records," Foyle said, referring to Jay Mandle, who along with his wife have become the player's legal guardians. "I was walking around so mad because we lost. But I think it confirmed that, even coming from a small high school, I can compete at this level."
Foyle's records were only for Colgate freshmen, but his 25 rebounds were one short of a record set in the 1950s. Bruen, a former high school and college coach in the Washington, D.C., area, says Foyle has a chance to become one of the best big men in the country -- this year.
"I think he could lead the country in rebounding and blocked shots," Bruen said of Foyle, who's averaging 13.6 rebounds and 5.4 blocks to go along with 15.2 points.
Bruen smiles at how Foyle wound up here: From the first time he was told about "the big guy playing at lunchtime hoops," to the conversations he had with the Mandles about which schools Foyle should consider, to Foyle picking Colgate.
"The whole thing's kind of funny," said Bruen. "The Mandles wanted to come in and talk about different schools. We approached it just like if my brother had a son who wanted some advice. He was a great athlete with great size and was a serious student."
After giving Foyle a list of eight schools, which increased to 10 when the player added Wisconsin and Kansas, Bruen was caught by surprise when Foyle asked, "What about Colgate?"