Davidson's Curry a humble star
The scene at Davidson's Belk Arena this past Saturday afternoon was a familiar one. Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats had just had their way with that day's opponent. Afterward, another familiar scene: kids waiting near the locker room to get autographs. Eight year-old Johnson Krajewski says Stephen Curry is his favorite player but not because of his jump shot or ball handling skills. For this young fan, it's something else. "I like him 'cause he goes to our church," Krajewski says. Curry has become the epitome of a big fish in a small pond. While his fame has landed him on the late night talk shows and the covers of numerous magazines, at Davidson he's one of 1,700 students. "I don't do anything differently," Curry says. "I handle myself the same way. And people are kind of surprised when I guess they can approach me and I'm still a guy they can talk to. I think nothing has changed since the tournament." Curry's poise and knack for making circus shots fueled Davidson's shocking run into the NCAA's Elite Eight last March. The tournament run endeared Curry and Davidson to fans all over the country. These days, Curry's so big he's the Sporting News' 2008 College Athlete of the year. NBA superstar LeBron James even attended a game just to see Curry. And when Davidson plays on TV, it's often a Curry love fest. "Here come the WildcatsCurry, stops, pops, TWO! The quickest jump shot release in America - Stephen Curry!" It's a far cry from three years ago when Curry was a short and skinny high school player coming out of Charlotte Christian. He wanted to play at a big school but the big schools didn't want him. But that was just fine with Davidson Coach Bob McKillop. "I never took a risk with Steph Curry," McKillop says. "I've known him since he was 10 years old. I know the family that he comes from. It was never a risk. His presence in our program, whether he scores a point or doesn't score a point, was going to have a significant impact because of the kind of person he is." Those who know Curry best say he's grounded because of the way he was raised by his parents. His father Dell played 16 years in the NBA and his mom was a volleyball standout at Virginia Tech. But a higher priority than athletics is their faith. Stephen even plays with a Bible verse written on his shoes. The influence of his faith is obvious. "This game is a blessing," Curry says. "And, we're all given gifts to play it and be able to come to schoolwith scholarship and play basketball for our lives now, pretty much for four years. It's really, definitely a blessing and we're not gonna take it for granted." Away from basketball, Curry seems to be having a normal college experience. He lives in the dorms, has a girlfriend, and is studying sociology. And his family friendly Chevy Equinox certainly doesn't scream 'preseason All American'. Davidson President Tom Ross is as much a fan of Curry the normal student, as Curry the celebrity athlete. "On campus he's the same kid," Ross says. "I think in some ways this is his escape. Because he comes back here and he's treated by other students as Steph Curry just like he was before last March. Which is great for him because I think it gives him a place where he can be himself." Over the next few months, Curry will have to decide if he wants this life for another year. After this season, he says he'll decide if he wants to stay at Davidson for his senior year, or leave school early to enter the NBA draft.