Justin McIntee longed for the sport he loved most, so he quit the sport he played best and left a school he liked.
Friends questioned his decision. Some thought he was downright loony. But that's the thing: Hoop dreams are powerful indeed.
McIntee, a standout in basketball, football and volleyball at Newport Harbor High School, left one of the nation's top Division I college volleyball programs at Long Beach State to play basketball at Biola, an NAIA school in La Mirada. Confused? McIntee isn't.
"I missed basketball a lot," he said. "I started playing volleyball at the end of my freshman year in high school, but I've been playing basketball since I was a little kid."
McIntee (6 feet 4 and 195 pounds) starts at shooting guard for the Eagles, who are 7-15, 1-6 in the Golden State Athletic Conference. A sophomore, McIntee leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game.
McIntee makes 54% of his field-goal attempts. He shoots 48% from three-point range and 79% from the free-throw line.
"He works real hard and he's got a great spirit," Biola Coach Dave Holmquist said. "He's been consistent and he continues to get better. He's just a joy to coach."
McIntee scored a career-high 43 points against Pacific Christian on Nov. 11. Eight days later, he scored 35 against the Royals.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said McIntee, 20. "It took me about a year for things to start clicking again, but now they are."
McIntee accepted a partial volleyball scholarship from Long Beach after being selected the 1992 Sea View League volleyball player of the year. He was also chosen the league's athlete of the year.
But McIntee became restless while redshirting as a 49er freshman. Basketball dominated his thoughts.
"It still was a tough decision," McIntee said. "I had a really good time at Long Beach."
Long Beach volleyball Coach Ray Ratelle didn't stand in McIntee's way.
"He was doing fine in our program," Ratelle said. "I definitely think he would have made it (in volleyball)."
The loser in Round 1 of the McIntee recruiting battle, Biola eagerly stepped back in the fight.
"I knew I could play at this level," McIntee said. "And I wanted a smaller school where the classes would be smaller."
McIntee averaged 6.9 points last season while adjusting to his new surroundings. Although content with his decision, McIntee hasn't forgotten about volleyball.
"In the springtime I go crazy because I still love it," he said. "It's tough because they overlap too much to play both.
"But when I made that last decision, I decided I was going to stick with it. I am."
Hot Bronco: Jessica Eggleston is playing exactly the way Cal Poly Pomona's coaches had hoped, which means Eggleston is playing great.
Eggleston, a freshman forward from Cypress High, leads the Broncos in scoring, averaging 16.2 points. She scored a career-high 31 points in Pomona's 81-74 victory over UC Riverside in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game Jan. 28.
She made 12 of 16 field-goal attempts and seven of seven free throws. Eggleston was selected conference player of the week.
Big season: Senior center Leslie Ferguson is having another strong season for Redlands, a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Ferguson, a graduate of La Habra High, is third in the conference in scoring with an average of 19.6 points and second in rebounding at 13.2. She has set numerous conference records.
Super sub: Sarah Beckley provides a spark off the bench for Missouri Southern State, a Division II school in Joplin, Mo.
Beckley, a reserve freshman forward from Brea Olinda High, is the Lions' fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. She averages nine points on 65% shooting from the field and six rebounds.
\o7 Keeping Track is a regular column in The Times following the progress of former Orange County athletes competing for colleges elsewhere.\f7