by Kevin Bonner, Sports Media Relations Assistant During the fall of 1998, the Eleanor Roosevelt varsity squad had taken its preseason pickup games outdoors. An athletic lefty was already on the courts, working on his jumper. A sophomore at ERHS, he had never played much organized basketball, but nevertheless dominated the game. "Look, I'm going to see you in my gym tomorrow," Roosevelt High coach Glen Farello told Delonte West, now a sophomore at Saint Joseph's. West showed up in the gym the next day for his first real taste of organized basketball. He did not disappoint. Not heavily recruited, West signed early with Saint Joseph's in the fall of 2000. "You just had to hear of me through the grapevine," he quipped. Little did anyone know that the Greenbelt, Md. native would explode onto the scene during his senior season. A team captain, West averaged 20.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, five assists and four steals and was honored as the 2001 Metro Player of the Year by the Washington Post. "Some people said I should have waited until the end of my senior year [to sign], but I didn't know how my season was going to turn out. Either way, I came to an excellent situation," he said. "I just wanted to come to a winning organization." That situation included a team coming off a 26-7 season and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It also included a quartet of seniors, most notably Marvin O'Connor and Na'im Crenshaw, that could tutor West in his rookie campaign. "Marvin was an All-American, Na'im was an excellent wing player. A lot of people don't get that opportunity to come in and play against guys like that. I got a little lesson that first year," he said. "This year, it's time for me to step up and play a bigger role on this team." There's no doubt that some of the early success of this year's Hawk squad can be attributed to the play of the sophomore guard. After scoring 11 points in the opener at Boston College, West erupted with a 28-point outburst against Canisius, a new career high. The southpaw shot 9-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-8 from behind the arc and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, all personal bests. And that doesn't even include his team-leading eight rebounds from the off-guard position. "I was just getting open looks. I couldn't believe how many open looks I had. My whole life, I've been a scorer, so I just went off instincts," West said. Despite his scorer's mentality, he takes pride in his work on the defensive end as well. Take last Sunday's game against Old Dominion; West received the matchup of ODU's Rasheed Wright and held the Monarch's leading scorer to just 1-of-12 shooting. "It's just how I grew up playing out on the outdoor courts. Everything was personal," he said. West currently sports a scoring average of 17.3 ppg and leads the team in rebounding with 6.3 boards per outing. Some of his offense is created by his backcourt mate, All-American candidate Jameer Nelson. "He's one of the best point guards in America. He looks to pass first, he gets everyone involved and makes it very easy for me to get open shots," West said of Nelson. Off to their best start since 1994-95, the Hawks are still hungry. "We're taking a different approach this year. We don't really have any expectations, so that makes us even hungrier," West said. Most people in the Atlantic 10 only know of one West, Xavier's All-American candidate David West. That may change soon, especially if SJU's Delonte has anything to say about it.