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Del Oro grad is Sierra's center of attention

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Casey Arent is aware of what is at stake when he stays home instead of going out with his buddies. The 2008 Del Oro High School graduate’s social life will have to suffer for the time being. His future in basketball is far more important. The 6-foot-10 center is being recruited by universities such as Cal, Washington State and Colorado. A scholarship is easily within his reach. All the Sierra College sophomore has to do now is become eligible to transfer. He is taking 19 units this semester and will do so again during the spring in hopes of making his dream a reality. Arent could have avoided such a load if he had worked as hard at his studies as he did at basketball. He was a greyshirt in 2008-09, so he practiced with the team even though he did not play. Greyshirts save a year of eligibility by not carrying 12 units a semester. Arent did not carry much at all. He enrolled in just two classes in his first semester and earned a passing grade in only one. His opportunity to get a head start on reaching the NCAA transfer requirement had been wasted. Arent is paying the price now for what he did not do then, and the cost is studying all the time. Arent had fun two years ago when he was still in the “high school mode.” He figured he had time on his side since he would be attending Sierra for three years. Now the clock is ticking. “There’s no margin for error for me now,” Arent said. “I can’t imagine how easy it was in (2008).” Coach John Fusano has had his share of players who did not hit the books as hard as the boards. He has also had those like Arent who started slow in their classes and finished with a bang. “When you focus as a student, it makes you a better player. It’s that structure,” Fusano said. “He hasn’t realized how good he can be on the court and what he’s capable of in the classroom.” Fusano recruited Arent because he saw potential in the scrawny 180-pounder. Arent now weighs 240, giving him the bulk to go with his passing skills and shooting touch. Recruiters have noticed. An attitude adjustment came for Arent last season when recruiters followed him. All his conversations with Fusano suddenly began to make sense. A scholarship could be his for the taking. “When coach used to talk to me about scholarships and all the schools interested in me, it would go in one ear and out the other,” Arent said. “But it got real last year. That’s when it hit me.” An invitation to Jerry Mullen’s Top 120 JUCO Showcase in July was certainly the real deal. Arent was one of 120 junior college players who traveled to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. The two-day event convinced Arent that he has what it will take to play at the Division I level. Fusano also made the trip and was not at all surprised when he watched Arent hold his own. “Casey has the complete game,” Fusano explained. “He’s worked so hard, it’s not even funny. Some many schools are recruiting him. When you work as hard as he has, that’s what you get.” The last piece of the puzzle for Arent is earning enough credits to be eligible to transfer. He controls his own destiny. His friends can go out for a good time. He will stay home and study. “I’ve put so much work into basketball. Now I have to put the same work into school,” he said. “All my hard work is paying off. This has always been my dream. Now it’s actually happening.”