Our take: For the second year in a row, a collegiate basketball player from the state of Utah could go in the lottery range of the NBA Draft. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick examines the journey that has led Damian Lillard from Oakland to Ogden to the cusp of basketball stardom.
Lillard has been struggling with his hometown since he was small, trying to appreciate the people who support him while protecting himself against the ones whose intentions he questions. For every good neighbor who offers him genuine well wishes on his hoops journey, there's another asking for a handout — albeit not at gunpoint — even before he's earned his first NBA paycheck. So Lillard chose the path of solitude, blocking out the pressures and most of the people who surrounded him and developing a singular focus on improving his game.
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