At ease in his Nike hightops at Norm Manasco's home, Andie Bulcock looks very much the average American teenager.

It's not until he speaks his name that the 17-year-old loses that aura. He can no longer hide his northern English accent."It's Andie," he says, pronouncing it "Undee."

And it's an invitation to hear the interesting story of how the basketball-crazy son of an English industrial manager came on a whim to play hoops at a tiny high school off a small highway in western Kentucky.

"I'm still amazed that he's here at all," says Manasco, head basketball coach at Providence High School and the man Bulcock traveled nearly 3,000 miles to play for.

For Bulcock, the trip was "the chance of a lifetime." Raised in Bury, a city of about 65,000 northwest of Manchester in northern England, Bulcock grew up playing soccer. But when he was 13, a gym teacher at his school introduced the game of basketball, and Bulcock fell for it almost immediately.

But playing basketball in England is sort of like playing rugby in the United States. The lack of quality coaching, quality competition and proper facilities limits player development.

"I knew that if I wanted to play basketball seriously, I would have to go to school in the United States," Bulcock says. "So I got in a player exchange program."

At 6 feet 5 and 200 pounds, Bulcock stands out in the crowded hallways of Providence High. His easy smile and English charm has won the school.

Bulcock is ecstatic in recalling his first game for Providence this year - in the West Hopkins jamboree.

"The crowds were unbelievable," he says. "In England, I played for a club in a league of eight teams that represented the whole of northern England. Our average group of fans would be about 50 at best. . . . But Friday night there must've been 2,000 there to see us play in an exhibition game. High school kids! That blew my mind."

Manasco says Bulcock has a long way to go before he can match play with the best high schoolers in the area.

"He's so raw, but he absolutely loves to play and work hard," he says. "The other kids on the team already respect him for that."