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Original Issue

Back to the Basket

Jay Mayernik's journey back to college basketball spanned 11 years, a graveyard shift, three kids and a chance encounter. Mayernik, 31, played at Southern Oregon in 2003--04 but left for academic reasons. He worked at a taxi company in Eugene, Ore., and watched hoops from afar. Slowly, Mayernik started to play again. Luke Jackson, a former NBAer and the coach at NAIA Northwest Christian, noticed Mayernik's skill in a pickup game and offered him a spot on the team. At 29, Mayernik returned to school. As a senior, the 6'7" center averaged 15.7 points and 12.4 rebounds, and was named an All-America. Mayernik won't pursue a pro career but has no regrets. "It was a phenomenal ride," he says.