Now considered one of the best basketball prospects in the country, De'Aaron Fox wisely deferred when he made his debut on the national recruiting scene two years ago.
Fox had just completed his freshman year of high school when he joined up with the Houston Hoops program on the Nike EYBL circuit. Most players in that league are rising seniors, some are rising juniors, and very few were as young as Fox.
That he was even playing among the older recruits was an indication of talent beyond his years. Considering who he was playing alongside, it was probably best to take a backseat.
That Houston Hoops team featured Justise Winslow and Kelly Oubre — both one-and-done, top-15 picks in this year's NBA Draft — and Justin Jackson, who's projected as a first-round selection after he completes his upcoming sophomore season at North Carolina.
Rather than force the issue, Fox was the consummate team player. He led the squad in assists at the season-ending Peach Jam and was fourth in scoring behind the "big three" of Winslow, Oubre and Jackson.
"When he came over he had all of this talent and ability but he was willing to do whatever it took, because he knew the guys around him," said Houston Hoops Coach Tim Schumacher. "He was a point guard, and he was trying to make them better."
Two years later and heading into his third summer with the Nike program, Fox's coaches tried to get him to shake some of those good habits.
Rather than defer to his teammates, Schumacher told Fox that it was his time to grab the spotlight. The 6-foot-4 Texan managed the balance to perfection.
Fox led the EYBL — the toughest summer circuit in the country — in assists and steals, and he still managed to average 16.8 points, finishing among the top 10 players in total scoring for the summer.
"What we tried to focus on was, 'Hey, I don't want you to run a team. I need you to be De'Aaron Fox and be the best player in the country,'" Schumacher said. "Get him to be more assertive and to understand that he's special. And sometimes making the right plays is not the best for our team. We need him to make his plays.
"You can pass it to other guys and they're wide open, but sometimes it's better for a guy like him to take a guarded shot. Learning that balance — making sure he was keeping his teammates happy and also being able to be aggressive and affect the game the way he was capable of — was one of the main challenges we faced this year."
Schumacher says Fox is one of the top five players in the class of 2016, and the rankings from the national recruiting services might agree with him when they're updated to reflect the summer.
247Sports has already bumped him to the No. 2 spot in the class of 2016, and Scout.com — which ranked him No. 16 heading into the spring — is due for an update in the coming days.
Scout.com's director of recruiting Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader that Fox had as good a July as any player he evaluated, and he saw them all.
"At the point guard position he has all the tools — size, athleticism, quickness, competitiveness, vision, passing and now he's added a consistent jump shot.
"He's a terror on the defensive end of the floor and really wreaks havoc with his ball pressure. ... He's an elite prospect and a future NBA player."
First, he'll spend at least one season in college.
Fox recently cut his recruiting list to seven schools: Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, Louisiana State, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
He's in the process of scheduling his official visits and has said that UK and Kansas are two schools that will get such trips. That's one good sign for the Cats.
Ninety-five percent of recruiting analysts in the 247Sports Crystal Ball are predicting that he'll pick Kentucky. That's another.
Schumacher called UK "a special place" in the world of college basketball, though he noted that all seven of the schools on Fox's list have a legitimate shot at his commitment.
The AAU coach said Fox's on-the-court IQ is "off the chart," but his smarts extend further than that.
In an interview with the Herald-Leader earlier this year, Fox said he had not yet been contacted by the UK coaching staff. Still, he conveyed a deep knowledge of the Wildcats' program and its recent history under John Calipari.
Schumacher chuckled at that story, not surprised that his star player had planned for the possibility that the Wildcats might get involved.
"He's intelligent," he said. "He understands the process, and he has a great support system around him. He's trying to make a decision that's best for his future, and he's going to make sure he evaluates each program and has a good handle on what he's getting into."