The phone rang in the summer of 2012. Antonio Poole picked it up. The budding basketball superstar's life was about to change. Dramatically.
"My brother got robbed," Poole said. "They shot him four times."
All those hoop dreams evaporated. The 5-foot-7 point guard couldn't find them anywhere. His only concern was his brother's life and his family, especially his mother, Veronica Townsell.
"I could not believe it, I was crying tears," Poole said. "It was me and him against the world. And I didn't know if he was going to be there."
Poole grew up in Gary and planned to attend West Side. But the family had moved to Columbus, Ohio, where his brother was shot. So they returned home and Poole put on a Cougars uniform last season.
It lasted about four games. His brother's condition took his mind off of everything. He had five Fs and one D when he moved in with his aunt in Hammond.
He needed a fresh start.
As boys basketball began in Indiana with the first day of practice on Monday, Poole had two As, two Bs, one C and one D on his report card, a huge jump up from before.
"And I'm working on bringing that D up where it belongs," he said.
Poole's game exploded in the AAU summer circuit. He was invited to DePaul's Big East Tip-Off Party on Oct. 25 in Chicago. The Blue Demons and Indiana State are both recruiting the youngster, who has a ton of upside.
What he brings to Hammond should give the Wildcats a surge, too.
"No. 1 he's a great kid," Hammond coach Larry Moore Jr. said of Poole, who he believes has a chance of becoming an Indiana All-Star. "He's had some obstacles in his life that he's had to overcome, but I believe it has made him stronger.
"He is a ball player. He has great energy, he's very mature. The guys on this team are looking up to him already."
Up the street in East Chicago coach Abe Brown also has a talented newcomer on the roster. Frederick Scott, a 6-foot-7 junior, returns home after playing two years at basketball power Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Since 1981, the school has had 25 of its alumni drafted into the NBA, including Jerry Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony, Tywon Lawson and Rajon Rondo.
He grew up in E.C., went to Calvary Christian in Griffith for middle school before heading east to the big time.
"I wasn't on the team that is on TV," Scott said of playing on Oak Hill's B team. "But I would've been on the national team had I stayed there. But I wanted to get back to my home school and my mom wanted me to come home, too."
Scott has already received offers from Kent State and Evansville. Teaming him with the highly recruited Hyron Edwards should make E.C. a player this basketball season.
Coach Brown, though, is waiting for the football players returning from this remarkable postseason run they're on.
"(Scott) gives us some height which is something we've needed," Brown said. "He can put the ball on the floor and push it, too. He doesn't have to wait and hand it to a guard.
"He just needs to get more aggressive. We need to get that E.C. blood back in him because that's the way we play in Northwest Indiana."