ATLANTA - Former Berkmar star Matt Causey appeared to have turned his back on big-time college basketball for good.
The 2003 Gatorade state high school player of the year left Georgetown after his freshman season and headed to North Georgia, a school transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
It seemed like a strange move, but Causey wanted to play with older brother Mark and concentrate on his biology studies.
After two seasons of being a big fish in a small pond, the point guard decided that maybe major college hoops was for him after all.
"I had a year left and I wanted to give it a shot," Causey said. "But I didn't know if anyone would want me."
Four years after saying good-bye to the big time, Causey is saying hello again.
It's been a strange and winding trip.
"Just to be wearing a Georgia Tech uniform is a dream come true," Causey said.
The 6-foot senior is certainly doing much more than just wearing a Yellow Jackets uniform.
Causey is a starter in the ACC and the rust from sitting out last season is vanishing more and more each game.
Causey is averaging 5.6 points and 4.1 assists per game. The assist mark is in the ACC's Top 10 and so is his assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2-to-1.
"I was obviously hoping that I'd get to play some," Causey said. "But there is really no way I could have expected this."
If Jarvis Crittenden had stayed in school for his sophomore season instead of going to the NBA, Causey would have been buried deep on the bench.
Instead, Georgia Tech has had to scramble for a point guard and Causey has taken advantage of the opening.
D'Andre Bell is a defensive specialist, but struggles running the offense. Maurice Miller, a freshman, has proven too inexperienced.
Causey drew attention from Tech fans when he hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to beat Notre Dame at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
It is Causey's ability to push the ball up court, though, that has won him a starting job from coach Paul Hewitt.
The Yellow Jackets are just 5-5 going into Thursday's home game with Tennessee Tech, but have shown signs of improvement recently. Pushing No. 3 Kansas to the final seconds was certainly encouraging.
"I think we're getting better with each game and I know that I'm getting more comfortable," Causey said.
But the ACC wars begin next Sunday, with Florida State coming to Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
"I'm really looking forward to the ACC games," Causey said. "I've been coming here to games since I was a kid."
Having a grandfather who graduated from Tech, however, was hardly enough to get an automatic spot to the team when he decided to transfer after averaging nearly 24 points and seven assists during his two seasons at North Georgia.
"I had to approach them," Causey said. "They certainly didn't approach me."
Causey had his moments at Georgetown, including a 12-point, five-assist game as the Hoyas almost upset Boston College in the Big East Tournament. But the school just wasn't the right fit.
Causey has bounced around before. He and brother Mark - two years older - led East Hall to a state title before his move to Berkmar as a junior. Causey averaged 21.5 points and 8.7 assists as a senior with the Patriots.
An academic All-American at North Georgia, Causey will graduate from Georgia Tech this spring with his degree in biology and is considering medical school.
"But I think I might take a break for a year and maybe even try to play basketball overseas," he said.
Basketball is at the top of Causey's priority list again, even though a troublesome knee has remained a concern for years.
"Doctors keep telling me not to play on it," Causey said. "But this is my senior year and I'm certainly not going to baby it now."
SideBar: Tennessee Tech at Georgia Tech
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Alexander Memorial Coliseum