Derrick Marks' road to Boise State

Derrick Marks' choice to leave home in Chicago for Boise State shocked some. He's never looked back. Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie Marks was surprised when her brother came home and announced his decision.

After an impressive recruiting visit, Derrick Marks had decided to play for Boise State.

Not the first destination family and friends thought the 6-foot-3 guard would consider after his upbringing on the South Side of Chicago.

"Oh my goodness. When he told us he was going to Boise State, he didn't even ask us or anything," McKenzie Marks said. "I was like 'Wait. … Idaho?'"

Even Derrick Marks admits that he never thought he'd compete for the Broncos as a prep. But he clearly made the right choice. In his first two seasons with the team, he's emerged as an offensive star for a squad that could win the Mountain West title this season and rally in the NCAA tournament.

"I couldn't really tell you how I ended up in Boise," he said. "When I came on my visit, it just felt like the right place I had to be. I don't know. Boise's just a good city and I felt like I wanted to come to college here. … I feel like this was the perfect fit and I have the right coaching staff, I have the right teammates around me and I feel like I'll get to the place that I want to be at."

Boise State is among a pool of programs that should enter the season on the Top 25 bubble. Former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice has assembled a team that boasts a crop of young talent who guided the program to a surprising NCAA tourney slot last season. Rice's best players from that group return.

But his term didn't start with that potential when he arrived in 2010. After losing multiple seniors following his first season, Rice began 2011-12 with 11 new players, a group that included Marks.

"From the first moment I saw him, it's just one of those guys I fell in love with," Rice said. "He had some rough edges and things we felt like we had to polish up once we got him. Thing about Derrick is he's just a worker. He's found a way to get better at all these things."

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