Dominique Sutton certainly didn't dominate college hoops last year, but he proved himself worthy of its highest reaches. The Kansas State forward was coach Frank Martin's best defender in the Wildcats' run to the Elite Eight in last season's tournament, and he contributed here and there on the score sheet, too, notching 7.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 2009-10.
Which is why when Sutton surprised K-State with his decision to leave the school and transfer nearer to his hometown of Durham, N.C. -- where he could spend more time with his two young daughters -- many assumed Sutton would land at one of the ACC's bigger brands. Those of you with cheesy dads knows what happens when you assume.
Turns out Sutton was having a tough time finding a bigger school that would allow him to play immediately. So he went with the next best thing: tiny North Carolina Central.
Were it not for a handful of former professional players -- current coach LeVelle Morton among them -- Sutton would be the best player in the school's history from the moment he steps on the school's Durham campus. NC Central is in its third year of Division I membership, and it just joined the MEAC July 1. It is one of the lower lights in all of Division I, but given the school's recent reclassification and relative success against similar opponents a year ago, you could contextually argue that it's a program on the rise. (You'd be stretching credulity to do so, but hey, feel free.)
Sutton will petition the NCAA for a hardship waiver to play immediately. If it's granted, and Oklahoma transfer Ray Willis -- 2008's No. 26-ranked shooting guard who failed to make an impact in two years at Oklahoma -- can join him, lowly NC Central could immediately become the MEAC's best team, just like that.
Which means Sutton turned down a chance to go to the Final Four with Kansas State, one of the country's truly ascendant programs, in favor of playing in the dregs of Division I for a program that ascended to one of the country's least-successful conferences no more than a month ago. Say this much for Sutton: The man clearly loves his daughters. How many players would have done the same?