There are no guarantees in this life, but in a world where everything bigger, newer and shinier gets the most attention, a young man silently plies his trade on fine hardwood courts throughout the heartland of America in hope of realizing a grand dream. This young man was once Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, a four-year player under the radar of many scouts and the average college basketball fan, doing work at tiny Weber State in Utah. Undeterred, despite the presence of other more high visibility draft picks, Lillard went on to earn the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and is now an All-Star in his second year in the Association. Now the names changed, but the aims the same. Brampton, Ontarios Melvin Ejim, a senior small forward for Iowa State Cyclones, may be next. With all of the hoopla in college basketball going to freshmen, a couple of whom play in his conference (Kansass Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid,) as well as a sophomore who many thought would enter the NBA Draft last year in Marcus Smart, Melvin Ejim is standing out as the leading scorer on one of the best teams in the Big 12. I had the chance to catch up with Ejim earlier this week. Whats the secret to your success? Its just a lot of hard work and dedication. Those guys [Wiggins, Embiid and Smart] are great players and have the big names in our conference. But were competing. Im playing hard and doing the best I can do to help my team win. Why choose Iowa State? They were the first to recruit me. They treated me well. I felt comfortable from the start with them. I wasnt this heavily recruited guy. They told me I had a chance to come in right away and play…make an impact and I did. Iowa State allowed me to grow and help change the culture here. This being my last semester, I dont carry a heavy class load now. I get to spend a lot more time in the gym, working on my game, getting better. Its pretty typical: breakfast, class, gym, study… What has been the biggest change in how people perceive you now vs. your first 3 years? Ive grown a lot. When I first got here, I was kind of rowdy…my game was unrefined…rough. Some people doubted that I could play at this level. Honestly, I questioned it at times, too. I turned the corner in my junior year when I knew not only could I play and be successful at this level, but also started thinking about what I could do to be successful at the next level. How has coach Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg helped you and the development of your game? Its been great with Coach Fred. Hes been a friend and a mentor, on and off the court. I mean, he was a star here at Iowa State and played 10 years in the NBA, so he knows what it takes to be successful in college and the pros. Ive grown so much watching him here and how he handles things. Coach is so cool, calm and collected. Watching him helped me to shape my on-court demeanor, where Ive been able to control my emotions when necessary and show them at the right times. What team in the NBA do you see as best fit for Melvin Ejim next season? Really, it doesnt matter. To make it to the NBA is a dream…Id be happy! Any team that is willing to take a chance on me, Id be happy to be a part of. Any team that values an all-around player wholl work hard, comes in with a winning attitude from a winning culture may like a player like me. If Melvin Ejim wasnt playing basketball for a living somewhere next year, what would he be doing? Id be in law school. I want to help people…help society. Thats definitely a goal of mine. Congratulations on being the inaugural Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2013, but which would mean more to you: being named NCAA Scholar Athlete of The Year 2014 or being a Naismith Award winner as the best college basketball player in the country? Oh, thats easy. Its a no brainer, really - the Naismith. I knew I wouldnt have any issues with my schooling. That was going to be handled, regardless. While its be great to be an Academic All-American, to be recognized as the best player in college basketball would be a great feeling. It would be a great accomplishment. What helps your draft stock more: dropping the Big 12 scoring record (48 point with 18 rebounds vs. TCU) or winning the Big 12 and eventually a national title, even if you dont play well? Winning is everything to me. Thats my attitude. While hitting 48 definitely got me some recognition in certain places, Id trade that 48 any day to win the conference and win the NCAA title. Winning matters to me. 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Vonn punctuated her near-perfect season in perfect fashion Friday, earning her fourth overall World Cup title with a dominating giant slalom victory.Two days ago our Farhan Lalji reported that one of the greatest receivers in CFL history, Geroy Simon was calling it a career. Since Farhans tweet, there have been all kinds of speculation as to why Simon would hang them up now, when as recently as a month and a half ago he indicated that he felt like he could play at least one more year. The rumour getting the most traction is that he wasnt offered enough money by Saskatchewan GM Brendan Taman to make another year worth his while. However, sources very close to the situation said on Sunday night that this decision had nothing to do with money. The recent talks between the Rider GM and Simon went fine and did not factor into his decision. Information which makes sense because in all my discussions with the CFLs yardage leader throughout the years he has never made decisions based on money, and there is no reason to think he would start now. Simon was trending on Twitter shortly after it was known that he was retiring, including tweets from many fans wondering why he wouldnt sign a one day contract with the Lions and hold the press conference in BC, since he played there the majority of his career there and racked up 14,756 of his 16,352 career yards as a Lion. Retiring with the team youve played for the bulk of your career with has become ordinary practice for most athletes in all sports. However, since entering the league with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Simon has been anything but ordinary, and has followed his own path. Last year he played for the Roughriders, and his best game of the season was the most important game of the season, when he had two touchdown catches in the Grey Cup against Hamilton, so he will retire a Rider.As for whether or not he could end up on another roster and play one more year in a different city, a source said as of Sunday night Simon had not heard from any other team in the league.dddddddddddd While it seems shocking that teams wouldnt at least contact him to gauge his interest in playing somewhere else, we shouldnt read into the lack of interest too much. First, Simon hasnt made it official, and until papers are filed to the league he is still a Roughrider. Also dont be surprised to hear that No. 81 may be hanging up his jersey, but isnt going to leave football, and that information may have already leaked to the other teams in the league. He still has gas in the tank and could help a young team like Ottawa for instance, and I consider myself one of many who think he could play at least one more year. However, it sounds like hes decided its time to make the transition into the next phase of his life, and once you have retired in your mind you are not going back, so it will be interesting to see what his new role in the game will be. As initially reported, the official press conference will be held sometime this week in Regina, and will mark the end of the playing career of the most productive receiver in CFL history. But as good as Simon was as a player he is even a better person, and will be successful in anything he does in the future. As I mentioned, it sounds like he will stay in football for now, but I know from previous conversations with him that he would be interested in exploring TV and I for one would welcome him with open arms to our team at TSN, if that opportunity ever presented itself. 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