MONTGOMERY, W.Va. -- - Jaren Marino faced an uphill battle when he stepped onto campus at WVU Tech to play basketball.
Marino, a South Charleston High graduate, was accepted as a walk-on for Coach Bob Williams and the Golden Bears and was red-shirted his freshman season.
Then following his first season in 2010, Williams informed Marino that he shouldn't expect much playing time, if any all. That conversation held true to form last season when the sophomore guard played in just two game for a total of two minutes.
This year, though, things have changed drastically for Marino in terms of playing time and he has certainly made the most of it.
Marino has started 21 of 25 games this season, and on Wednesday night, scored a career-high 27 points in leading the Golden Bears (15-10) to an 87-74 victory over Southern Virginia.
"Two years ago, I told him, 'Bubby, you're a 6-1 two-guard and you can't shoot at all. You're probably never going to play here.' I told him that to his face in an exit meeting when he was going home for the summer," Williams said.
Marino couldn't be happier with how he has turned his career around.
"It's a dream come true, it really is," Marino said. "It's been a long time and it feels really great. Coach Williams is putting a lot of confidence in me. That has really helped me. The players around me have pushed me to be better."
Williams is equally happy that Marino has transformed himself into the player that he is today.
"I've never seen a kid improve his jump shot as he has," Williams said. "He is a self-made player that outworks the competition. The last two summers he has put in so much time. He is reaping the rewards for the hard work.
"He has improved himself individually. It's great. What a bonus for us. We took him as a walk on and he earned a scholarship. He is having a great season and had a fantastic game tonight."
To go along with Marino's career night, the Golden Bears also got a huge game from senior David Rawlinson, who had 23 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds.