PORTLAND -- There was a time when Brandon Cataldo had the world in his hands. At 7'-0" tall and nearly 300 pounds, he certainly had hands big enough to hold it.
Following a recent Portland State basketball practice, he rattled off all the schools which had offered him scholarships after his junior year of high school.
"Boise State, basically every school in the Big Sky (conference), Seattle U," he recalled. Cataldo also drew interest from several PAC-12 programs, as most 7-footers tend to do.
So how in the world did he end up on the doorstep to Tyler Geving's PSU office inside the Stott Center in downtown Portland?
"I went up for a lay up," he explained of the first practice of his senior season at Rainier High, "I came down and broke my tibia. It was tough, I couldn't even walk for like nine months."
The inactivity led to weight gain and he peaked at 367 pounds.
"My trainer and Coach Geving both told me if I want to get back, I'd have to shed some weight," he said. "So I took it seriously and made the adjustments."
Geving came away impressed.
"A lot of credit to him for that. I have trouble losing ten pounds! So for him to do it was big," the coach said.
In a recent game against Montana, Cataldo played all of one minute. Earlier in the season, he played eight minutes in a game. So this comeback story isn't yet complete. It's a work in progress. Kind of like his return to the court.
Brandon still battles the mental aspect of recovering from a brutal injury.
"It's better than it was two years ago, even one year ago," Geving explained. "But I'm sure it'll always be something in the back of his head."
Every time he goes up, Brandon wonders if he'll be able to stick the landing. "Yes," he agreed, "the mental aspect is tough, too." But no more difficult than being away from his teammates for so long. And it's certainly better than the alternative; never being able to play again.
That thought had crossed his mind. "I was worried, I thought it was my knee," he said of the day when he was sprawled out in that high school gymnasium.
Of course he was scared. He had the world in his hands. And a freak accident caused him to drop it.