Ahmad Starks has moved well past the stage of proving he belongs at the high-Division I level.
Now in his third year at Oregon State, the next phase of the former Young guard's career has involved refining his game.
"This year I'm trying to attack the basket more," Starks said. "Ever since I walked in the door here, coach (Craig Robinson) has told me to look for my shot."
That tactical shift has made Starks more of a complete player for the Beavers, who raised their record to 11-8 with Wednesday's home victory over Washington.
"Ahmad's not a traditional small guard; he can get you assists but he's also a really good scorer," Robinson said. "I've always felt confident that any shot he takes could go in. Now we're trying to use that threat to make defenses come out and guard him so he can get to the line more."
The 5-foot-9 Starks remains lethal from long range — he ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.413) entering the week and is third on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game.
The green light Starks always has had from Robinson is a bit of a change from the way he approached things on the offensive end in high school.
"I was the person who had to play unselfishly and make sure the ball was being distributed," said Starks, whose teammates on Young's 2009 Class 4A state title squad included future Division I players Anthony Johnson (Purdue), Sam Thompson (Ohio State) and Chris Colvin (Arizona State), among others. "I also had the mindset to score but this is different."
That's partly because the Beavers' version of the "Princeton" offense calls for the ball to primarily go through the center.
The new approach has led to some big scoring nights for Starks, who cracked the starting lineup in Corvallis midway through his freshman year. He scored in a career-high 33 points against New Mexico State in the second game of the season and tied a school record with seven 3-pointers in the Beavers' near-upset of Kansas.
The Beavers' pre-conference road travels also included their annual trip to Washington D.C., where Robinson's sister, Young graduate Michelle Obama, resides. While there, Starks and his teammates enjoyed an itinerary that most Americans can only dream of.
"We had Thanksgiving dinner with the first family," Starks said. "We also got to shoot around on the White House's indoor court. It was just a great experience."
Ahmad Starks file
College: Oregon State.
Size: 5-9, 165.
High school: Young.
Numbers: 11.8 points per game, 45-for-108 in 3-pointers.