There are two college memories that former Milford Mill star Craig Amos says will stay with him for the rest of his life.
One came last March in his final game at St. Joseph's (Pa.) University, when the 6-foot-7 shooting guard hit a second-half basket to break the school's all-time scoring record, sending the sellout crowd at Philadelphia's Palestra into a frenzy.
The second came minutes later, when he realized that his college career was over.
"It was a shock," said Amos. "For the first time, I didn't know what my next step was."
Nine months later, the 22-year-old has taken that next step by stepping back to Milford Mill. In his new role as the Millers' assistant coach, Amos says he can fulfill his love for basketball while getting on with the rest of his life.
"It keeps me in the game," says Amos, Milford's all-time leading scorer. "[Finishing your college career] is almost like losing your girlfriend and not knowing whether you're going to get her back."
She may be several years older and recently may have undergone a facelift -- Milford's gym has been renovated since his graduation in 1988 -- but, at least for the time being, in Amos' mind, she's back.
The process began late last summer, when, after several pro tryouts, Amos phoned Millers head coach Homer Seidel offering to volunteer his services to the team. But when an assistant coach retired, he grabbed at the opportunity to work with his old coach.
"Working with Mr. Seidel is very special to me," said Amos. "He did a lot for me."
As assistant coach, Amos instructs kids who only know him through his basketball legacy. He not only knows how the game should be played, but he can use his athletic ability to show them how it's done.
"He's been helping me with my jump shot, and it's improved a whole lot," said Milford junior Ken Bostic, who has improved his scoring average from 8.4 last year to over 16 this season. "Last year, I couldn't buy a jump shot. This year, that's how I score most of my points."
Bostic said that the small age difference between the players and Amos makes it easier for them to relate to the coach.
"The kids all have tremendous respect for him," said Seidel. "This is one of the best things that's happenned to me during my coaching career.
"He's a marvelous young man, and has had a tremendous impact on our kids."
After a stellar career at St. Joe's, however, Amos felt certain he'd be peddling his trade on the professional level by now.
Over the last four years, Amos received numerous honors, including an Honorable Mention All-East selection his junior year by Eastern Basketball and a third-team All-Atlantic 10 as a senior. He scored 1,735 points to gain the Hawks' all-time scoring record, and twice was named as a second-team All-Big Five selection.
Last year, as a senior co-captain, he averaged 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, and once was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week.
But after spending last summer trying out for numerous teams -- everywhere from Louisville, in the now-defunct Global Basketball Association, to a professional team in Turkey, where he was beaten out by a former NBA player in the final round of cuts -- Amos chose to concentrate on beginning a career.
"I basically wanted to give it a good summer before I got on with the rest of my life," said Amos. "That's one of the reasons I got my degree in four years. I wanted to make sure I had something to fall back on."
Amos earned a degree in criminal justice, and hopes to one day become a probation officer. He currently is working full-time at the Department of Social Services.
"Basketball doesn't dominate my life anymore," he says. "When I was in high school, all I thought about was basketball, basketball, basketball. But I'm no longer getting free sweats and tennis shoes. Those days are over.
"Now I have to take care of myself. Reality helps you to make that change. One of the things I don't want to do is keep on trying out for this team and that team. That's risky."
Amos says the most important thing he can do right now is gain job experience in his field. He hopes to soon take the test to become a police officer, then go from there.
He says his future coaching exploits depend on his career, and it's progression.
As far as playing . . . he says an occasional pick-up game is enough right now. No matter what lies ahead, however, he'll always have memories of being the best.
"I'll always remember the bucket at the Palestra to break the scoring record," said Amos. "There was so much pressure from the fans and the media. When I finally got it, it was like somebody took a 200-pound weight off my back. It was just the happiest feeling.
"I don't think I have the desire to try it again, but who's to say? The longer I stay away, the more [the desire] might come back."