For Michael Lloyd, it hits the hardest when he's watching basketball and the Arkansas Razorbacks are on.
"Sometimes, I just get up and leave the room for a little bit," Lloyd said.
For Donta Bright, it becomes most difficult when he's fidgeting in the stands at the University of Massachusetts' Curry Hicks Field House while watching the Minutemen play. "I sit there thinking to myself," Bright said, "that I could be helping this team right now."
At this time a year ago, Lloyd and Bright were earning All-American status on a Dunbar basketball team on its way to a national championship. Each was highly recruited, and each was expected to be a freshman of impact in Division I this season.
But, because neither was able to score 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, necessary for freshman eligibility, their Division I debuts have been delayed. They have taken different paths this season.
Lloyd, a 6-foot-2 guard, signed a letter of intent to play at Arkansas last April.
But when he failed to meet the NCAA's Proposition 48 standards, he had to decide whether he could be a cheerleader on the sidelines for a full season.
He had to play. So Lloyd decided to play at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College. Dunbar's leading scorer last season with 21.9 points a game, Lloyd leads the nation's junior-college scorers with a 31.8-point average -- on 65.8 percent shooting from the field.
"The basketball is similar to my high school days, only that I have to show a lot of my individual talent," said Lloyd, who followed the advice of former Dunbar and San Jacinto guard Sam Cassell, now at Florida State.
"It was different at Dunbar, where Donta or Keith [Booth] or somebody else could pick up the slack," Lloyd said. "Here, I carry a lot of weight."
He began carrying it immediately, scoring 25 in his first game and later lighting up Lee (Texas) College for a season-high 41 points.
"I realized after the first game that this wasn't going to be as hard as I thought," said Lloyd, who after another season of JuCo ball -- and another year of passing grades -- will be free to play out his remaining two years of eligibility at any college he chooses. "I'll do well as long as I play up to my ability."
Off the court, Lloyd said, he's also adjusting. He had a 2.8 grade-point average after the first semester and said he's on course with his class hours.
"You have to learn to do a lot of things on your own as far as going to school and realizing you have to be responsible," Lloyd said. "After the first three weeks, I knew no one was going to come to my door and wake me up to go to class."
Going the junior-college route, which would have allowed him to play immediately, was also an option for Bright, who will have three years of eligibility remaining. But, in the end, he felt the best move for him would be to attend Massachusetts and sit out a year.
"It's not as hard as people say," said Bright, who, for the past month, has been in Baltimore on semester break. "It helps you and makes you a stronger person. A lot of freshmen in general wind up flunking out, but I've been working real hard."
Bright had a 2.5 GPA for the first semester.
"People in Baltimore would say, 'Donta can't do it. He'll be back home,' " Bright said. "I'm glad they're saying that, because it's giving me the will to do well."
Although Lloyd and Booth say they are happy with their decisions, they have had second thoughts.
"I've thought about it at times. And, when I see Arkansas, there are areas where I know I could help them out," Lloyd said. "You see people out there that you've played against, and it's frustrating. What I do is take my frustration out on the basketball court. I can't change what's happened."
Bright shares that frustration when he goes to the Massachusetts home games.
"Yeah, I think about playing now," Bright said. "But since I didn't ,, get the requirements, I have to sit out. But everyone's treating me well, and everyone's really helping me out.
"I'm just waiting my turn," added Bright, who's planning to major in either education or sports management. "And, in the meantime, I'm proving to myself, my family and the people who doubted me that I will make it as a student and that I will play basketball."