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SHARKS GRAD MAKES THE GRADE TO STAY IN THE GAME

When academics got him down, Chris Bossio didn't give up on his college dreams.

In certain instances, the numeral 1.9 would have a positive connotation.

Take, for instance, a 1.9 earned average.

Or a 1.9 goals against average.

But a 1.9 grade point average?

"I knew if I wanted to go to college," Chris Bossio said , "I had to put school first."

Two years later, the former Nature Coast star is there: a high school graduate, an all-county player, and, in a few short days, a college basketball player at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.

It's an academic comeback unsurpassed by any he has experienced on the court.

In 2005, Bossio was five games into his junior season when he was yanked off the court due to poor grades (no, that 1.9 was not a misprint). At the time, his parents, neither of whom attended college, begged him to "be a difference maker."

Unlike many teen-aged sons, he listened.

Bossio loaded up on classes and inhaled homework and dedicated himself to getting out of Hernando County.

By the time he finished his senior season this spring, averaging 13.5 points per game to lead the Sharks, his once-meager GPA had transformed into a respectable 2.6.

It didn't make him a Rhodes scholar, but it did get him into Southwestern, where he'll play NAIA basketball and likely study business.

"I didn't want to be the one that has to work so hard just to make it, just to pay bills," Bossio says.

At Southwestern, Bossio will play for coach Doug Hall, who has known former Nature Coast coach Travis Priddy for years.

When Bossio told Priddy he would be willing to play basketball anywhere, Southwestern popped into the coach's mind.

"I told him, if you're willing to move out of state, I can find you a place right away," said Priddy, who recently accepted a coaching job at a high school in Savannah, Ga.

Southwestern is a small private school 40 miles outside of Wichita. In addition to possessing one of the more unique names in college basketball, the Moundbuilders have won at least 20 games in each of the past three seasons and are 47-3 at home in that time span.

"I've made a living with really good guards," Hall said.

Thanks in large part to an academic fast-break, he is getting another one.

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1407.

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