Keith Brumbaugh making the most of second (and third) chance (cont.)
In retrospect, Brumbaugh said he probably would have faced the same situation had he left his name in the 2005 Draft. He had dominated the AAU circuit, and before his senior year, his name sat near the top of most recruiting rankings -- above Andrew Bynum, Mario Chalmers and Tyler Hansbrough. His senior year, Brumbaugh dropped into the teens for reasons he still doesn't entirely understand. He still threw his name in the hat, but he pulled out when he realized he wouldn't be a first-rounder.
Instead, Brumbaugh opted to go to Oklahoma State. He went to Stillwater with no rap sheet. During high school, local newspapers had published stories that questioned his attitude and alluded to a temper problem, but Brumbaugh never had run afoul of the law. Brumbaugh believes the stories took some liberties, especially when they described him as the product of a broken home.
The next time Brumbaugh made the papers was after an Aug. 20, 2005 trip to a Stillwater Wal-Mart. He was cited for shoplifting when he set off an alarm after, he said, a pair of DVDs slipped into a small garbage can he was buying along with a cartful other items and didn't get scanned. Brumbaugh had paid for all the other items, but that detail seemed to get lost in the shuffle. To this day, some think that incident led to Brumbaugh's dismissal at Oklahoma State. To paraphrase Cowboys football coach Mike Gundy, that's not true.
After Brumbaugh signed with Oklahoma State, someone suggested that the NCAA look into his ACT score. Brumbaugh made a 24 after months of preparation as a high-school junior. After he obtained the qualifying score, he admits, he did just enough in the classroom to keep himself eligible to play college ball. When the NCAA flagged his score, he was forced to take the test again, and with just three weeks to prepare he had to score within three points of his first test. He said he scored a 20.
Since he couldn't play at Oklahoma State, Brumbaugh returned to DeLand, a small central Florida town that has yet to be swallowed by Orlando's suburban sprawl. Brumbaugh couldn't stand the looks he got. At 6-9, he felt he didn't fit in anywhere but a basketball court. He'd "zombied out" on basketball, and he didn't know what to do with himself.
One thing that relaxed him, he said, was shooting at a local gun range. "Remember," he said, "I'm from the country." That hobby explained why, Brumbaugh said, he had in his trunk a Bushmaster rifle with 56 rounds in the magazine and several hundred loose rounds when he noticed police lights in his rearview mirror on May 20, 2006, exactly a year to the day after his press conference to announce his entry in the NBA draft. Brumbaugh's cousin, Justin Brown, was in the passenger seat. Brown, a convicted felon, knew he'd get thrown in jail if police found him in the same vehicle as a firearm, even a legally purchased one that belonged to someone else (Brumbaugh's gun was legal). So he ran. Brumbaugh did the same.
Brumbaugh said he only had the gun and the ammo to use at the range. (Police also found a knife, according to the report.)
When the two boys sprinted away, Brumbaugh's mind raced. His high-school sweetheart was pregnant with their daughter. Would he have to see her for the first time behind bulletproof glass? Next thing he knew, he was shirtless, sweating and climbing fences to get away. "It was like panic mode," Brumbaugh said. "I'm (thinking I'm) not going to be able to see my kid. It's not an excuse. It was very dumb. I'm just trying to explain my reasoning. It's still dumb."
Brumbaugh and his cousin were eventually caught and arrested, and a Volusia County judge accepted Brumbaugh's explanation and gave him only probation. If he stayed out of trouble, he could essentially wipe away his mistake. Brumbaugh then moved to Marianna, Fla., home of junior-college power Chipola. Five weeks into his probation, his car sat unattended, blasting music. Brumbaugh ran for the driver's seat as a police officer approached. According to the police report, the officer spied Brumbaugh hiding something under the seat. "The guy asked me if I had anything in the car," Brumbaugh said. "I said yes. I tried to do the honest thing. "
According to the report, Brumbaugh had a little more than a third of an ounce of marijuana in four small bags. "Once again," he said, "it was very dumb." Though Florida has a misdemeanor charge for fewer than 20 grams (about two-thirds of an ounce) of marijuana, police used the four bags as evidence to ask the State Attorney's Office to charge Brumbaugh with possession with intent to distribute, a felony.