OSCAR BELLFIELD was sitting on the wooden bleachers at the Westchester ( Calif.) Recreation Center on a recent Sunday watching his younger sister play an exhibition basketball game when a teenage girl spotted him and hurried over. Her silver filigreed earrings rocked as she sat down one bench beneath him.
"So, what school are you looking at?" she asked.
"Different ones," he said.
"I heard you were up visiting [the University of] San Francisco?"
"You gonna go there?"
Bellfield sighed softly. "I don't know."
"You don't know?"
Unhappy with the answer, the girl offered a half-hearted "See ya" and bolted down the gym toward someone else. Bellfield had engaged in two similar conversations in the last hour—in each case sensing that his questioner was really asking, Why don't you know?—and seemed close to his breaking point. "It's not easy to explain what I am doing," he said later.