Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

Damiene Cain left the Colorado men's basketball team this week for personal reasons for the second time in his short tenure as a Buff.

He will not play again this season and might never wear the black, silver and gold again. That would be a shame.

Most guys can get away with leaving a team once regardless of the reasons. Few can do it twice. Cain's teammates say they want him back regardless.

That tells you all you need to know about the character and personality of a young man who is obviously going through a difficult period in his life.

"I totally support him," fellow freshman Spencer Dinwiddie said. "I'd love to have him back here and be a part of this team. It's sad to know that he's going through those personal issues right now."

Cain came to CU last summer as a highly recruited 6-foot-7 forward from Southern California along with fellow classmates Askia Booker and Dinwiddie. All three have known each other for years from playing against one another in AAU tournaments and high school. Those friendships blossomed once they arrived in Boulder.

But Cain, who was rated the 138th best player in the nation in the 2011 recruiting cycle by Rivals.com, began to question what he wanted from his college experience last summer shortly after coming to Boulder. He went to coach Tad Boyle and told him he had decided to give up basketball to focus on his studies and being a normal college student.

After months invested in recruiting Cain and getting to know him, it was a tough pill for Boyle and his staff to swallow, but they ultimately supported his decision and kept communicating with him. Doing so paid off because Cain decided midway through the fall semester that he wanted to play basketball after all.

Boyle allowed him to rejoin the program as a walk-on and after paying his dues for weeks in tough practices he was allowed to play in early December against Fresno State.

Cain didn't set the world on fire on the court, but he showed flashes of the dominant player he had been in high school and has the potential to be here. He missed three games with a concussion and played in a total of seven before his season came to an abrupt and unexpected end with Boyle's announcement.

Cain's sense of humor will be missed inside the locker room.

"He's a mellow guy," Booker said. "He's like under the weather kind of. He does his own thing. He's pretty funny and people don't know that. When you get him going around a lot of people who are all cracking jokes, he's pretty funny."

Dinwiddie said Cain talked to him at times in the months since they have been teammates about some of his problems. He said he did the best he could to listen.

Dinwiddie said there was a hole in the locker room and on the bench during the Buffs demolition of Arizona State at the Coors Events Center on Thursday.

"I think you see how much he loves basketball by him making an effort to come back in the middle of the year as he did," Dinwiddie said. "He's a competitor and he loves the game. I definitely think that once everything is settled, I think he loves basketball too much to be away from it."

The hope here is that Cain is able to conquer whatever challenges lie before him and return to the sport he loves at the school he chose. He has a huge opportunity here in Boulder to make his life what he wants it to be.