Shane Gatling was going to be happy with whatever offers he received out of high school.
Most of them were from Division II and Division III programs along the east coast. There were a few mid-majors and lower-tier Division I programs as well, one of which Gatling pursued with an open mind.
Still, Gatling never believed that within a few years he would be playing in a premier conference like the Pac-12. And despite brimming with confidence, two years ago he certainly never figured he would be stepping into a prominent role for the University of Colorado nearly 2,000 miles from home.
Yet that is exactly how Gatling's collegiate basketball career has unfolded so far. And after arriving in Boulder this month to begin workouts with his new Buffaloes teammates, Gatling is more than eager to continue the ascension that has elevated him from an overlooked prospect to a junior college All-American this past season at Indian Hills Community College.
"In high school I wasn't getting recruited much. I was getting recruited by a lot of Division II (schools)," Gatling said. "I wasn't looking to go JUCO. I was looking to go Division I or Division II but I got a couple JUCO calls and I ended up going to Indian Hills. They said I'd have the same role I had in high school. Anybody would take that role.
"So I went there, worked hard, and I ended up getting recruited by a lot of schools."
A native of Baldwin, N.Y. on Long Island, Gatling originally didn't stray too far from home, beginning his collegiate career at Niagara. He played in all 33 games at Niagara during the 2016-17 season, averaging 4.7 points per game while shooting .341 from 3-point range. But Gatling never felt settled at Niagara and eventually transferred to Indian Hills, one of the top junior college programs in the nation.
The rural school in Iowa proved to be a perfect fit for the young man from the big city, as Gatling tied a school record by knocking down 102 3-pointers while averaging 16.6 points. Moreover, after recording more turnovers (22) than assists (19) during his one season at Niagara, Gatling displayed a dramatic improvement in his ball-handling skills and decision-making in a bigger role at Indian Hills, posting an assist-to-turnover rate of 1.9 (100 assists, 53 turnovers) that has CU coach Tad Boyle confident Gatling can spell McKinley Wright on occasion at the point guard spot.
"I think it was a style more fitting for me, and also just playing the game of basketball and making the right plays," Gatling said. "Sometimes I would do something stupid, like do a no-look pass for a turnover instead of a regular bounce pass. Keeping the ball in our possession is a big thing, especially when you're playing good teams."
Gatling is in line to make an immediate impact from long range as the de facto replacement for George King and Dom Collier, who combined to account for more than 43 percent of the Buffs' made 3-pointers during the 2017-18 season. The chance to fill that void was a big reason why Gatling settled on CU.
"(Boyle) told me they were losing their top two 3-pointers and they needed an older guy to come in to have a good role on the team," Gatling said. "The fact they were two 3-point shooters, I think I can have a big role and play positively this season. I'm very excited about the opportunity. Once conference play starts, I'll be playing against future pros every night."