Shortly after arriving in Boulder this summer, Colorado women's basketball player Kai Volcy walked into the dorm room of fellow freshman Cameron Swartz.
Volcy noticed the walls of Swartz's new home covered with decorations.
"She said, 'Oh my mom did it for me,'" Volcy said. "I was like, 'This is your first time away from home, isn't it?'
"I came with no decorations and my parents were like, 'See ya!'"
For Volcy, moving into a new dorm at CU was no big deal, because she's spent the past several years living away from her New Jersey home as she attended boarding schools.
Unlike Swartz and many of her teammates, though, Volcy is entering uncharted waters on the basketball court, bringing untapped potential to the Buffaloes.
She is the ultimate late bloomer on the court.
"Definitely, in every aspect of the term," she said. "Late bloomer, 100 percent. But, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. It's kind of interesting to see what the peak is going to be or what's to come."
Needing more of a post presence, the Buffaloes' coaching staff this spring found out about Volcy, a 6-foot-4 center who played last season at The Hun School, a prep academy in Princeton, N.J.
Volcy had previously played high school basketball at The Groton School in Groton, Mass., but academics were a much higher priority there than athletics. It was during her time at Groton that she realized basketball could actually be a part of her future.
"When I realized I wanted to get into the sport, I was like, 'I'm not in a good place for this,'" she said.
Being young for her grade, and seeking a challenge athletically, Volcy elected to go to a prep school last year.
"I wanted to get some more basketball experience under my belt because I had come into the sport kind of late," she said.
At The Hun School last year, Volcy averaged 12.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. She also played for the New Jersey Demons club team.
While she has played basketball the past few years, Volcy has never been fully challenged on the court and she comes to CU not really knowing how good she can become.
"That's the best part about being a late bloomer," she said. "I don't know if I have a ceiling, or what it is. I'm really excited to kind of figure that out. It's the reason I'm here."
Already, Volcy is discovering new ways to excel on the court. In one of Volcy's first workouts with the team last month, head coach JR Payne watched her shooting 3-pointers.
"I said, 'I bet that's the first 3 Kai's ever shot,'" Payne said.
She was right, but then added, "At the end of that segment, she goes 5-for-6 from 3."
The Buffs won't be asking their center — who is every bit of her listed height of 6-4 — to be shooting 3s very often, but Payne is already enjoying Volcy's willingness to learn and adapt to what coaches are asking her to do.
"It's almost better coming in (as a late bloomer)," Payne said. "There's no real bad habits we have to undo. We're over the top excited about Kai because we feel like we can just mold her into whatever we want from a basketball standpoint."
Outside of basketball, Volcy is sure to succeed. She has an engaging personality, strong academic background and maturity from being away from home during her last several years of school.
On the court, she's enjoying the early stages of her growth. Volcy admits she is a "very cautious player," but was excited to learn she can actually use her size and strength to play aggressive in the paint.
"A big part of it is just the difference between what's legal in high school and college, because you put your hands on someone in high school at my size and it's an automatic foul," she said. "I think I'm going to have to develop it a little bit more, but I definitely have the mentality (of playing physical)."
Volcy can certainly help any of her fellow freshmen who might feel a bit homesick this year, but there's no doubt she'll lean on her teammates and coaches as she discovers her potential on the court.
"I need to develop confidence and I'm here for a reason and I need to trust myself more," she said.