In December of 2013, forward Dwayne Polee collapsed in one of San Diego State’s practices. Polee’s collapse would be attributed to what would later be determined as a heart condition. From that frightening moment, Polee would be monitored, yet showed no recurring signs of ailment for the remainder of the season. Polee would go on to have an excellent junior season, hitting a game winning three at Boise State and scoring in double-figures in each tournament game he played in. Polee would play an integral role for Steve Fisher, fueling San Diego State to the 2014 Mountain West Championship game and NCAA tournament Sweet 16.
Then, during a game this season on Dec. 22, the unimaginable happened. Polee collapsed again, this time in an actual competition against UC Riverside. It would remain uncertain if Polee would return to the court in his senior season.
Polee is no stranger to adversity. Originally from the Los Angeles, he would travel across the country to play for Steve Lavin at St. John’s in his freshman season. After his mother suffered from a medical issue, Polee made the decision to transfer from the Big Apple back to the west coast. He eventually decided to play for legendary coach Fisher at San Diego State University. That adversity Polee would face during his younger collegiate years would better prepare him for the road ahead.
Determined to get back on the floor, Polee would train hard despite his ailing heart. Almost exactly two months since his collapse in December, he would finally be cleared to play by medical staff. In his first game back against San Jose State on Feb. 21, Polee would fuel a San Diego State run and would knock down a triple. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Polee will play in his second game back tonight against Boise State, the team he hit the game winning shot against just a year ago. He has a great deal of support around him — Polee said, “I’m just grateful for this opportunity to have this second chance to complete the season. I had a lot of positive people in my corner, my family, my girlfriend, my teammates, the coaches, the whole training staff and my Bible. I just stayed positive through the whole thing, and that’s what got me through.” He isn’t the same freshman who once traveled across the country to play basketball, which is evident by his mature comment and humble attitude.
Polee hasn’t concealed his ailing heart condition. Instead, he’s revealed heart by making his return to the basketball court.
James Szuba is a college basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesSzuba.