While all of his teammates are on the two- or three- or four-year plan, he's on the six-week plan.
While their future is the actual future, his future is now.
For that and other intensely personal reasons, Cal forward Markhuri Sanders-Frison is playing every minute for all it's worth.
On a 13-man basketball roster, Sanders-Frison is the lone senior and, therefore, the only member assured of missing out on any fruits from the labors of what might be classified as a developmental season in Berkeley.
"The clock is ticking," he said after leading Cal to an 85-77 victory over Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.
This season and these next few weeks are the final statements of Sanders-Frison's college basketball career. And nobody has to remind him.
"As far as college basketball goes, the number of guaranteed games is nine, plus one in the Pac-10 tournament," he said.
If his work against the Ducks is any indication, Sanders-Frison, 22, is committed to mining every minute of every game. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound forward finished with a career-high 18 points, missing only 1 of 7 shots from the field, grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot.
"I was getting some easy shots and I just took 'em," he said. "When the game comes to me like that, I try to do what I need to do for my teammates."
His production, over 27 high-energy minutes, was mostly a matter of using his sturdy physique to create
There also was, for Sanders-Frison, a personal subtext. Inasmuch as the victory resulted in a Bears sweep of the Oregon schools -- they beat Oregon State on Thursday -- silencing the Ducks was a delightful conclusion to a satisfying week for young man who grew up in Portland, Ore.
That's where he began his basketball odyssey, running the playgrounds from the time he was 8 or 9 years old. Sanders-Frison played at Jefferson High, a 6-5 post man with profound court smarts, a gift for passing and a weight problem -- the needle on the scale often hovered around the 300-pound mark.
But love of the game kept him going. It took him from Jefferson all the way to the other coast, to Hebron Prep school in Maine. Then on to Eastern Arizona, a junior college in tiny Thatcher, before the coach who recruited him was fired and Sanders-Frison transferred to South Plains JC in a place called Levelland, Texas.
Cal assistant Jay John, a former head coach at Oregon State, was familiar with Sanders-Frison and helped recruit him to Cal in the fall of 2009.
It was a long road, a hard road, a road on which Sanders-Frison found ways to control his weight while cultivating his game. Moreover, it was a road he never once thought of abandoning.
That brings us to another layer of his textured story. And this layer may have as much impact on Markhuri's urgency as his short-time status.
Sanders-Frison wore jersey No. 45 last season because the number he wanted -- 10 -- was being worn by senior guard Jerome Randle, who now is Cal's all-time leading scorer. With Randle gone, Sanders-Frison requested and received his desired number.
He wears No. 10 because that's the number his childhood friend, Eddie Barnett, wore at Grant High-Portland. Barnett was a 5-8 guard with obvious leadership ability and a burning desire to succeed. He was in some ways like Randle.
Barnett never played college ball, never even completed his prep career. After scoring six points in the first quarter of a game in February 2005, he came off the floor for a substitution, collapsed and, maybe a half-hour later, was pronounced dead. He was 16.
He suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the same condition that in 1990 took the life of Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers.
"We knew each other since third grade," Sanders-Frison said of Barnett. "I think about him all the time. That's one reason why I'm treating every game like it's my last."
There's a fury to his game; his emotions are never far from the surface. During a crucial point late in the game Saturday, when Sanders-Frison and the crowd at Haas sensed Cal finally had beaten back the resilient Ducks, he unleashed a scream.
It was a victory roar. The clock was ticking on Oregon, and Sanders-Frison reveled in knowing his teammates had completed another lesson, one they could take into next season and beyond.
As for Sanders-Frison, he'll take the lesson with him into February and March and, after that, along for his next voyage into the Great Hoops Unknown.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cal races out to big lead, then holds on. Page 4
Arizona St. (9-12, 1-8 Pac-10) at Cal (12-9, 5-4), 8 p.m., CSNBA