In his first game as a freshman at Weber State in 2008, Damian Lillard came off the bench and scored five points in the Wildcats' 70-66 loss to Miami (Ohio).
The next night, in the second game of the 2K Sports Classic tournament at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, Lillard contributed eight points and three assists in a Weber State victory over Prairie View A&M.
In Game 3 of the 2008 season, the Oakland, Calif., native went 1 for 9 from the field and scored seven points for the Wildcats as Long Beach State rallied from a 23-point second-half deficit to beat Weber State in overtime.
Lillard's totals after three games as a freshman: 20 points, five rebounds and six assists while shooting 30 percent from the field.
Damian's totals after one game in the NBA: 23 points, six rebounds and 11 assists while helping the Blazers knock off the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 31 and matching Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players to total 20 points and 10 assists in their rookie debut.
Next, he scored 21 points and dished seven assists against Oklahoma City on Nov. 2, then added 20 points, eight in overtime, and nine assists as the Blazers held off the Rockets on Saturday.
Lillard leads all NBA rookies in scoring, while he and Robertson are the only players in NBA history to notch at least 20 points and seven assists in their first three games.
Ultimately, Lillard's averages after three games in the NBA are as irrelevant to his long-term professional career as his first three games at Weber State were to his collegiate career.
Damian was first-team All-Big Sky Conference in his freshman year and was named league MVP in his next two full seasons, but Portland's choice to take him as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft came as a surprise to some who felt he hadn't faced much competition in the Big Sky.
After all, as Fox Sports columnist Chris Thomasson pointed out on Twitter, Lillard has already scored more points than in the entire careers of four of previous five Weber State players in the NBA.
But for someone who has made a career out of disproving doubters, Lillard's torrid start shows he belongs on the same court as NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Kevin Durant and James Harden.
Who will be Weber State's next star -- or stars?
The Wildcats begin to find their way in the post-Lillard era tonight as they host Western State tonight in their only exhibition contest of the season.
Tipoff is at 8 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.
Seventh-year coach Randy Rahe and his staff will give fans the first look at the potential starting lineup for Weber State's season opener Friday night against Arizona Christian.
Weber State returns seven starters from a team that went 25-7 last season and took second place in the Big Sky Conference regular season with a 14-2 mark. The Wildcats were picked second by coaches and media in the Big Sky preseason polls.
Scott Bamforth and Frank "Mook" Otis are WSU's only two seniors after Lillard's early departure to the NBA. Junior forward Davion Berry, who hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range and led all scorers with 18 points in Weber State's Purple and White preseason scrimmage on Oct. 24, will make his official debut as a Wildcat after sitting out last season following a transfer from Cal State Monterey Bay, where he was a Division II all-American as a sophomore.
Sophomore center James Hajek is back after a knee injury ended his freshman season after 15 games, but junior forward Byron Fulton could be out one to two weeks after having his knee scoped recently.
Western State College is a Division II school located in Gunnison, Colo. The Mountaineers were 13-14 last season and finished eighth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
The men's game will be the second game of a Dee Events Center double-header as the Wildcats women play Adams State at 6 p.m. in their final exhibition contest.
Weber State's Wildcat Club luncheon will be held today at noon at the Ogden Marriott Hotel on 24th Street. The luncheons are open to the public; cost is $10 per person. For more information, call the Wildcat Club at 801-626-6576 or visit weberstatesports.com.
Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow @RoyBurton on Twitter, read more about the Wildcats at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog or reach him at email@example.com.