Temple's Shizz Alston Jr. always knew his time with coach Fran Dunphy was going to be limited to a four-season stint of basketball on North Broad Street.
That's the deal in college basketball – you can play for four years and then you move forward with your life.
What the senior guard did not anticipate when he signed with Temple out of Haverford School in 2015 was that he would end up being in the last senior class that Dunphy coaches for the Owls.
Temple assistant Aaron McKie is the coach in waiting and will take over for Dunphy next season. For now, Alston's goal is to help Dunphy go out in style by leading the Owls to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since his freshman season.
"Coach Dunphy has been so good to me and helped me develop," said Alston, who has started 65 consecutive games since the start of his sophomore season. "He has made me the team captain, and it means a lot to me that he would put that kind of trust in me, especially in his last season. I'll be his last captain."
It's an honor earned.
More in this series: Eric Paschall's job is to help things stay the same at Villanova | La Salle's Jeryn Reese looks to regain scoring touch in senior season | Lamarr Kimble is back leaner and ready to lead St. Joe's | Eleah Parker, fresh off rookie-of-the-year season, is looking to lead Penn women's basketball | Pookie Powell, back for one more season, is looking to win at La Salle | Bailey Greenberg wants to help Drexel jump from the WNIT to the Big Dance
Alston, whose father, Levon, starred at Temple in the mid-1990s, came in as the 81st-ranked player in his class by ESPN. But the transition from high school to Division I basketball can be difficult. He made three starts as a freshman, but averaged just 10.1 minutes and 2 points. But the marketing major did not let his struggles on the court affect him off the court, as he posted a grade-point average higher than 3.0 and made the athletic director's honor roll.
Alston's game blossomed in his sophomore season. He started all 33 games and averaged 36.4 minutes and 13.9 points, with 131 assists and 52 steals. He ranked 10th in scoring in the American Athletic Conference, made the All-Big 5 first team, and was named the Big 5's most improved player.
Last season, Alston averaged 13.3 points and had 102 assists and 48 steals.
"He's been such a terrific guy to coach," Dunphy said. "I think he's made really good strides over his first three years. I expect he will have another outstanding season this year."
As the Owls' primary ballhandler, Alston was going to be in a leadership role by default, but he also has that innate something that pushes him to the forefront of a team.
"In my sophomore year, Josh Brown got hurt, and ever since then, I think I've been looked at as the guy who was going to lead this team," Alston said. "This is the first year I've been officially named as captain, but I think I've always had a leadership role.
"The first thing is to make sure that I'm the one who is making the right decision so that the young guys will want to follow my lead.
"On the court, that means playing hard every possession and being super aggressive. Off the court, it's just helping to make sure guys make the right decisions, which is why I have to."
Alston remembers the excitement that comes with making it to the NCAA Tournament, and he wants to experience it once more with Dunphy before both of their careers at Temple conclude.
"I like this team," Alston said. "I think we're going to be pretty good. We've got a lot of guys who are returning. I think we can make some noise.