The first time Craig Robinson saw Jared Cunningham on the basketball court, his reaction was disappointment.
"I thought, 'Oh shoot, I'm wasting my time. This kid is too good for us,'" recalled Robinson, who was the coach at Brown University at the time. "That happens a lot in the Ivy League."
Cunningham, a guard at San Leandro High, went on to give Arizona State an oral commitment, which isn't binding.
By last fall, Robinson was the coach at Oregon State, and Cunningham and ASU had mutually decided to part ways. Robinson jumped on his second chance to grab Cunningham.
"I can't tell you how happy we are to have him," Robinson said.
The feeling is mutual. Cunningham, who said he wasn't old enough last November to vote for Robinson's brother-in-law, President Barack Obama, said he settled on Oregon State because of the chemistry he felt with the players and coaches.
"It's like another home to me," Cunningham said of his time in Corvallis, Ore.
OSU has a largely veteran team returning from last year, when the Beavers rebounded from going winless in the Pac-10 in 2007-08 to 7-11 in Robinson's debut season.
Cunningham, who averaged 20.4 points last season as a senior at San Leandro, is regarded by most coaches as a combo guard, but he likely will play point guard for the Beavers.
"What people don't realize is he's got the ability to be a general on the court," Robinson said. "When I saw him in high school, I thought he had a nice basketball IQ. He's mature and he's calm.
"He's just been tremendous. He's certainly going to warrant (playing) time, and a lot of it."
Robinson said Cunningham's quickness and athletic ability provide a dimension the Beavers need, adding that Cunningham is already good enough defensively to play in the Pac-10.
At 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Cunningham is the team's lightest player, giving up 20 pounds to senior Josh Tarver, the Beavers' starting point guard.
"It's been different. They're a lot stronger (in college)," Cunningham said. "I'm holding my own."