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Colorado quarterback Shane Dillon quits football to pursue hoops

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Shane Dillon (Rivals.com)

The day Shane Dillon gave up basketball to focus on football two years ago, his AAU coach Marshawn Cherry admits he was disappointed.

"It was a little surprising," Cherry said. "Late in his junior year, he told me at a tournament in Las Vegas he was going to focus on basketball and he ended up getting like seven scholarship offers that weekend. Then the following Tuesday, he changed his mind and ended up committing to Colorado to play football instead."

It took more than two years and plenty of sleepless nights, but Dillon is ready to reverse course on that decision. The Colorado quarterback announced Tuesday he will leave the program, quit football and pursue basketball at another school.

What prompted the change of heart was Dillon missed basketball during his year away from the sport.

A lifelong basketball player who averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds his junior season at Christian High School in El Cajon, Calif., Dillon didn't begin to take football seriously until he found success at quarterback midway through his sophomore year. Scholarship offers from the likes of Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Arizona poured in after his junior season in football, so the strong-armed 6-foot-5 Dillon decided he had a brighter future on the gridiron.

"I always kind of felt my decision that I had to play football was forced upon me a little bit," Dillon said in a statement. “People told me I had to make a decision by the end of my junior year between football and basketball because quarterbacks all seemed to commit pretty early. Basketball has always been my passion, and even though I really enjoyed my year here, I felt the time is now for me to make the change."

Had Dillon made a more immediate impact for the struggling Colorado football program, perhaps he'd have been less likely to turn back to basketball. Instead he spent most of last season recovering from right shoulder surgery and concluded spring practice third on the depth chart behind Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman, though Hirschman left the program in May to transfer to Akron.

Even though Dillon hasn't played competitive basketball in over a year, he told Cherry he has regularly played in pickup games since football season ended and he's bigger, stronger and faster than he was in high school. That made it easy for Cherry to offer encouragement when Dillon called Friday and asked for his former coach's blessing about giving hoops another try.

"He's a wing with good size and the ability to shoot, handle and pass it," Cherry said. "He's a very good passer and from what he told me he's in shape and he played pretty much every day at the gym at Colorado, so he should still be a pretty darn good player."

Dillon initially asked Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle about joining the team, but the Buffs coach had no scholarships available and Dillon didn't want to walk-on. As a result, he'll participate in some showcase events this summer in hopes of finding another Division I school interested in giving him a second chance to pursue basketball.

Among the basketball programs interested in Dillon after his junior year of high school were San Diego, UC Irvine and Holy Cross. Cherry is confident Dillon will find some more suitors the next few weeks now that he has finally made a decision between his two passions.

"He was always pulled in two directions between basketball and football and he was never sure what his love was," Cherry said. "I think after a year away from basketball, he actually missed it and he realized what he had given up."

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