Damian Lillard had a four-year standout career at Weber State, including a senior season where averaged 24.4 points per game and became fifth all-time leading scorer in Big Sky conference history.
His collegiate success paid off last Summer when the Portland Trail Blazers made him the sixth-overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft and signed to a two-year contract worth more than $6.2 million (according to Spotrac).
Portland is quickly getting its money's worth only nine games into Lillard's young career.
In his debut, Lillard scored 23 points and provided 11 assists and continued his success by scoring at least 20 points in his next two starts. It has been more than a solid start to his career, but a somewhat historic one (according to the Trail Blazers via Twitter).
Damian Lillard is the first NBA player with at least 20 points in six of his first nine career games since Allen Iverson in 1996.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) November 17, 2012
In his latest headline-worthy performance, he led the Blazers to an overtime victory over the Houston Rockets by nailing a three-point shot to tie the game with just over three minutes remaining in overtime.
Lillard finished with a career-high 27 points as the Blazers escaped with a 119-117 victory over Houston. It's the Blazers' second-consecutive win and the their first win streak of the season.
Damian Lillard and the Season Outlook
Damian Lillard is now averaging 19.3 points and 6.4 assists per game, making him a dangerous weapon nine games into his career.
Is Damian Lillard the real deal or a flash in the pan?
Portland is sitting with a modest 4-5 record at the moment and has the misfortune of being in the same division at Oklahoma City, but the future is clearly bright if Lillard continues his development.
Lillard is the highest scoring rookie at the moment, beating out the second-place Dion Waiters (14.5) by a sizable 4.8 points per game.
As a result, it's easy to jump the gun and get swept away in premature Rookie of the Year talk, but with over 70 games still remaining on the schedule, there will be challenges in the future.
Lillard is fresh and new. Sometimes a player benefits from not having a history in the league. Once opponents begin to observe Lillard and grow accustomed to his form and habits, we'll see how he responds and get a better reading on his true capabilities.
But for now, Lillard is giving Portland fans a lot to be excited about.