Marlon London was excited about returning to Lawrence for his sophomore season at Kansas.
But his eagerness to return to the Sunflower State soon halted when tragedy struck his family.
"A week before I came back to school my cousin was shot in the head going to the store," London said. "He was 17 and was going to get something to eat."
This wasn't the first time over the summer London had lost a loved one. He also lost a grandfather earlier.
While the recent death of two family members had saddened London, he said it has also reminded him to take advantage of every opportunity he has.
"Losing them gave me a different aspect on everything," London said. "Life's not promised, tomorrow is not promised. It just drives me to know they were behind me."
But tragedy wasn't the only thing that London was faced with over the summer -- he was faced with some pretty tough competition on the court in Chicago.
London took part in the Chicago Pro-Am League at the James Jordan Center. Playing in the Pro-Am, London had the opportunity to battle some fierce competitors such as Quentin Richardson and Bobby Simmons of DePaul, many European professional players, and Orlando Magic rookie Corey Maggette.
He said he definitely learned a thing or two about his game from playing in the Pro-Am.
"Playing against guys like that just taught me to go strong to the hoop and don't back down from anything." London said.
Entering season number two, London planned on entering his name into the mixture of players hunting for a starting spot at the shooting guard position. London said that was part of the motivation for working hard over the summer.
"It's important to me because I put in a lot of work over the summer to improve all aspects of my game," London said. "I'd be very disappointed in myself if I don't, but if I do, I'll be ready to do whatever it takes to win."
He said that although a starting spot isn't the most important thing to him, he feels the Jayhawk's offense this year should benefit the way he plays.
"We're definitely going to be a more athletic, running-type of team," London said. "I think we'll have a lot more to offer this year and this type of offense should give me more of a chance to make an impact."
London's contribution as a freshman was slow during most of the first month of the season. After averaging only a hand-full of minutes during that first month of games, London began to see his time on the court increase. He tallied the second most minutes off the bench last season and averaged 4.1 points per game during the regular season.
London also proved to be beneficial to the Jayhawks during the NCAA Tournament when he averaged 7.5 points in Kansas' two games.
"For me, last year I was put in certain situations and just had to learn to react and adapt to whatever it was." London said.
"Playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time, you try to be poised and relaxed and go at it like you at go anything."
London said he thought his play wasn't as consistent last year as he would like it to be and wants consistency to be a priority this year.
"I showed different flashes of things last year, but now I just have to do my thing to help this team win." London said.