Shortly after returning home from an official visit to Illinois, Mario Little knew that it was only a matter of time before he committed to Kansas. However, before going public with his decision, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward from Chipola Junior College in Marianna, FL., wanted to wait a couple of days before making it official. On Sunday afternoon, Jayhawk Slant broke the news that Little had become the second player from the class of 2008 to commit to the Jayhawks.
"All three (Kansas, Kansas State and Illinois) schools were great and that's what took me so long to decide," said Little. "I'm really excited about my decision to go to Kansas.
"I really like coach Bill Self, the coaching staff and the players," he added. "It'll be another chapter in my life."
Little's lifelong dream of playing Division I basketball became a reality on Sunday evening. However, it might have taken longer than expected to achieve that very goal.
During his freshman campaign at Chipola Junior College, Little averaged 10-points and six rebounds per game off the bench.
Little actually made a name for himself after putting together some impressive performances throughout the spring and summer. While several high-major programs showed a high amount of interest in the junior college prospect, Little ultimately decided to trim his list of schools to three.
When the dust finally settled, Kansas, Kansas State and Illinois were the three programs left standing. To his credit, Little visited all three programs before putting an end to his recruitment on Sunday afternoon.
Up first for Little was a trip to Kansas during the weekend of September 7. Little took a trip to Kansas State the following weekend and, after a week off, he finished up by visiting Illinois during the weekend of September 28.
"For me, it was all about winning," said Little. "I wanted to go to a place where we can win every year. I actually decided in the middle of the week, but I wanted to sleep on it. This is the best decision for me.
"I picked Kansas because I think it's a great spot," he added. "It has good tradition and great fans. It's a great program and they win. This is the best decision for me."
When talking about his past, Little said playing college basketball at Kansas never seriously entered his mind when he was growing up. His hard work and dedication to the game have, without question, paid off for Little, one of the top junior college prospects in his class.
Furthermore, not many expected the Chicago native to one day don the Crimson and Blue uniform. Little told Jayhawk Slant that playing college basketball at Kansas is a dream come true.
"Growing up, I never thought I'd be playing at Kansas," said Little. "I've really worked hard, and I'm really excited about the next chapter in my life once I get there."
"Yes (it feels good) because a lot of people never thought of me playing at Kansas," he added. "Every basketball player would love to play at Kansas. It is a dream come true. When I was little I thought I could be real good. I never thought I'd be at Kansas. It will really be fun."
Little certainly has the ability and skill to play a number of positions on the court. He is the type player that can score and rebound the basketball. However, he's will to do whatever it takes to help Kansas win.
Self and his staff spent a lot of time recruiting Little
According to Little, winning basketball games, not scoring or rebounding, is his biggest goal.
"I do think I can do a lot of things," he said. "I can pretty much do anything, but I want to do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do. My strengths are scoring and rebounding. I like to rebound. I am not a selfish player. I will do whatever it takes to win. Last year we had a lot of bodies. I think I proved I will do what coach wants. I was happy to come off the bench, get some rebounds, block some shots, whatever it takes. I'm not selfish. Whatever I need to do I'll do it.
"I just want to have an undefeated season at Chipola and I want to win the national championship and go on with my career to Kansas," he added. "I am relieved that I've made a decision and I can actually think now."
Winning games and competing for a National Championship was a major factor when Little made his decision, but it wasn't the only factor. During his official visit to Kansas, the talented small forward was able to get a good feel for the coaching staff, players and environment.
During his time on campus, Little was impressed with the passion KU fans demonstrated and how so many people knew who he was during his weekend visit. Spending time with Self was also a big plus for Little.
"Yes I could really tell that KU fans love basketball," he said. "I was impressed at how many people would come up to you. They love basketball. Coach Self is real cool and he is a great guy. When I told him about my decision to commit to Kansas he was very excited.
"When I first came in for a visit, I loved the players, fans, coaches," he added. "I was ready to commit, but you can't commit on your visit. You have to see the other schools. All three schools were great schools. That's what took me so long. I will try to get better every day and work on my game, try to win a national title."