When he was a sophomore in high school at Marshall County, Kedren Johnson's first college offer came from Tennessee.
He didn't bite, and five years later a game was in his hands as he drove to the basket in Thompson-Boling Arena to beat the Vols and the buzzer.
He beat the buzzer Tuesday night, but not the Vols.
"We got exactly what we wanted,'' Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "It worked out perfectly, with the exception of the ball going in the basket.''
Johnson's driving shot rimmed off, as did a follow-up tip. Tennessee survived, 58-57.
I suspect the fact that Johnson terrorized the Vols throughout the second half, spearheading a rally from an 11-point deficit, will trigger a re-evaluation of his recruitment among the forums available to UT fans.
Here is a 6-foot-4 sophomore point guard, an in-state product, leading the rival Commodores to the brink of an upset in Thompson-Boling.
Johnson averaged 27.3 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as a senior at Marshall County, which lies 50 miles south of Nashville toward the Alabama state line. He was Class 2A Mr. Basketball.
Not that UT couldn't use a 6-4 in-state point guard who can score — and had the academic credentials to get into Vandy.
"I don't remember when we offered,'' said Stallings, "sometime in his junior year.
"There were us, these guys (Tennessee), Louisville, Florida, Georgia Tech, Memphis. Lots of people tried.''
UT surely had a foot in the door. Johnson's dad Curtis played baseball at UT in the early 1980s. Marcus Haislip, another Marshall County product who used UT as a springboard to the NBA draft, is a cousin.
Johnson visited Florida, Memphis, UT, Alabama and Louisville. He signed with Vandy in November of his senior year, five months before Cuonzo Martin replaced Bruce Pearl.
Vanderbilt vs Tennessee, Jan. 30, 2013
"It was a family decision,'' Johnson said. "We was gonna pick whatever was the best fit for me. "Coach Stallings recruited me harder than any other coaches did.''
It's not that Johnson didn't have interest in the Vols. But there were "some things going on.''
In Johnson's junior year, Tyler Smith was kicked off UT's team in midseason. Smith was virtually a neighbor back home in Middle Tennessee.
Then came the NCAA investigation that eventually led to UT firing Pearl — the guy who offered Johnson his first scholarship.
Curtis Johnson, the old Vol baseballer, was insistent on not influencing his son's decision.
"I didn't want him to feel obligated to come to Tennessee because of me,'' said Curtis, who watched the game from behind the Vandy bench.
"I knew Tennessee wasn't going to be down long. They've got a reputation of getting a great coach.''
But in the end, Curtis was pleased his son chose Vanderbilt. Fifty miles isn't much of a drive to watch him play. The Knoxville drive comes only once a year.
Johnson was scoreless in the first half, saddled with two early fouls. The second half was a different story. He scored 14 points, virtually all by getting to the rim.
"That's what got us back in the game,'' said Stallings. "He broke down the defense.''
On Vandy's ultimate possession he broke down the Vols again, powering down the lane with defender Brandon Lopez in lock step. It was a scene played out between the two many times in summer camps, but never for these stakes.
This night, the shot would not go down.
But the saga of Johnson and the Vols isn't over. There will be other games, other shots to come.