BLOOMINGTON - A basketball in hand and a smile on the face.
That's how Adam Dauksas has spent much of his four years at Illinois Wesleyan.
And knowing what to do with that basketball has secured Dauksas' place among the top point guards ever to don the Titans' uniform.
"I didn't know it would go by this fast but it has," said Dauksas, who leads IWU against Augustana in the CCIW Tournament at Rock Island today at 8 p.m. "I put my heart and all I could into this. I have no regrets either way."
That is because Dauksas' approach - both in season and out - leaves no room for regrets.
"Adam is the heart and soul of this team when it comes to his competitiveness," Wesleyan coach Scott Trost said. "He brings a lot of passion and energy to the game. You know what you're going to get every game with Adam."
The school's career leader in assists with 541, Dauksas has scored 1,381 points as a four-year starter to rank 12th on IWU's all-time list.
"I don't know if I had any goals," Dauksas said of his 2002 arrival on campus. "I play basketball because I love it. A lot. I knew if I had the opportunities that Coach gave me, I would make the most of it.
"I knew the records and awards would come because it's such a great program, and I had such great players around me. I knew if I continued to work hard, good things would happen and it did."
After being named a second team all-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin selection as a sophomore, Dauksas moved up to first team and earned the league's Most
Outstanding Player award as a junior.
He was the Midwest Region Player of the Year and a first team All-American. This season, he is among 16 national finalists for the Cousy Award, honoring the top point guard in all divisions.
"He does everything well," said senior teammate and close friend Keelan Amelianovich. "He always wants to get better. That's the sign of a good player. Coming in as a freshman, he was really talented and now he's a much better player because of all the work he's put in."
Dauksas started as a freshman on a senior-dominated team and had 21 points in an NCAA Tournament victory over Washington University.
"I don't think I was as good of a playmaker as I am now when I first came here," Dauksas said. "I think I'm a lot better shooter than when I came. I worked on that a lot over the summers and in the off season. I think I'm a lot more confident in my game now.
"I don't really worry about a whole lot. I feel that I can do kind of what I please out there. That's from putting in long hours, trying to make myself the best I could."
After a 9.3 scoring average as a freshman, Dauksas scored 13.8 as a sophomore and 15.1 as a junior. He is currently averaging 14.2 points and a CCIW-leading 6.7 assists.
"He's had a fabulous career. His record is going to speak for itself," Trost said. "I've stated all along I think he's the best point guard in the country at this level."
Dauksas and Trost have enjoyed a close relationship through three CCIW championships.
"I love the guy. I knew I was going to love him from the first time I met him," Dauksas said. "He believed in me and I believed in him. It was kind of like a two-way street. Even if he was yelling at me, I still knew he wanted to win and I wanted to win. We're both passionate about it and it's been successful."
Trost often directs his displeasure at Dauksas if the Titans are floundering on the court.
"People see me yelling at Adam, but Adam is an extension of me on the floor. So I expect a lot out of him," said the IWU coach. "I'm demanding of him, but Adam doesn't want it any other way. He's a tough, hard-nosed competitor. He's a kid you want on your side.
"I don't know if I've ever been closer to a player."
Dauksas considers his job simply "to get a win. That's the bottom line. That's the only thing I'm thinking about the entire time until that final buzzer goes off. That's the biggest stat, the stat I wanted to focus on most when I came here.
"There's no better compliment than saying you played hard and you were a winner. If I can do that and people remember that, I think I accomplished a lot."
Parents Jay and Linda Dauksas have missed few games in four seasons.
"They are there for anything. That was a big factor in where I wanted to go to college. I knew they wanted to be a part of my career and they have been," Dauksas said. "It's been great. I love them for that, and I think they've enjoyed it."
Dauksas, who ranks fourth in IWU history with 194 3-pointers and sixth in free throws made at 351, remembers one particular bit of advice from his father while growing up.
"He said if I wanted to be good at something, I had to work really hard at it," said the 6-foot-3 Flossmoor native. "That's always been in the back of my mind, even now when I go shoot."
Brian Martin, who held the Wesleyan career assist record before Dauksas surpassed him, called Dauksas "fearless. He's got that confidence and everybody's got confidence in him. He sees the court so well and seems to pick his spots so well.
"What really put him over the top in my mind was watching him go head-to-head with Dee Brown in that U of I (exhibition) game. If you're ever going to blink, that's when it's going to be. He just went right after him."
Dauksas denies feeling any pressure from the high expectations this season's IWU team has faced from the beginning.
"This has been so much fun. We all love to play basketball so much," he said. "This isn't pressure. There are people who have disabilities and can't walk. That's pressure. This is just fun. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just foolish."
Dauksas has been accepted to law school at Valparaiso and will begin his studies to become a lawyer if an opportunity to continue his basketball career does not arise.
"Something where I could compete and be in a courtroom and try to produce a winner and a loser," he said of a potential career in law. "I don't think I could go some place where I don't win or lose."