Kevin Vannatta took almost two months off after graduating from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, mostly to decompress before beginning the next phase of his life.

Vannatta spent some time reflecting on the previous four years, during which his successes playing college basketball far surpassed his expectations.

After leading the Upper Arlington High School boys team to the cusp of the Division I state championship as a senior in 2014, Vannatta ended his Bulldogs career having scored 1,234 points with 574 rebounds and 378 assists while becoming the program's all-time leader in games played (130) and minutes (4,165).

"It absolutely exceeded my expectations," said Vannatta, who graduated from UNC-Asheville on May 12 and began a two-year rotational program at JPMorgan Chase on July 11. "I just wanted to have an opportunity (to play in college) and take advantage of that.

"From the beginning, my coach (Nick McDevitt) wanted me to be a leader, a role model for the team. He knew that was the role I had at UA. I was definitely nervous at the start, but we always had pretty young teams. We won 20 games three years in a row. We got to the NCAA tournament once. It was a fun run."

Vannatta was named Big South Conference Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 by College Sports Madness after he averaged 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He started all 30 games as a sophomore, leading the conference in minutes (1,122) while shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line as the Bulldogs made the NCAA tournament, losing to eventual national champion Villanova 86-56 in the first round.

As a junior, he averaged 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists. This past season, he averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists to lead UNC-Asheville to its third consecutive 20-win season and was named third-team Academic All-American and Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Vannatta played every position except center in college.

"Kevin Vannatta is a winner. We could tell that when we were recruiting him," McDevitt, who now coaches Middle Tennessee State, told the Asheville Citizen-Times in December 2016, shortly before the Bulldogs visited Ohio State and hung in until the end of a 79-77 loss. "He would play in three AAU games per day and would play hard in every game. You could see Kevin would do whatever it takes to help his team win, and that's what he's done for us."

Vannatta saved his best for last with the Golden Bears, averaging 24.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in his final five games as UA reached its first state tournament since 1939. The Bears lost to Lakewood St. Edward 62-58 in overtime in the final, and Vannatta -- who averaged 17.7 points, six rebounds and 2.3 steals as a senior -- was named first-team all-state.

Vannatta still keeps in close touch with UA coach Tim Casey and several former teammates, including Harrison Heath, Danny Hummer and Logan Richter.

Hummer played for two seasons at Air Force before transferring to Ohio State in August 2017. He will be eligible to play this fall as a junior after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules.

"I still play pickup games with those guys sometimes," Vannatta said. "What we accomplished was very special."

Vannatta also represented the Big South on the NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was on the NCAA's men's basketball oversight committee.

Vannatta is participating in the corporate investment banking portion of JPMorgan Chase's Computer Analysis Development Program for the next eight months. The other two phases of his three-part rotation are not yet determined.

Vannatta considered but ultimately decided against becoming a lawyer like his parents. His father, Mark, is a partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, and his mother, Julie, is general counsel for Ohio State's athletics department.

"After school ended, I just wanted to lay low for a little bit and get ready for my future," he said. "I'm excited for the next phase to get started."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave