CLEMSON -- If a health condition had not prematurely ended his college basketball playing career, Josh Postorino imagines he would hold a stale sales job.
"Come to think of it, I'm still in sales," Postorino said.
His clients figure to shape the future of Clemson basketball.
Postorino was promoted last week to the coaching staff after previously serving as the team's director of operations. He replaces Florida-bound Shaka Smart, who had developed a niché as an ace recruiter.
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With the Tigers looking to expand on a breakthrough season and earn a consistent spot atop the ACC, Postorino faces the challenge of continuing to upgrade the team's talent.
Perhaps most importantly, he inherits the recruiting trail in North Carolina and Georgia -- along with Washington, D.C., the most fertile grounds on coach Oliver Purnell's recruiting map.
Purnell said he only needs to recall witnessing Postorino's rapid return from brain surgery to affirm his belief that he made the right hire.
"I've seen him show uncommon tenacity, perseverance and courage," Purnell said. "Plus, it seems to me when we have him around, success follows."
Postorino was the first player Purnell signed as Dayton's coach in 1995, having been lured out of Clearwater, Fla., by current N.C. State assistant Pete Strickland and signing with the Flyers over Furman, William & Mary and Navy.
Before Postorino's junior season, he began experiencing spurts of mild disorientation and blurry vision and underwent a gamut of tests, even for dementia.
An MRI revealed a cyst on one of his brain membranes -- something he probably had since birth.
This cyst was lined up against an optic nerve, so when it filled with fluid, it pressed against the nerve and disrupted his sight.
The condition was not life-threatening, but it was troublesome enough that Postorino elected to undergo brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic.
He missed the season's first eight games but returned, helping guide Dayton to a share of the Atlantic 10 title. But before the Flyers were to begin play in the postseason NIT, Postorino started experiencing symptoms again. Depth perception on his shot was off, and he had spells during class in which he struggled to concentrate.
Postorino sat out the rest of the season, and doctors told him he would have to undergo another brain surgery if he wanted to continue playing.
He decided to hang it up, but Purnell wanted to make sure Postorino still had an activity to sink his teeth into.
"Coach Purnell is a loyal person, and when you work hard for him, he rewards you for it," Postorino said.
So Purnell kept Postorino on scholarship and gave him a spot on the bench as a student assistant coach, involving Postorino in daily coaching functions.
"I thought it was going to be a storybook ending," Purnell said. "Then to see the cyst fill back up again, it wasn't the way the story was supposed to end. But the story continues."
Postorino dressed out on senior night and started Dayton's final home game in what Purnell termed one of the emotional highlights of his career.
After a one-year venture into the business world, Postorino returned to Dayton to serve as Purnell's director of basketball operations and largely has remained under Purnell's coaching branch since.
He was to join Clemson's staff as an assistant upon Purnell's arrival in 2003, but he jumped at the chance to serve as the right-hand man on the new Marshall staff headed by Ron Jirsa, Purnell's top assistant at Dayton.
When Jirsa was fired after the 2007 season, Postorino was to be South Florida's operations director under Stan Heath before Purnell had the same opening.
Strangely enough, the symptoms of the cyst disappeared after college, and Postorino said doctors were never able to pinpoint exactly why.
He has run two marathons since. And he appears attached to Purnell for the long haul.
"(The health condition) was bad timing -- you only get a few years to play Division I basketball -- but it got me where I'm at now," Postorino said. "Things happen for a reason that way."