Amile Jefferson had never played at the Wells Fargo Center before.
The last time he was in the building, Jefferson was a spectator, watching No. 3 Duke get upset by Temple, 78-73, on Jan. 4, 2012.
Jefferson was a senior at Friends' Central then, fielding offers from some of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country. A little more than a month later, he scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools boys' basketball tournament final, helping the Phoenix win their fourth straight title.
But on Friday, Jefferson took to the Wells Fargo Center court for the first time and received some early playing time in the Blue Devils' 73-61 win over Albany in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Jefferson, who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia idolizing 76ers guard Allen Iverson, said he associates the Wells Fargo Center with the memories he gathered as a kid growing up in a basketball city.
"I have been to many Sixers games, Villanova games, Temple games," Jefferson said. "I've been in this building a bunch - just never played here. So for us to get a win, it's something special."
In attendance at the game was Jefferson's father, Malcolm, his mother, Quetta, his grandmother, his two aunts, his siblings, his high school coach, his AAU coach, and many of his friends, Jefferson said.
Jefferson and his family said the chance for him to compete in his first NCAA tourney game in Philadelphia was an added benefit.
"It's surreal and it's wonderful," Quetta Jefferson said. "I'm so glad to have him back here and to have this chance to watch him play - to see it live, to see how he's grown."
Jefferson's parents said they watch all of his games on TV and attend as many of them as they can. They were at Duke's 90-67 win against Temple at the Izod Center in Newark, N.J., on Dec. 8, and Malcolm Jefferson said he has been to more than half of the Blue Devils' games this season.
"I've gotten the opportunity to get out and see him," he said. "I wish I could have done more, though."
"It's always special playing in front of them," Amile Jefferson said. "They get to catch all of our games on TV, but seeing them after the game, seeing them cheering for our team during the game is definitely something special and something I love."
Jefferson has shown potential at times this season, averaging 12 minutes per game for the Blue Devils, but his playing time has gone down of late with the return of senior forward Ryan Kelly from injury.
Jefferson scored a career-high 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in a 90-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 23. The next game, Jefferson scored 11 points and had nine rebounds in an 84-64 home win against Maryland. But in the five games since Kelly returned from a right foot injury, Jefferson has played a combined eight minutes.
Jefferson played four minutes against Albany and did not make it onto the stat sheet.
"He's adjusted," said Malcolm Jefferson, who played at Delaware State from 1992-94. "He's doing well, working on getting stronger, and hopefully next year he'll see more of the court."
A 2012 McDonald's all-American at Friends' Central, Jefferson was ranked as the No. 25 recruit in the country in his class by ESPN.com.
Jefferson finished his high school career with 1,569 points, 839 rebounds and 189 blocks and helped lead Friends' Central to four consecutive Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament titles.