Ryan Carters was the dux of his school in his final year and he is now working his way to the head of the class in NSW cricket.
Away from the game it's the works of American writer Henry David Thoreau that make him tick but on the field it's the lessons from the "watchful and insightful" Brad Haddin that have helped Carters be the surprise packet in the first half of this Shield season.
The chance to work with Australia's premier gloveman was one of the reasons Carter, 23, made the move north from Victoria during the winter.
It is proving an astute signing by Cricket NSW as Carters is the Blues' leading run-scorer this summer. His 409 runs at 81.8 does not factor in his 94 against England last month, which preceded the excellent start to his career wearing the baggy blue.
As a wicketkeeper-batsman who grew up in Canberra, it was only natural for Carters to count Haddin as one of his role models.
It appears the uncomplicated approach Haddin has also helped inspire Carters to success.
"Brad always emphasises really focusing on the basics and the fact if you can trust in your basic technique and game plan that you bring then you'll naturally be able to cope with the more difficult situations that you come across," Carters said.
"That's the greatest message he's given to me. What that means is working really hard on those basics. For 'keeping that means a good solid technique and continually drilling it again and again.
"He just emphasises if you work hard at training you will naturally develop a trust and confidence which will allow you to be mentally strong when you need to be."
There are few minds in Australian cricket as well trained as Carters', who was dux of Canberra's Radford College in 2008.
When he is not thinking about line and length he is reading his favourite author Thoreau, a 19th-century transcendentalist philosopher, and analysing Weberian sociology and Keynesian economics as part of his arts degree at Sydney University.
"The reason I liked to study all of it is I see it as all intimately related. To study anything without an understanding of the others would potentially be limiting," Carters said.
"I'm interested in the way they all intersect, and how ethical concerns should really underlie political thinking. And political thinking in turn shapes economic decision making – that's how I'd explain it."
Reading Thoreau has given him an appreciation of "the small moments and the beauty around us", which, translated to the cricket field, helps eliminate distractions.
"When it comes to cricket it means focusing in on the next ball and what the bowler's about to do instead of thinking about fears of getting out in the next five minutes or what happened the previous ball," Carters said.
"It's like the old joke, 'don't think about a pink elephant'. And then naturally you can't help but think of a pink elephant.
"If you're telling yourself not to get out or not to nick off it makes it more likely you will. I find it important to think about more positive things like focusing on the ball and the shots you do want to play."