The movie begins at a basketball game where we see Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) as the star of coach Goulding's (Martin Sheen) private school basketball team. Also on the team is Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett) who just happens to be the coach's son.
They win the game and qualify for the playoffs. Sitting in the stands at an assembly before the playoffs begin are Desi and Odin.
The coach calls up Odin to present him with an MVP trophy. The coach says he loves him like a son. Odin says he can't accept this without sharing it with his teammate... Michael (Andrew Keegan). This infuriates Hugo that first, his dad doesn't love him as much as he does Odin, and secondly, that his senior leadership and role as an all-around utility player on the team is going unrecognized.
He talks about this with his friend Roger who for some reason is very gullible to everything Hugo tells him.
Odin is dating the dean's daughter, Desi (Julia Stiles). He is the only black person at the all white school and is there strictly for his basketball skills. Desi is totally in love with Odin and he is very kind and gentle towards her. They haven't had sex yet but they do like to lay around together naked. He is so in love with her that he gives her an antique scarf that had been passed down in his family.
Hugo wants to be noticed. Just like Odin is the only black man in a white crowd, Hugo wants to be the Hawk in the middle of doves. (Their school mascot is also the Hawks)
Hugo decides the only way to get to Odin is to plant the seed of jealousy in his mind. With the use of his friend Roger they start a fight between Michael and Roger at a party where Roger gets beaten up. Michael gets kicked of the team by the coach.
Now all Michael can do is sit at the basketball games with Odin's girlfriend Desi and watch. Hugo points out to Odin that they're spending a lot of time together and hears that they have been secretly dating. Odin can't believe it and can't get it out of his mind.
Hugo tells Desi to talk to Odin about having Odin try to get Michael back on the team. The coach will listen to Odin.
Hugo just wants Odin to see that Desi is trying anything to help Michael.
One night while alone with Desi she tries to prove to him how much she loves him and they go off to a motel and she says he can do anything he wants to her. They start having sweet passionate sex but when he looks in the mirror at the two of them, he imagines Michael with her instead of him. Odin begins to get rougher and rougher as Desi pleads with him to stop. He keeps going until he has finished his business and the two just lie there, not saying a word to each other.
Hugo has Desi's roommate give Hugo the scarf and Hugo in turn gives it to Michael so he can give it to his girlfriend as a gift.
Later, Hugo tells Desi about a scarf that Michael had given his girlfriend. Odin is pissed and confronts Desi about it. She can't find it but says it'll turn up.
One night Hugo and Odin are discussing Michael at Hugo's dorm room. Hugo is telling him that Michael has admitted to him about sleeping with Desi and that they have been going out for a few months. Michael knocks on the door and Odin waits on the porch outside, listening to their conversation.
Hugo whispers something to Michael about his real girlfriend and Michael begins to brag about how much sex they have. Odin hears this and thinks he is talking about Desi.
He has been betrayed and has so much anger inside him he is ready to kill Michael... and Desi.
Hugo comes up with a plan that involves Roger shooting Michael but setting it up to look like a suicide and Odin strangling Desi, leaving a glass with Michael's fingerprints by her bed.
He trades his watch in for a handgun at a local pawn shop and the plan begins.
Hugo and Michael drive down a quiet road on the way to the big game and they pass by a broken down car (with Roger and handgun inside). They get out and MIchael goes to the driver (Roger) who is supposed to shoot him but he botches it up and Roger and Michael begin wrestling on the ground. Hugo runs up and clubs Michael with a tire iron and Roger shoots Michael in the leg. Hugo calls him an idiot for shooting him in the leg since it was supposed to look like a suicide. Hugo shoots and kills Roger and places the gun in Michael's hand. Michael's girlfriend drives by and sees what's happening and drives away. Hugo races back to the dorm to get Odin.
Meanwhile, Odin is in Desi's bedroom having small talk and pretending to make up with her when he suddenly begins strangling her. Its a long slow process as Desi struggles for her life but she finally dies as Hugo and Desi's roommate enter the room. The roommate can't believe what has happened and confronts Hugo. Hugo shoots and kills her. Michael's girlfriend is also there telling everyone that Hugo is the killer. Odin discovers that it was Hugo that stole the scarf that he has been duped by Hugo.
The police arrive and Odin says a little speech about what has happened and how someday they will all know he's innocent and that he is a good person. He then shoots himself.
The film ends as Hugo is being driven away, handcuffed in the back of a police car.
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