Could Jason Horton be the one?

Last year, Rob Evans and his staff went deep into the heart of Texas to nab schoolboy sensation Ike Diogu away from some of the biggest college programs in the nation. Now, elite 2004 point guard Jason Horton, also a product of the Lone Star State, is considering Arizona State among a handful of finalists vying for his services. DevilsDigest spoke with Team Texas AAU coach Daryl Horton about the latest developments in his son's recruitment.

With the AAU season seemingly just getting underway, Team Texas, one of the premier programs in the nation, has already competed in a number of prestigious events this spring. "We've played in five tournaments so far." says Coach Daryl Horton. "We've won three (events) and we've been to the Finals in another."

In just his second season at the helm, Daryl has built Team Texas into a program rated among the top 10 nationally by various publications including Prepstars. Playing alongside Jason are elite recruits such as Lemarcus Aldridge and Kevin Langford. Before heading up the Team Texas program, Daryl coached one of the Texas Blue Chips' teams and in doing so worked with current Arizona State players Ike Diogu, Allen Morill and incoming recruit Chris Low.

Not only is Daryl familiar with at least three current and future Sun Devils, but he's also familiar with Coach Rob Evans, as he worked with Evans' sister some years ago and he got to know the Sun Devils coach even better in the last few years as the Arizona State skipper recruited Jason's older brother Daniel, a player who was recently named Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten after a stellar first-year at Michigan.

Despite the numerous connections, landing a player of Jason's caliber is almost always going to be a difficult and competitive experience. In the last month alone, during April's open recruiting period, the consensus top 40 national player had a plethora of coaches from some of the best programs around the country flying from all across the nation into Texas for some face time. "He had quite a few, probably 12 or 13 schools came down to see him," according to Daryl.

Nonetheless, Jason is looking to make a decision sooner rather than later, and the experiences of Daniel and Daryl make the Horton family rather unusual in their savvy understanding of the process. "As far as me and what I'm looking for," says Daryl, "it's just for him to be comfortable, that's the only criteria I have. Obviously, he'll want to go somewhere that he can play a lot, and not necessarily start, but at least have a chance to start (early), and do some of the things like his brother's done at Michigan."

With players unable to take official visits until after the posting of an ACT or SAT score, Horton won't be able to make official visits until at least early summer, after he takes the test in June, but that isn't likely to be a major impediment in his coming to a decision according to Daryl. "I don't think he'll take all 5 (official visits). There's a definite possibility he could decide in the next couple of months. There's a possibility he may decide without taking any official visits. I don't think that taking official visits as far as we're concerned is a prerequisite."

So which schools are left in the race for the speedy point guard? Daryl says that "Arizona State, Missouri, Kansas, Florida State, Arkansas, (and) Michigan" are the teams that make up the final list as it currently stands. And while rumors have persisted that Missouri has been the clear leader for quite some time, Daryl dismisses those rumors as just that – rumors. "I wouldn't call them (Missouri) the leader, no more than Arizona State or Kansas or Florida State. I've seen that as well and it's not (accurate)."

While Horton has visited several of the schools on his list unofficially, Arizona State is not one of them. But that may change in the near future. Daryl says, "Yeah, we have something in the works right now. We should be coming out (to Tempe) sometime in the next month or so."

The though of a player of Jason's status making an unofficial trip to Tempe on his own dime is extraordinary, considering the fact that this is a player whom many experts believe to be a strong candidate for the McDonald's All-American game in 2004. Thus, landing Horton would, in some respects, be an even bigger accomplishment than the signing of Ike Diogu. The chances of Arizona State landing such a player only a few short years ago were almost non-existent. Now, only a year and a half after the signing of Diogu, the Sun Devils are deep in the running for a second legitimate blue chip star from Texas. While the signing of Diogu served notice around the country that the Devils had arrived, a commitment from a player such as Jason Horton could be the one that changes the landscape for good.

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