Early Recruiting Attention Paid Off with Coy

Despite his exceptional talent, playing for Benton High School in St. Joseph's, Mo. made it hard for Johnny Coy to get noticed by top tier colleges. Once his brother initiated contact with several schools, the interest in the small forward had spiked. Arizona State was the first school to reply to that email, offer a scholarship and the rest as they say was history.

"My brother Dickie sent out an email to schools before my junior year," recalled Coy. "He sent out the email like at 2 o'clock in the morning and (former ASU assistant) Coach Mark Phelps answered him right way. He flew out for a game without even seeing me play first. At halftime during that game he offered me a scholarship and ever since then Arizona State was always my #1 school."

As is the case with many recruits, the first offer a player receives usually causes avalanche of offers to follow. It certainly didn't hurt that Coy averaged 26.7 points, 12.1 boards, 4.9 blocks and 4.1 assists as a junior. Nebraska and Kansas were some of the schools that came to Coy's practices, and his recruitment from that point on only intensified.

"I committed to ASU before the summer AAU circuit," said Coy, "So all these different schools saw me playing (in the AAU tournaments) for the first time, knew I was going to ASU and still wanted me to take a look at them and de-commit from ASU."

The strongest pressure came from his hometown college – the University of Missouri. Coy claimed that at the time a lot of Internet message board chatter wrongly stated his genuine interest in backing out of his commitment and possibly staying in-state to play college basketball.

"When other schools read that stuff on the message board, I was getting a few calls every day about that," said Coy. "I had to tell every single coach that called me that I was going to ASU no matter what. Missouri was trying to convince me to stay close to home. Driving three hours there versus flying a little over two hours to ASU is maybe a little cheaper, but with the cost of gas these days who knows. So it wouldn't be all that different."

Throughout our interview, it was easy to sense how close Coy is to his family and the value that he puts on their opinion cannot be overstated. Logic would suggest that playing at a school such as Missouri, or Creighton which is even closer to St. Joseph's, should have been the ultimate route the forward was going to take.

As it turned out, it was actually Coy's family that knew all along that playing in a school located two time zones away would be the most beneficial for him in the long run. "My whole family trusted Coach Sendek," stated Coy. "Even my mom who knows nothing about basketball was blown away talking to Coach Sendek and really pushed me to come and play for him."

"Now that I'm at ASU my family tells me all the time that there's nothing going on back home and that's it's great I'm out at ASU having fun and seeing new stuff. They are all very happy for me."

By his own admission, Coy is a low key person. Nonetheless, the passion and enthusiasm that ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek exhibited throughout the recruiting process, along with his strong sense of honesty, ultimately served as the main catalyst for convincing the forward that he should choose the Sun Devils.

"Everything that comes out of his mouth is the truth," said Coy of his new head coach. "He'll always tells you as it is and never lies. The coaches he has on his staff are no different. He told me that all the players on the team were great guys, and I thought he was exaggerating a bit. But when I came out here I saw that every single player was like a brother to each other. I can't believe how close the players are, how they always help out each other every day. It just blew me away."

These days, the maroon and gold are already pegged in several pre-season publications as a top 25 selection, and one of the best teams in the Pac-10 coming into the 2008-09 campaign. This is a much different reality that the one that existed during Coy's recruitment, as ASU was struggling en route to an 8-22 (2-16 Pac-10) record.

"Coach Sendek told me back then ‘just wait –we're gonna be good.' People told me I was dumb when I committed because they weren't doing well," remarked Coy. "My brother would tell people that ASU would be good and they would laugh at him. But I believed everything Coach Sendek said and look where it's at right now. It really paid off, and my brother gets to tell everybody ‘I told you so.' It's pretty funny."

Johnny Coy ended his tenure at Benton as the school's career scoring leader with 2,104 points, to go along with 1,029 rebounds. His best games in high school were 46 points and 16 blocks, both school records. He averaged 27.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 3.9 assists for 22-5 Cardinal team in his senior season. He received first team all-state honors twice, first-team all-conference three times, and was a McDonald's All-American nominee.

After wrapping up his stellar senior year on the hardwood, Coy could have never imagined that he would later on have hoards of suitors in his other favorite sport – baseball. After all, he thought that he was probably playing this sport for the very last time.

"I played baseball a lot earlier than I played basketball," recalled Coy. "It's just a lot easier sport for a kid. From age two, I was playing baseball every day, no matter how bad the weather was. Basketball came a few years later. I've always played both sports and loved them both."

At 6-7 Coy is obviously not your typical baseball player. He commented that his quickness and agility on the hardwood has helped his skills on the diamond. Consequently, while players of his stature would normally be regulated to the outfield, Coy shined playing 3rd base at Benton.

In his senior year, Coy produced jaw-dropping numbers that lured Major League Baseball scouts over to St. Joseph's time and time again. "I batted .655, had 13 home runs, 18 stolen bases (out of 18 attempts) and 55 RBI's," stated Coy who was also first-team all-state for two years. "I shattered every record at Benton. In fact the guy that had the batting record before me was my brother at .566. But I was surprised that I had several (MLB) teams that said I was going to get drafted."

"It was such a nerve-racking process getting recruited in basketball and now I was going through all this again in baseball. I thought getting recruited was over and now I was starting back up and it was more nerve-racking going through the process in baseball than it was in basketball."

It wasn't uncommon for several scouts to show up for Coy's practices, let alone games. "Having all those scouts coming to see you play really kept me on my toes," acknowledged Coy. "That's probably why I had such a great senior year. I knew there was always somebody watching."

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers were some of the teams that gave Coy an indication that they were going to draft him. On draft day the Kansas City Royals told Coy that he was going to get selected by them in the eighth round and inquired if he would forgo his basketball career and sign a professional baseball contract.

"Right after I got that text from the Royals, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted me in the seventh round," said Coy. "It was pretty funny."

Once again Coy was in the middle of a speculation whether he would honor his commitment to the Sun Devils or not. While Coy did have some talks with the Phillies following the draft, he stated that he never had an intention of backing out of his pledge to ASU.

"I'm a big time believer that when I make a commitment I'm sticking to it," said Coy. "There was nothing that was gonna take me away from basketball. That was my main priority and that's what I wanted to do. I made that very clear to any scout that talked me – I was going to play basketball at Arizona State University."

"There was no amount of money, unless it was over the million dollar range, that was gonna keep me from playing basketball. No team was gonna offer me that type of contract, because that's first-round money."

The Phillies suggested that Coy still enroll at ASU (tuition would be paid for) and play for Coach Sendek, but also play professional baseball in June and July in their minor league system.

When ASU got word of the Phillies' intentions, the Sun Devils talked to Coy and convinced him that he would be better off playing both sports in Tempe.

"Coach Sendek knew it would be the wrong decision for me to play baseball. He was talking to me as a person, not a coach," recalled Coy. "And then one day when he called me he said ‘I have someone here that wants to talk to you' and then (ASU Head Baseball) Coach Murphy gets on the line. It was an hour before they were playing Fresno State in their elimination game. I was totally surprised to hear his voice."

Murphy quickly created a positive rapport with Coy. When the Sun Devil skipper confirmed that Coy was going to watch the game, he told him: "I'm gonna get interviewed in the seventh inning, and I'm gonna make a point to give you a shout out – I'm gonna scratch my nose like fifty times."

"He was messing with his nose the whole interview," recalled Coy.

In subsequent discussions, Murphy gave Coy several reasons why not to sign with the Phillies.

"Every single guy that he coached that didn't sign out of high school and went to college ended up improving his draft position," explained Coy. "He showed me so many stats on that. It really made sense to me and my family."

Coy claimed that the fact that ASU is consistently one of the premier programs in college baseball didn't influence his decision. Prior to talking to Murphy, he didn't have any aspirations or thoughts about playing baseball as well for the maroon and gold.

"When it happened it was like a dream come true when Murphy offered me to play for him," admitted Coy. "I never knew if Coach Sendek was gonna go for that, so I was scared to even bring it up and never really thought about it. When he and Murphy made the offer I was the happiest guy in the world."

The incoming ASU freshman enrolled in ASU's summer school, and aside from working out with the basketball team in their strength and conditioning program, he did get to meet Murphy personally and talk about his future with the Sun Devil baseball program.

"He's an awesome guy and I had a lot of fun just sitting around and talking to him, playing baseball with his son," said Coy. "He's just the greatest baseball coach you can ask for. I couldn't be in a better situation playing for two great coaches."

Once fall semester started, Coy was able to attend baseball practices for a few weeks, in addition to his basketball commitments. However, when the time of those baseball sessions was moved up "everybody knows that basketball comes first, so I'm only going to those practices now," he said.

The basketball team's camaraderie has helped Coy in his transition to college on and off the court, and he feels truly acclimated in his new surroundings. Coy's evolution from a high school player to a college one will undoubtedly kick up a few notches later this week as ASU begins its full squad pre-season practices.

Expectations surrounding ASU basketball are sky high, and Coy has sensed that excitement for a few months now. "We're happy that a lot of people are talking about us," said Coy. "But we know in the back of our minds that it doesn't mean anything. We have to work hard to play well and we're not gonna automatically have a good season and go into the tournament. We have to just take it one game at a time and if we take care of business we'll be where everybody thinks we'll be at."

"I think the team does have some pressure coming into this season but that's what will make us better. Pressure is a good thing and any good player plays well when the pressure is on."

Coy knows that he's coming into a team that still features just four upperclassmen, but also returns a lot of experience. Coy's accolades won't prevent him from starting out as a reserve, but that on a talented team such as a Sun Devils that's a role he gladly accepts.

"When you come in as a freshman and play for an experienced team, that's the best situation to be in," explained Coy. "Sometimes you don't even have to ask questions. The players go over with me on different stuff and make sure that I know what I'm doing. Everybody gets treated the same here. It's just a great family atmosphere and that's why I love it."

Recruit Profile

Name Johnny Coy

High School Benton, St. Joseph's, Mo.

Position Small Forward

Height 6-7

Weight 205

Date of Birth 7/5/89

Birthplace St. Joseph's, Mo.

Nickname "Never really had one, but all the guys called me J-Coy."

Favorite TV Show "Don't have a favorite one, because I don't have much time to watch TV. But when I do have the TV on it's usually on ESPN."

Favorite Movie "Rocky IV. I love all the Rocky movies, they're my favorite. But Rocky IV is the best one."

Favorite Singer "I listen to all kinds of music and am open to anything. So I really don't have a favorite."

Favorite Food "I love Pizza, but I haven't been able to eat much of it lately. It's a lot of strict eating right now, healthy foods. Now, whatever they tell me to eat is my favorite."

Favorite Drink "Orange Gatorade."

Favorite Athlete "Larry Bird. I could watch him play all day. My favorite baseball player is ‘Pudge' Rodriguez."

Favorite Pro Team "New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers."

Person you most admire "My whole family. I really look up to every single one of them – my mom and dad, my brother and two sisters. They've all helped me get to where I am today. When I was growing up I watched all of them play sports, work hard and I just wanted to be like them."

First Basketball Memory "I remember when I was like two years old, and watching my family play O-U-T, which like H-O-R-S-E. They would always play that in the backyard. I was really little, but I still remember that. I would try to shoot the ball at that age but was never able to get it up there."

One Thing most people don't know about me "I'm kind of shy, quiet person. I don't talk too much."

Why did you choose ASU? "Definitely Coach Sendek. I talked to a lot coaches during recruiting and there's not one I believed in or trusted in more than Coach Sendek. Even my family connected with him so well."

Where do you want to be in ten years? "Hopefully playing basketball or baseball, whatever works out better. If not, I want to follow the same career path of my family which is teaching."

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