Chicago's Cornette considers Cats

Ricky Cornette, a 6-9 forward from Homewood (Homewood Christian Academy), Ill., is considered one of the nation's top 50 players but he hasn't allowed it to go to his head. Despite all the success he's had on the basketball court, Cornette has his feet planted firmly on the ground . He knows basketball is his ticket to a free education even if his dream of playing in the NBA is never fulfilled.

"Every player should have aspirations of playing in the NBA," Cornette said. "But God gave me a talent and I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to use it to get a free education."

Cornette will participate in the Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis for the second consecutive year. Playing for Homewood Christian, a small school on the outskirts of Chicago, doesn't offer the competition Cornette needs to hone his skills for the next level and he's looking forward to the challenges at the Nike Camp.

"Because the the competition isn't very good (during the regular season) sometimes I only play about half of the game and sit out the rest," Cornette said. "I really don't get the opportunity to improve. At Nike I get the chance to evaluate my game playing against the best (players in the country). But I've been working out with (UCLA forward) T. J. Cummings and he's helped me a lot."

At Homewood Christian, Cornette is strickly a post player, he thinks he can play either forward position and considers himself a combo-forward.

"I can play inside or on the perimeter" Cornette said. "I have good ball skills. I'm the biggest guy on the team, so I've always played in the post. And I'm a good rebounder. My strengths are my rebounding, defense and I have good offensive moves around the basket. I need to work on my 12 to 15 foot jumper."

Cornette has taken unofficial visits to Ohio State, Kansas State, Marquette, Illinois, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Some schools remain on his list and others have been eliminated.

"I like Stanford, USC, Arizona, Notre Dame, Illinois, Kansas State, Michigan and Seton Hall," he said. "I'll definitely take official visits to Notre Dame, Illinois, Kansas State and USC. I'll decide where I'll go for my fifth visit during the summer."

I asked Cornette to give me his impression of some of the head coaches he might be playing for and here are his comments:

USC Coach Henry Bibby: " A Christian and very nice guy."

Illinois Coach Bill Self: "Nice guy, he's been recruiting me very hard."

Iowa Coach Steve Alford: "He knows the game and has the experience of playing in the NBA. He played with Michael Jordan."

Arizona Coach Lute Olson: " A great coach. He's a legend."

Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery: "I really don't know much about him."

When it comes time to make his decision, like most players, playing time will be one of the focal points in determining where Cornette goes to school.

"I want to play," Cornette said. "Nobody wants to sit on the bench. I don't care if I play the whole game but I want to get some immediate playing time. I can't improve if I'm not playing."

So, what's more important; playing for a winning team or PT?

"There are schools like Duke," Cornette explained. "They have McDonald All-Americans sitting on the bench. I want to win, but I want to play. I want to give myself a chance to improve and you can't get better sitting on the bench."

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