Could landing Leunen be just a hoax for Cats?

Maarty Leunen is a smart guy. Not just because he scored a 960 on his SAT, but by how he plays the game of basketball. The first thing that jumps out at you is how well he does the little things. He doesn't wow you right away, but after paying attention for awhile you can't help but like what you see.

Maarty Leunen is a small town kid who comes off very well. He's well spoken and seems genuinely nice. He does not seem put out by the media and actually appears to be flattered by the attention. He has sort of burst on the scene the past few months and is trying to adjust to the attention.

Last year was Leunen's first on the AAU scene and he was really nothing more than a role player. He took the experience of the summer and had a great high school season. The college coaches noticed and are now calling.

"Confidence is the key," Leunen said. "Things started turning around as I gained confidence."

He has some very nice programs clamoring for his services, but the elite schools have begun to call and that is intriguing to the 6-8 forward.

"Right now I would say Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga and Cal are recruiting me the hardest," Leunen informed. "But then Kansas, Arizona and Duke have been looking at me and calling me. I'll wait until after (the July camps) and see what happens. UCLA is another school that just started to talk to me. I've been offered by Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga and Cal."

It could be hard to lure Luenen to a bigger city. Even a place like Tucson may be larger than Leunen feels comfortable.

"I've visited Cal, Oregon, Oregon State and Gonzaga unofficially and I liked them all," Leunen said. "They're all a little different, but most are in little towns. Oregon and Oregon State are the biggest schools."

Leunen grew up a Larry Bird fan and likes the style of play of fellow Oregonian Mike Dunleavy. Leunen is a fundamentally sound big man with a nice jumper. He may not be as accurate as "Larry Legend", but he's got a good stroke from outside the arc. He is not afraid to bang, but seems more comfortable passing from the high post.

He's having fun at his first Nike Camp and really likes the competition.

"I enjoy playing with all these guys, just playing my heart out," Leunen said. "It's a lot tougher playing at this level. You just can't get the shots you normally get. The guys are so much more athletic, more physical guys. But on the other hand you get to work on weaknesses and see what you've got."

Leunen seems like an ideal teammate. He sets picks, makes great decisions and passes the ball well. He recognizes double teams and knows how to find an open teammate. He's not Luke Walton, but could very well be another Luke Jackson. He's likely a college three man who will get you good minutes at the four when needed.

"When I get the ball I'm not greedy trying to put up a shot every time," he said. "I let the game come to me, work hard on rebounds and maybe get a couple of putbacks. I'm not going to be calling for the ball. If other players want to shoot the ball every time, that's cool with me. But if they pass the ball, that's even better."

Before he gets to college he has to better refine his game. He needs to continue to work on his perimeter skills after playing most of his ball down low.

"I'm not uncomfortable (playing on the wing), but I'm not used to it and I need to play my way into it," Leunen confessed. "Since I'm making the transition from the post to the three, I need to work on my ball-handling. I got a pretty good shot, but playing with more athletic guys it's tough to get it off, so I have to work on that. Then off the court I have to work on becoming more physical."

Leunen has several factors he's looking for in a school. Basketball is important, but so are academics and the environment. He won't rush into anything and wants to closely consider his choices.

I'm looking to get a good education first, because you always need that," the solid student said. "It has to be a place I feel comfortable at because I'm going to be there for four years. I have to enjoy the coach and the players that are there now."

The biggest challenge in landing Leunen is not the size of the city or how big the school is. His decision may come down to mileage. Leunen is honest in saying that family and friends are pressuring him to stay close to home and that he will listen to what they say. Teams like Duke, Arizona and even UCLA may not be able to pry him away from the Pacific Northwest.

"Right now it's not a big deal to stay close to home," Leunen said. "But in the end it might be. I'll talk to my family and I may stay closer so I can be around my brothers. I still have three younger brothers. The little one is going to be a point guard, but the other two will be bigger than me."

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