Patient Webster mulling options

Martell Webster is sort of an enigma. He does not talk to a lot of reporters, but when he does he is very open and honest. He is a player that has been injured for the last nine months but is still one of the hottest targets for both college and quite possibly the NBA. Due to the injury he has not played to his potential this summer, yet his list of suitors continues to grow.

The big news of late has been Webster's desire to wait until spring to commit to a school. While most programs like to get their recruiting classes wrapped up early on, anyone who wants the talented wing will have to wait.

So why does Webster want to wait? Most assume he is eyeing the NBA and is giving colleges the courtesy of not getting burned by the possibility of his declaring for the league. That is indeed part of it, but Webster also insists that he wants to explore all his options and he can't properly do that until after the season concludes.

"A lot of people's decisions change," Webster said, a bit cryptically. "I don't feel that I need to rush to get a commitment in as long as I know that I have offers. I am just trying to test my boundaries and see who else I can get into on my list."

That sounds like he isn't very happy with the schools, but that is not the case. He has been pursued by the likes of Arizona, North Carolina, Washington and UCLA. He has had the same favorite for over a year, but is still not sold.

"Right now Arizona is at the top of my list, but you know that could change at any time so I just want to keep my options open," Webster said.

It could be that he just wants to see what Lute Olson's plan is. Webster has long been saying that if he were to commit to Arizona that he wants at least one year with the Hall of Fame coach. Conceivably, if the Wildcats were to win a national title or have another rough year like last year, Olson might consider calling it quits. That is unlikely, but for a player with as much at stake as Webster, that is a chance he does not seem to be willing to take.

"If Lute Olson retires then I'll probably change my mind," Webster said. "I'd look to my second or third options."

Webster entered the spring as the nation's top recruit, despite missing most of his junior year with a leg injury. He didn't return to the floor until July, but has been slowed by the injury. He wears a large sleeve on the injured leg and has taken games off to rest the injury.

He has not played up to his potential, but you can see the ability. He is 20 pounds heavier than he was a year ago, but is actually carrying the weight very well. He's not looking to score as much as he would like, but is still playing very well.

"I feel like I caught on quite quickly," Webster said when we saw him in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. "It's not much to get back into it. You have to have been there for awhile. I have not been there at all. I'm a little rusty. It will all come back. I'm not that comfortable with spotting up and shooting yet."

The Seattle superstar is friends with a few Washington players which has led many to wonder if the Huskies have an inside track. It does not appear to be the case. Webster used to work out quite a bit with Nate Robinson and some of the other players, but since the injury he has not been around as much.

"I haven't worked with them much this year, but last year I worked out with them quite a bit," Webster explained. "We had open gyms up there at UW. It's good, it gets you in shape and it gets you focused on playing better competition. The results are good for you. I like playing against better competition because once you get out here you already have a feel for it."

The obvious question for Webster is the NBA. A year ago it seemed doubtful that he would even think of making the leap, but that was before players like Josh Smith, J.R. Smith and Dorell Wright opened the door for high school wings to be drafted in the first round. In years past, only prep big men were selected right out of high school, but the trend seems to have extended to both wings and point guards.

Webster is one of the elite wings in the class, so it would only be natural that he'd consider the pros. Just a few weeks ago he said he was 80% certain he'd go to college. He is still saying that college is the most probable destination, but his stance has softened.

"Not unless I get a Lottery pick would I decide to go to the NBA," Webster explained. "Right now I am going to college."

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: It seems less and less likely that Webster is going to go to college. With a big senior season he could be a surefire first rounder, and the guaranteed NBA money may be tough to pass up. By waiting until spring Webster may miss a chance to commit to Arizona. The Cats would like to take any two out of Webster, Julian Wright and C.J. Miles, but would consider taking any one of those and a second-tier player if it meant wrapping up the class in November.

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