Evan Daniels: How’s the recruiting process going?
Nicole Player: So we are in the process of taking our 4th visit, our 4th and last visit to USC. Home of Coach Andy Enfield. The four schools: we started with Kansas, that was our first visit, Syracuse, we just finished Indiana, and then the next is USC
When will that visit be?
That will be this weekend.
What stood out about Kansas?
It was their midnight madness Late Night at the Phog. It was definitely exciting, the arena, the atmosphere was great. [We] got to see a softer side of the coaching staff. You know they’re laughing, and it’s light, it was light and I think that’s a good to see they do have a softer side. They’re going to be tough during the season and just to know they have that nurturing side was good was good for me as a mother… The campus was great, Billy knew all about it. I learned about the tradition of basketball, the history of basketball starting out. I didn’t know anything when I went to Kansas. All I knew was that it was Kansas and a lot of people go there. I didn’t know much about the history of basketball, the campus itself, very impressive, not too big, not too small, and I really liked that. I just think as freshman, you don’t want to get overwhelmed with too much.
What about your trips to Syracuse and Indiana? What stood out about those visits?
Same thing. Indiana I think was the biggest campus I’ve been to so far. It’s huge. Over 47,000 students so it’s huge, it was really nice. Syracuse is more of a hometown, and that’s one thing I did like about all three of them is they’re a small town USA, small college towns. Billy couldn’t walk five blocks without somebody knowing exactly who he was and I think that was great. The fans are incredible. But Syracuse, same thing like I said. Small town, I enjoyed the small town feel. I was thinking New York was going to be kind of busy but I had never been to Syracuse, and that was nice. Then Indiana, like I said, it was the bigger of the three, but it still had that small town feel.
What has Tom Crean’s pitch been to you guys?
Honestly, he’s just straight up. He’s like, ‘You know what? Indiana basketball, it is what it is.’ He told me all of the people that he has had. But really and truly he spoke on himself as a man, his beliefs, what he believes in, what he does there, what he’s good at doing. The one thing he said is he says he’s not going to base things, he’s going to hold Billy accountable. He said he believes in accountability. He’s very intense. I spectated two practices, which I enjoyed both, and he’s very intense and he’s very hands on, and he said that’s always been his mantra, that’s always been his philosophy in all of his years in coaching, that he’s just hands on, he’s basically going to get on you when he needs to get on you and then follow it up with a hug. For me as a parent I definitely appreciate that and I watched him do it. During practice, he did not sugarcoat anything. He got on his guys. If they were out of place, or if they weren’t doing something right, he got on them, but he said ‘Hey, I’m not picking on you, I’m just telling you if you do it here you’ll do it in a game. I’m going to break the habit now.’ I appreciated that. Then he preaches family a lot. I can tell the coaching staff is really close-knit, and that was good.
With Syracuse, was there anything that stuck out in your mind that you liked about the visit?
Definitely Coach Boeheim. I think he is just a class act. He’s very even-tempered. He’s just really easy to talk to, warm, welcoming and his wife is amazing. But in particular, Coach Red Autry, he’s been checking up on Billy, he’s really good, he relates, the guys at Syracuse, we got to sit down with them, the players and same thing, they all had great things to say. I mean just kind of the norm, feeling it out.
How has USC been recruiting him? What has their pitch been?
Yes, I mean in a nutshell, hometown hero kind of thing. I’ve known Jason [Hart] since I was 14 years old, I’ve known Tony [Bland] for the same amount of time, so there’s definitely a trust factor there and I want everyone to know what he knows, that I do not trust my kid with just anybody. But I think that’s one of the things is the hometown hero, but is also just the fact that we’ve known each other since we were children, the two assistant coaches and I. There’s definitely that trust factor that if I send my child there I know that he would be okay. As well as the basketball is developing at a rapid pace, I think coach [Andy] Enfield is doing very well there. So, it’s home, it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, you know, I think that’s the edge that USC would have over anybody else.
After that visit, where do you guys go from here? Do you all want to make a decision in this early period?
I think that what we’ve been doing our strategy is kind of we went to Kansas, after we left Kansas we completely wiped the chalkboard clean, and we went to Syracuse with an open mind, you know, ‘Show us what you got, Syracuse. This is it. Kansas was a clean slate. Same thing down the line, we erased Syracuse to go to IU, now I just think this week we’re going to erase IU, go into USC with a clean slate, and then just bring it back to the drawing board and just sit down as a family and talk. To be honest with you, I think he’s kind of tired with the process. So I think he wants to sit down and weigh the pros and the cons of each school and then from there make a decision. So, I would say probably in the early period he will probably make a decision.