2003 Spotlight: Charlie Villanueva

Rodney White was taken by the Pistons in last year's NBA Draft. His size, skills and frame dazzled the NBA scouts. Could Charlie Villanueva be the next Rodney White?

Recruiters Flock To See Charlie

Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy combo forward Charlie Villanueva has star power. His game is so diverse and yet he has great size. Villanueva is a younger version of Charlotte star Rodney White, now with the Detroit Pistons.

A strong summer showing at the adidas ABCD Camp and all over the U.S. with the Long Island Panthers has vaulted Villanueva into the national spotlight.

"Everybody has been coming in to see Charlie," Blair coach Joe Mantegna said. "To tell you the truth, he was the reason we stayed close in the Worcester game. He played at a very high energy level."

Syracuse and St. John's will be players in his recruitment. North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois and Seton Hall are on the list as well. Louisville was in this week to see him. By no means is this a complete listing of the schools he's interested in or programs that are recruiting him. It's only a starting point.

Mantegna said interest in Villanueva is at an all-time high. "More and more people saw him for the first time in a structured non-AAU situation. It sounds funny to say, but his interest is actually picking up." Mantegna said both Villanueva and teammate Luol Deng are likely to take visits during their junior seasons. "But, I'm not going to make them rush into anything and have them make a bad decision.

"My problem with kids taking visits in the spring is that these coaches can't talk to these kids so how do they make a decision about visiting when they can't have much conversation with the coaching staff."

Villanueva's not finished developing. He has scary skills and is just now starting to understand what it takes to be a great player every time out on the court. "He's going to be as good as he wants to be," Mantegna said. "He's one of those lucky kids that has a high ceiling. He has that ridiculous talent level."

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