Eric Wallace: Behind the Scenes

There's far more to Eric Wallace than what meets the eye - and that's part of what's going to make him so attractive to college coaches.

It's hard to fathom that Eric Wallace is just 16 years old.

We're not talking about the NBA body or even his advanced basketball skills. It's his demeanor, his work ethic and his understanding of what it means to be a role model that really sets him apart.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Glenn High (N.C.) rising junior is in the planning stages of starting up a free basketball camp this summer.

``He wants to touch kids," D-One Sports coach Brian Clifton said. "Kids at his age just don't do things like this. It just shows you what type of kid he is."

``I've wanted to do something for the younger kids in the community instead of just saying "hey" when I walk by them," Wallace said. "I was joking one day about having my own camp and then Brian (Clifton) took it to the next level."

Wallace's recruitment has also started to move to another level. A national one.

While a year ago it was ACC-heavy (North Carolina, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Clemson) in terms of who had prioritized Wallace, now he's getting a broad spectrum of interest from the UConn's, Arizona's, Texas' and other national powers.

``I'm starting to read more into colleges and watch some games," Wallace said. "I'm talking to some of the coaches. But it's really started to slow down after the season ended."

Wallace, who maintains a 4.0 GPA, is coming off a solid season in which he averaged 18 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. The team finished 25-6 before losing to Dudley High in the eastern regionals.

``He's progressed and worked very hard to become a more consistent shooter," Glenn coach Lee Reavis said. "He gets up in the morning to get in extra shots so he can shoot a higher percentage. What he really does well is get out in transition and finish. That's his strength."

``The last half of the season he really developed his jump shot," added Reavis. "That's coming along and will be a big part of his game next year."

Wallace is the type of kid who does what the team needs and sacrifices part of his own game in doing so.

``He's always open to criticism and is just a special kid," Clifton said. "He really wants to be better for all the right reasons. He's got everything in perspective."

He's the first guy giving the football team high—fives after a heartbreaking loss and the first one offering support to his teammates on the court.

His perimeter game has been questioned, primarily because he doesn't usually settle for outside shots.

``Everyone has told me to attack the rim," Wallace said. "I try to get easier shots before you take harder ones."

Wallace and those around him readily admit that North Carolina and Wake Forest are the two most aggressive schools in pursuit. While the soft-spoken Wallace won't say they are the two schools on top, his high school coach admitted that they are likely one-two as of now.

``In my opinion, those two are on top right now but that doesn't mean anything," Reavis said. "It definitely not a done deal. I wouldn't say that."

Wallace said he had aspirations of attending a bunch of college games this past season, but his schedule only allowed for a few North Carolina and Wake Forest games.

``For me, my decision won't be about staying close to home," Wallace said. "It's going to be picking the right place – wherever it is. Wherever I feel I can benefit the team and the team can help me with my career."

As far as North Carolina winning the championship, it didn't change Wallace's perception of the Tar Heels at all.

``I always knew they had a good team and program," Wallace said. "I grew up a North Carolina fan and was pulling for them. I knew they were a great team."

"Like I said last year, my options are wide open," he continued. "I'm not just looking at schools in the state. I'm just trying to do what's best for me and my family."

``He's not going to make a rushed decision," said his father, Montey. "He's weighing his options and seeing which place is the best fit – academically and athletically. He's make the decision when the time is right."

``Eric's going to do whatever is in his best interest," Clifton said. "Obviously, every kid would love to stay home so their friends and family can see them play, but that's not a decision that's going to be made merely on which schools are close to home."

Wallace will head out with Clifton's D-One Sports program again this spring and summer.

``There's a lot less pressure on me this year," Wallace said. "Last year I was coming off a lot of regional events, playing 45 minutes from my home. Then I got with Brian Clifton and we went up against national guys every weekend and I was just trying to hold my own."

``His game has definitely come around in the last year," added Clifton. "He has more confidence. When a lot of people this spring and summer, they're going to be blown away."

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