By George, Big Man Emerging

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Reggie George had a few Missouri Valley offers coming out of high school in the Chicago area. Needing some core classes, though, he was toying with the idea of junior college not even six months ago. And now?

The 6-9 PF from Palos Heights, Ill., played his freshman, junior and senior seasons back home at Shepard High. He ran two summers ago on the Nike Circuit with Larry Butler's Illinois Warriors. But it took coming to New England to attract more than regional attention.

"He's been the surprise so far," Notre Dame Prep coach Bill Barton said. "He's 6-9, 230, and he runs the floor like a deer. He's been very, very good. He's definitely Atlantic 10 and climbing."

True enough. George Washington, UMass and Providence have scouted him during fall pickup in the last couple weeks. All three schools came away impressed. DePaul and Buffalo are interested, too, and Rhode Island was in the gym Wednesday afternoon.

"It's crazy," George said. "I mean, I was getting recruited by Division I schools last year … but I'm probably going to play through the season and wait until the spring."

And why not? He had offers out of high school from Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Indiana State. After a year up here, if he keeps this up, he'll have a whole host of others at that level and higher.

"I need to work on my back-to-the-basket game and get stronger," said George, who averaged 14 points and seven boards as a senior at Shepard and scored a 19 on the ACT. "I like it in Chicago -- I'd go back there -- but I just want to go someplace I can play."

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