Recruiting process evolving for Schilling

As a fairly new recruiting target in the class of 2013, 6'9 big forward Gavin Schilling has seen his stock shoot up in recent weeks. For some programs, this process will need to be accelerated if they are to catch up. That's the case for Coach K and Duke, who are working to make a strong initial impression.

Previously, TDD spoke with Gavin Schilling about Duke's early interest and contact. However, it's been more than Mike Krzyzewski phoning the talented forward. Coach K has also spoken with Schilling's family back home in order to make a complete first impression. Recently, we spoke with Schilling's mother about the Blue Devil efforts, and her son's interesting journey to Findlay Prep.

Previously Gavin told us about his childhood abroad. Can you fill in some of the gaps of his story?

Lisa Hall-Schilling: I blame myself for that. I"m American and come from the south side of Chicago, from a town called Markham. I was in the fashion industry and had gone to just about every modeling school before graduating and moving on to a professional modeling career in a variety of settings including runway modeling. I was working in Chicago for all the major stores and magazines and I was getting scouted by some of the major modeling houses. In a way it's a lot like Gavin is being scouted and recruited for basketball.

It was that scouting that led me to Paris and I worked with all the major couturiers and designers and I did that for at least 23 years in Europe. I retired from the business when I had my children and married my husband who is a German citizen. We had two beautiful boys, one born in France and one in Germany. Gavin was born in Munich.

He mentioned you also spent a fair amount of time in France.

We lived in Strasburg. I have to say, I was the happiest mom to have my kids grow up there, and it was nice to be able to be so close to Germany and the European Parliament. The kids attended French school but they learned French and German.

Soccer is a huge sport in Europe for kids growing up, did Gavin play growing up?

Oh yes, you'll see Gavin even now on the basketball court, when he picks up the basketball out of bounds, he'll pick it up with his feet. I see him using those soccer techniques.

It was a little difficult there with basketball because he was on a French basketball team there, but he could only practice with them and not play because he was too young to play. We did have a basketball goal in the backyard, and that was his first real introduction to basketball. He kept playing soccer because it's a part of life over there.

It was really interesting when he came to America, he actually struggled a lot and didn't like basketball very much, and then after awhile, I told him, you have to try out for this tackle football team and he didn't know what American football was. He asked me what the deal with the ball was. He tried so many sports growing up and he became very interested and good in American football…so good that Loyola Academy, that's the school he went to after France, they really wanted him for football because he was a tight end and he played very well. But, mid-season he said to me, "I really love basketball, and that's what I really want to play mom." For me, that was very difficult as you can imagine because his coaches had so many ideas for him because he was such a good football player.

How did his early years abroad impact his early development?

Well, first of all I think he became a global personality, which is good because we live in a global society. Gavin has seen a lot of the world and he is very adaptable to people. I think that's good as he grows, and I know as a mom he doesn't think about that…he's just himself, very humble and you would never know these things about him.

I think it brings a lot to the table when kids are well traveled in that way and he really thinks it's a normal part of his life. It's good for his future and I think he wants to go into International Business, that's just awesome.

You mentioned earlier talking about your recruiting process as you were working in the modeling business and seeing the parallels to the recruiting process that Gavin is going through with colleges. How are you advising him through this process?

You put yourself in a situation where you have to handle your business, promote yourself like I had to, and you have to learn how to communicate with other people. You go with the flow when you are a young,  so my agent would say you have to be in Tokyo one day and then you have to go Germany for a fashion designer shows and you'll be there for three days, so at least I had someone to manage that process for me.

That's why I thank God for his school, because they can manage that process for him and it helps him be who he really is as a person. Being a global personality, he's getting a lot of that from Findlay Prep since they have so many international kids and what they work towards fits. The environment there fits him well. Did he tell you that his dad was a professional handball player? So his dad has had experience with being recruited as have I. I played basketball as well.

So how do your respective experiences lend themselves to offering him advice about the athletic portion of the recruitment?

I guess with what I've already gone through, it's second nature to me. I understand what's going on but it can be overwhelming because he's being recruited heavily by many coaches.

It's wonderful to build a relationship with these coaches and the assistant coaches…it's great and, of course, Gavin can't do everything, so as parents we step in and help. That means we talk about how he feels about the schools and what they have to offer with classes as well as the school, the team, the coaches, those are all important. We have a great communication about this and he takes this process well. He's also taken it upon himself to build his own relationships with the coaches and he's taken on a lot of responsibility himself, which is good for him as a young man.

It's important to establish a relationship with these coaches because he's going to go to school for four years, so you need to know these coaches and they need to know us. I want to know where my kid is going to go, that's very important.

Gavin mentioned that he's totally open to all schools and he mentioned schools that have been recruiting him for awhile, can you talk about the relationship with them?

Certainly you have schools like USC and others who have been there from the beginning. Illinois as well, on a constant basis. It's amazing, in a year and a half or even longer, UCLA is newer than USC and others. Michigan State was there in the beginning and Gavin mentioned they are calling again recently, but I haven't heard from the assistant that was recruiting him in a couple of months. Oregon State, and DePaul as well.

I feel like I'm part of the family, we have established a real relationship and I know these guys and their wives and some of their families by talking with them. I guess that's what it's all about. It's only natural to get to know them as people.

And, the newest thing, I don't know if Gavin mentioned this, but we received a great call from Coach K. He's at a top 10 school that is very strongly recruiting Gavin. That made me feel really great when a school like Duke and UCLA, as well, are strongly recruiting my son. What I like about them, not only do they appreciate him for his basketball skills, but they also appreciate his academics, which that is the most important thing to me because they go hand in hand and I like that.

We talk about what kind of classes they have, I always need to know who he'd room with on campus, there's a lot of things I'm trying to visualize and learn about these programs.

Oh and please make sure you put down Minnesota as another school he's looking at. Coach Smith, that's another school that's been there since the beginning and then there's a second tier with schools like Missouri, Auburn….I don't want to forget anybody to make anybody angry.

How are you reacting to the schools that are newer to Gavin's recruitment since you've developed strong relationships with schools that have been there from the beginning?

That's an interesting question. Obviously, Gavin changed schools and changing schools brings out new clients, new schools, and new opportunities, you know? The thing is Gavin has developed his game and he's still growing just like I did in that clients got bigger and bigger and bigger and I think in this business, you grow into your major, your goals and more people will look at him.

He's playing at a great level so schools can't overlook a guy like that. I'm ok, and there's no difference. It is great that those schools were there in the beginning and I think it had to do with the area. He was in Chicago and then he moved to Nevada, and I think that plays a different role when it comes to new schools.

How much ground do you think the new schools have to make up with Gavin and you guys since they don't have that relationship equity that schools have built with you guys who recruited him from the beginning?

It's like any other relationship, you just gotta start it. Of course you have less time and there' s different categories of schools. Some from the East, some from the West. With any school, he's asking, "Where do I really fit". That's when you can see other schools who didn't recruit him before and you can see if he can see himself in that school or in that conference.

That's where it's good that you have other schools recruiting you even though the relationship may be different. Their reputation has been known for years because they are in the Top 10. It's just like the Top 10 designers that everybody knows…it's the top 10 schools, Just like when I became a better model, now he's becoming a better basketball player and there's just better schools coming on that start looking at you and that's what makes the difference. I would have loved to have a longer relationship with these new guys, but that didn't happen, so I just have to take it as it comes.

So what have Duke and UCLA presented to you and Gavin early on?

Well, if you do your homework, their reputation is already established. One of the things that disturbed me in the very beginning of Gavin's recruitment was the assistant coaches leaving. One would be there for a year and then move on, or eight months or even three weeks. I just wasn't used to that switching. Then you see the coaches who have been there at their schools for a long time and I respect that. I"m learning more about them and I'm learning that they have experience and they know who they want. If they get the kid they want, you know they are going to work with that kid because each kid has a style and that's what I'm also learning.

It's important that he's a fit, that he feels comfortable with the academics and the coach. The coach is taking the father position, because they are with them every day. When you get to know their play, that's important too. You watch them play and of course you hear rumors about certain coaches. You read about them and if you have any questions, they are very open to give you answers and i really like that.

What kind of things have you learned about Coach K and Coach Howland personally in your interactions with them so far?

You know, they are two of the newer ones. One thing I didn't know is that Coach K is from Chicago, and he's got family in Chicago. It makes you feel good, of course if they are from Chicago, you already feel close to them because you are almost neighbors. Other than that, it's just things you learn about a person like his kids and his grandkids and the age of his kids. I think that's great to know because they know how it feels. It helps the relationship because it's quite personal when they share their family with you because your child is your child and that's the type of relationship you want, it's quite personal.

UCLA has been mentioned prominently with Gavin of late. Is that characterization accurate?

Yes, and I feel great about that. They are a top 10 school as is Duke. I'm really honored that my kid has come that far to get recognition from schools like this. What can you say other than it's awesome, and Gavin is blessed to have schools like that to recruit him. We are very thankful.

UCLA and other West Coast schools have had a lot of success with Findlay players in the past. Does that 'pipeline' factor in with you and Gavin?

It's obviously something to do with it. Just like with Findlay Prep, they have good talent at UCLA and they have good talent coming out of Findlay, so of course these kids are going to look at top 10 schools. I'm very happy that Findlay took Gavin in, because he's a high quality guy that these schools look for. Maybe that's true because they aren't far, especially geographically. They've been dealing with each other for years now, long before Gavin came to Findlay Prep.

Does that then mean that UCLA occupies a stronger position in Gavin's recruitment because of that school to school relationship?

Well no, I wouldn't say a stronger position. It may seem that way, but what can I say is that Findlay Prep is one of the best Prep schools in the nation and UCLA is one of the top 10 schools in the nation, so they have to work together. I don't want to say that because they are there, that's why, Gavin was recruited, it does make a difference where you are located though. And with Findlay Prep and UCLA being so close, they have known each other for a long time, and maybe that does play a role, but I wouldn't be the person to say for sure that it is…but it does seem like it.

Gavin mentioned that you texted him recently about the call with Coach K and said that the conversation went "very well"…from your perspective, what did you think went "very well" with that conversation?

Well, it went well because simply, it was just a great conversation. I got a chance to know more than from the day before of just having read some stuff about him and Duke. It was a great conversation with him, because sometimes when you talk with a coach there's a certain degree of uncomfortableness, but I didn't feel that at all in talking with Coach K. He asked questions like I asked him questions. When you go back and forth and respond to each other, that's a great conversation and that's what we had with each other.

What kind of questions did you and him have for each other?

He wanted to know about Gavin's growing up in Europe, and playing over there. He mentioned coaching the national team and he wanted to know about me and his dad, and any siblings that Gavin has. General questions to get to know someone. It was more the same for me. How many kids does he have, what age are they, and things like that. He shared about coming from Chicago and his time at West Point Academy. Just a very nice conversation and he was strongly interested in recruiting Gavin. Strongly is a good word to use when characterizing his interest in Gavin.

What did he say that had him so interested in Gavin as a person and a player?

That he was a very polite kid, and he saw the video that was awesome of Gavin, and it caught his eye. The video from Gavin playing at the Staples Center. He was speaking about Gavin with the video and the great moves he made and how in speaking with him how polite he was. He complimented me on that, and how we raised Gavin. I greatly appreciated that, it was very nice for him to say.

Have any coaches indicated that they are going to come visit you or Gavin in person during the season since he's not going to be doing official visits until after his season is completed?

Yes, I've had coaches come visit me, and in the future, there are a couple who are calling who want to come by and visit. Whenever they are allowed to come, there's certain times they can come. I take each day, day by day.

Did Coach K or Coach Howland indicate they are planning to come visit either yourself or Gavin in person?

Me, probably not. But, with Gavin, they are planning on going to several games of his. Coach Howland has already been to Findlay Prep multiple times, and Coach K, it just happened recently, but he mentioned he's going to see Gavin play and will be staying in contact with him.

Are you going to be traveling with Gavin for the official visits?

Oh yes. It's always a family affair when he goes and visits schools. His dad, and possibly his brother will be going. His brother seems quite busy these days.

Are there any schools you know for sure will receive the opportunity to host Gavin on an official visit?

We're still evaluating. There's schools that have been there from the beginning who still want to get Gavin on campus, and the ones we didn't get a chance to see before he transferred. So the ones who have been there from the beginning, we would hopefully like to see their campuses for visits.

Do you think it's likely Gavin will officially visit UCLA, Michigan State and Duke?

UCLA will absolutely be in for an official visit. That's for sure. We'll wait and see with Duke and Michigan State, because we're just starting the recruiting process with Duke. It's just like in the beginning of any school recruiting you, they are going to be sending us information in the mail now that they have our address and we'll go from there.

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