Behind the Scenes With Jarred Vanderbilt

One of the ten best prospects in the class of 2017 is Houston (Tex.) standout power forward Jarred Vanderbilt. We had a chance to sit down with the player’s father recently to get a behind the scenes look at this high major recruitment, the Team USA experience, and which schools may be close to extending an offer.

What’s it been like for the family in navigating Jarred through being a highly recruited student-athlete?

Robert Vanderbilt, father of Jarred Vanderbilt: It’s been great, he’s been on the path for it for awhile with attending a lot of great camps, Nike EYBL, some of the Adidas camps. Matter fact, we just got back from Chicago with the Nike Global Challenge and Vegas for Bigfoot. Everything has been going really well.

How about watching him progress as a player this past year, what are your impressions?

Very much so, it’s been a great process and he’s been coming along and maturing more, especially with having the opportunity to participate with USA Basketball and playing with and against some of the best young people in the world. He’s shown even more maturity since he’s been a part of that, and we are very excited to see how he has come along.

Can you share how you as Jarred’s parents have handled the recruiting process and how you have recommended that he handle it?

They, the college coaches, have been watching him for a couple of years now and I’ve gotten some good feedback from the coaches and through the USA Basketball Team. They’ve been talking to us not only about how he’s playing but also how he’s coming along with his character. We’ve always tried to raise him to be a productive citizen. It’s been a good ride so far and all the feedback has been positive and for him to be one of the 12 guys selected out of around 25 players for the USA Team, that had a lot to do with his basketball skills and his character growing even more.

Did you guys as a family get to travel with Jarred overseas when he competed with USA Basketball?

No, no, I did not go. Everyday he was texting us, his mom, keeping us a part of it as he represented his country. He sent us a lot of pictures throughout and when they won the gold against Canada, he sent a picture via text of that, so he kept us posted as everything was going on.

One of the things you hear about with USA Basketball are the relationships that are formed, both amongst the players and with the parents too. Have you and your wife developed any good friendships through that?

Yes I have, as a matter of fact some of the guys that played in Chicago this past weekend at Nike Global are some of the guys we know from USA Basketball. We’ve made contacts with some people he met during that process. De’Aaron Fox, they play on the same Houston Hoops team, then the kid who I think was the leading scorer on that team, his parents made it on the trip but we didn’t make it. Him and Fox from Houston Hoops we’ve gotten to know.

Are you and your wife discussing your sons’ recruitments’ at all with other parents in Jarred’s class?

Yeah, a couple of them we hear from some of the guys, some of the parents. Not a whole lot, but some will ask whether we’re going to do Nike or Adidas, that kind of thing, some of them do it, some of them don’t. Not a whole lot do it, but some do.

When June 15th call deadline came and went and Jarred could start talking directly with college coaches--are you still handling most of the communication with college coaches?

Yeah mostly I told them to contact me first because I want him to enjoy playing ball and getting his education, I don’t want to cause anything for him to lose focus, so myself and his mother are handling a lot of that.

Which coaches are you then seeming to talk or text a lot with?

I get a lot of texts from different coaches. Arkansas, A&M, Duke, a lot of coaches text me and tell me what they think about his game, most of the time they just text me directly.

Which coaches from the Duke staff have you been communicating with so far?

The top assistant, Coach Capel, he texted me last week about some information and they wanted to get a transcript on Jarred. They are very interested in his style of play and they like his game.

With the Duke contact you mentioned from earlier in the process, was that the first time you guys had ever heard or communicated with Duke?

Actually for Jarred, he got a letter from them in sixth grade, years ago. It was more a get to know us, get to know him and they will stay in contact with us. There hasn’t been a whole lot of contact from them between that letter and now. There’s been more contact with them recently. They said they like his game and feel he’s really progressing and Coach K, he’s impressed with his play. Matter of fact I saw them in Chicago at his games at Nike Global. It was good to see them, lot of good reactions from the parents and from the players, he’s one of the top coaches in the country. It was awesome.

With the Duke assistant coach asking for Jarred’s transcripts—did he discuss the possibility of a Duke scholarship offer in the future?

He said they had requested the transcript from the school, they didn’t request it directly from me, the person at school mentioned that Duke had called and requested his transcript, said it was a part of their procedure with kids, they check their transcripts, stuff like that.

What are your thoughts on Duke as a program and as a school?

It’s a great school, great basketball program, great coach. They are one of the top programs in the country and in the world. Schools like Duke and Kentucky and Texas, I tell them it’s an honor to hear from such prestigious schools and programs with the way they do things. It’s an awesome feeling.

If the Duke interest progresses to a Duke offer in the future—big picture, how do you see that affecting Jarred’s recruitment?

We haven’t made any decision, and we don’t burn any bridges and we haven’t come close to making any kind of decision. He’s not even into his junior year, we’re going to take care of that down the line.

Junior year is usually the prime time for a lot of players to take visits to different programs—is that the plan with you guys?

Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. The big thing is just getting better at playing ball, getting his lessons down and then we’ll really bunker down and make that decision. We’ve had quite a few offers for visits but we haven’t accepted any yet since we’re in AAU season right now. I’m pretty sure more schools will be extending offers for us to come visit.

Is there a point in the future that you guys have as a family where if a program or programs haven’t extended a formal scholarship offer-it’ll be time to move on from them in the recruiting process?

No, no, no. We’ve heard from just about everyone and we are very pleased with everything that he’s getting with interest and offers.

As parents—what kind of information are you seeking from the college programs as you try to figure out how you feel about them and the potential opportunity for your son there?

That’s important to us because the number one priority for him is to get his education. Athletics is second, so we’re making sure he would be taken care of first with his academics and as a person, that’s our main goal that wherever he goes he’s going to be taken care of as an individual, as a student and as an athlete. That’s top five in the decision making.

Is there a potential timeframe in your minds that appears to be a good time for him to make his commitment?

Yeah before the end of his junior year we’ll know pretty well what he wants to do and where he wants to go. By the end of the school year academically, we’ll discuss it and when he decides, we’re going to talk about it, we’re not going to rush the decision, we want him to make the right decision.

With wanting to have his decision out of the way by the end of his junior year academically, are there plans for a list cut down, visits and all that?

When we do the visits this year, we’re going to narrow down where he’s going to take visits too with what he likes. We should have an idea by the end of his year what he wants to do and what he likes. We’re looking at visits to all of the places, Duke, Texas, Arkansas, Baylor, all of them have said they would like for us to do a visit there.

Are there any plans in the making or already firmed up for potential visit dates?

No not yet, they’ve all said that whenever we want to take a visit he can take a visit. The offers been made, we just haven’t made any commitment yet for visits. There’s no schools that we’ve decided for sure to visit yet, we’re just very appreciative of all the offers that have been made. We’ll make some decisions down the line on where to make the visits—but we haven’t decided anything yet.

With the limit of five official visits—do you think it’s important he take all five that are available?

One at a time. We’re in no rush, we’re going to think this out thoroughly with him and me and his mom and figure out the best fit for him.

Are you guys paying close attention to who is being recruited by the different programs who are recruiting Jarred, especially at his position?

No, I’ll be honest that we’re really just thinking about Jarred, that’s really what’s on my mind. It’s like I tell him, it’s hard to get to the top and it’s even harder to stay at the top, he has to keep his game tight and don’t worry about anybody else.

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