"Coach Eustachy saw some of the same qualities that Jamaal Tinsley brought to the table for him," said Winchenden School coach Mike Byrnes. "He realized that he wanted to have another tough city guard and thought Curtis fit the bill.
"Curtis doesn't back down to anything or anybody. If we're going in a foxhole, Curtis would be one of my first picks to have in there with me. Coach Eustachy really wants to have that mental and physical toughness on his basketball team, especially at that position."
Stinson, who attended a pair of high schools in New York City before settling in at Winchenden Prep prior to last year, is ISU's only known commitment for the 2002-03 signing class.
He averaged 16 points, eight assists and two steals while averaging at least 32 minutes per game in his first season at prep school. He did so playing against some of the toughest competition possible, as Class A Winchenden competes in the prestigious in New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC). The program already has four players committed to Division I schools and on average sends 9-11 kids to D-I programs per year.
Stinson became the fifth Winchenden player on Tuesday afternoon when committed to Eustachy and the Cyclones following an in-school visit from the coach. Stinson also had a scholarship offer from Drexel and was being looked at hard by a number of other programs such as South Florida, East Carolina, West Virginia, Syracuse and DePaul, according to Byrnes.
"He's a big loyalty guy," Byrnes said. "There were a lot of other schools that really wanted to get involved with Curtis. There were a lot of high-major schools that wanted to get involved, but couldn't because they didn't have a tie with him. Because of Wayne Morgan and his ties to New York City and because of the assistant coach at Drexel, Curtis had that loyalty. He's going to go with people that he feels comfortable with and trusts."
Morgan, the newest member of the ISU staff, had already built a relationship with Stinson prior to his days in Ames. A long-time assistant coach at Syracuse, Morgan already had close ties to the area and built a special bond with the star point guard. That relationship paid off when the Cyclones started recruiting Stinson more seriously.
"It all started this past summer," Byrnes said. "Curtis had a great year for us last year and a great summer. I was working ABCD camp and Wayne Morgan at the time was interviewing with Coach Eustachy, but hadn't officially been appointed to the job. We went out to dinner one night during the week at camp and I hit it off real well with Wayne. He came and sat with me and watched all of my guys play.
"Then there was the Three Stripes Tournament in Long Island and I met up with Wayne again. He sat with me and watched Curtis play. Obviously Wayne was at Syracuse in the past and Curtis is from New York City. Coach Morgan then came out probably about the first week of the school year and watched the guys play. He sat down with Curtis and talked to him. I think right off the bat, Curtis felt very comfortable with him and the situation."
Stinson built such a bond with the ISU coaching staff that he committed without even taking a visit to Ames. The point guard won't be able to take an official visit until after he takes the SAT exam in November. Byrnes said Stinson will most likely take an official visit over Christmas break.
In addition to fitting the mold of a tough, physical New York City guard, Stinson can also play both the point and off guard positions, something that Eustachy and his staff prefer.
"Curtis scores points for us, is a very solid kid and does a great job of getting to the basket and free-throw line," Byrnes said. "He knocks down open shots and makes great decisions in transition. He could definitely play in the backcourt with another talented combo guard.
"But I'd like to believe he's a point guard, because I put the ball in his hands and he runs my team. He's my point guard and is very, very good at it. But he can definitely fit any one of those roles."