Jackson Forbes sets out on his official visits the next two months with a checklist of items important to him. A home away from home ranks as high as anything on it.
"The biggest thing that I'll be looking for is how the players interact with each other and the coaches," Forbes said. "I want to see if the basketball program is a family and if there is a family atmosphere. If I'm spending four years of my life somewhere, I want to make sure I feel like I'm part of a family."
An eclectic group of schools remain in the running for the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Forbes. Iowa, Princeton, Rice, Temple and Yale each will receive an official visit from the versatile Plano (TX) John Paul II, Texas Titans and Texas Fire athlete.
"I don't think he needs to be in a certain system or play a certain style," John Paul II Coach Jacob Anderson said. "He does fare well in our motion offense because he's smart enough to make the proper reads and take what the defense gives him.
"I think he could play the two, three or four at the next level. I know he can defend all of those positions. He's a well-developed and strong 6-6, 215."
A talented Titans roster tends to overshadow Forbes at times. He's a go-to player for John Paul II.
"He's our rock," said Anderson, whose team was a state semifinalist last year coming out of a very competitive conference. "He doesn't really have a set position. He's just a basketball player. He can do anything you ask him to do on the court."
Forbes averaged 12 rebounds a game as a junior and shoots the ball well from the perimeter. As good as he is on the basketball court, his coach is just as impressed with him off of it.
"In terms of the type of kid he is, he's one of the most mature 18 year olds I've ever been around," Anderson said. "He's excellent in the classroom and a leader on the court."
Academics will play a lead role in Forbes' decision. He intends to major in architectural engineering.
Forbes will begin his official visit tour on Sept. 7 at Iowa. Yale (Sept. 14), Princeton (Sept. 21), Temple (Oct. 5) and Rice (Oct. 26) will follow.
Forbes said that all of his five finalists are equal heading into his visits. He talked with us about each of the schools in the order of his stops:
Iowa: They're a Big Ten school so there are a lot of big games every year playing against some of the best schools in the country. I have an uncle who went to Iowa. He's a really big fan so he's pushing for that. I love the coaches. Coach (Fran) McCaffery is a very good guy with great character. I know he's talked to me about the type of guys he recruits and that's something that stood out to me. He also told me that he has no problem with whatever I pursue for a degree. That also let me know the type of guy he was.
Yale: I met Coach (Justin) Simon during a practice with John Paul last year. He seemed like a very great guy. He always kept it straight forward with me from the beginning. He told me he liked what he saw and then he also corrected me right away on some things. He gave me insight on some things I should work on. He showed he cared from the beginning. I know their academics are some of the best in the country. After basketball, it's a good set-up for life just having a Yale degree.
Princeton: Princeton is the same thing as Yale as far as academics. They came in a little later but their coaches all have been talking to me recently. They all seem like great people. A degree from Princeton is just as prestigious as one from Yale. Princeton is one of the top engineering schools in the country. That caught my eye. I have family out that way as well.
Temple: I know there is a lot of great history at Temple. They're one of the winningest programs in the country. They have great coaches. I talked to Coach (Fran) Dunphy and Coach (Dave) Duke. They've both been head coaches. They have put people in the league and pushed players to play professionally. I know I can learn a lot there with all the knowledge that they have. They have success in their conference. It's one of the best basketball cities in the country. That's very attractive to me.
Rice: Rice really is the only school that I have in my Top 5 that is close to home. I would be close to family. I'd be just a few hours away from my little brother, my mom and my godmother. I could see them all of the time. I know they're building a program there. They seem to be getting better every year. They have great academics. There's a lot going on in Houston. Whatever degree I earn, there are jobs in Houston where they can help set me up for after school. Coach Adam Gierlach is great. He was at about every game of the summer league. He's always checking in. He's a nice guy. I wouldn't mind playing for him at all.