Paul Bayer, the 2006 sharp shooting guard from Moline, IL took his first official visit to Marquette University this past week. The 6'5 shooting guard came away impressed with Tom Crean's program, but was equally impressed with the school. "The official visit was different than other visits. The best was that it was more in depth. I was able to see what really goes on behind the scenes, not just on the basketball side of it but the school as well. I was able to meet with the academic people and see what the school is really like."
Bayer was accompanied by his parents and brother on this trip, and they were impressed as well. They felt that what Tom Crean instills in his players might be a good fit for their son. "Where we live, Moline basketball is a pretty big program. We get about 4,000-5,000 people at our games. The team travels on a charter bus, and every where we go; out to eat or to the store, people recognize Paul. They always come up to him and we are proud of the way he handles it," said Larry Bayer, Paul's father. "He tries to treat everyone with respect. He takes the time to answer any questions, and we see Tom Crean instilling that in his athletes. He teaches them that they are ambassadors of the school and program. He makes sure that they know they are well taken care of, but that when they walk through campus they are one of the students. They make sure to treat all of their classmates with respect, and it shows. When we first came to see Marquette each one of them came up and introduced themselves to us. They did it in a way that was really genuine. They really made us feel at home."
The University itself was equally important to the Bayer family, and Marquette impressed them in that area as well. "From the athletic department to the academic departments you can really see how much those people care about the students", said Larry Bayer. "From the person who handles their scheduling to the athletic director to the Sr. Vice President of the university, you really can see that they believe in their students and that their advancement is the priority."
Paul Bayer enjoyed the time he spent with the players and coaches. "I spent a lot of time with Ryan Amoroso. He was great, and it meant a lot to get that kind of one on one time to see how he really feels about the program, and how he dealt with the transition. It was great to be able to talk to one of the players. They all made me feel welcome, as if I was a part of the team."
Assistant coach Jason Rabadeaux has been the most involved in Bayer's recruitment. "He is a really good guy", said Bayer. "He is really easy to talk to and that really makes me feel comfortable. He is really on top of things and that shows me how they handle their program."
Bayer was also impressed with Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "He really knows his stuff. We watched films for about an hour and a half and I learned more from him in that time than I ever have. He is a great teacher, and has a way of making sure you are learning. He showed me films of guys from when they were freshmen and pointed out their problems. Then he showed me films of them later in their career, and explained how they worked with them to overcome their weaknesses and it really showed. He also showed me highlight tapes of the guys that are coming in next year."
Wanting to make the jump to the next level, Paul knew he had to make changes in his game in order to compete in college. "From grades school on into high school I just camped out beyond the arc. I just looked to shoot, but I know I needed a more complete game, so I talked to my coach about it. He suggested that I really needed to work on my strength, ball handling and also needed to work on moving towards the hoop. We agreed that I should step back from AAU ball this summer, and specifically concentrate on those things, and it really seems to be paying off. I feel much stronger. During my visit I got to play in some pickup games. Outside of Joe Chapman, I was the smallest one on the court since Ryan Amoroso, Steve Novak, Scott Merritt and Todd Townsend were some of the guys I played with. I was a bit nervous because they asked me to play point guard, and I'm not used to that. The ball handling work I am doing must be paying off because I only had one turnover. I know I will have to play some point guard in college too because of my size, but I really think that is an area where I can help out.
The basketball facilities at Marquette also grabbed Bayer's attention. "I have been to several schools, and the Al McGuire Center is unbelievable. It is the most impressive practice facility anywhere. The arena, the weight room, the locker rooms and the academic center; being there really makes you appreciate what you have. We toured the Bradley Center and it is great. I had been there for a game before, but when you are in there when there isn't anything going on, it amazes you how big it really is, and that has been my dream. Ever since I was a little kid I have dreamed of playing in front of a huge crowd and on TV."
Next year Marquette leaves Conference USA for the Big East, and recruits are taking notice. "Marquette going to the Big East, it makes you think, they are moving up. They will be playing in what people in the media and radio said will be tied with the ACC as the two best conferences. And to think that in a couple of years, I could be playing in the best conference in the country – that is very cool."
Basketball is not the only area where Paul Bayer excels. He spent the last two days practicing for graduation as a member of the school's chorus. He also has a 3.9 grade point average. "One of the things that I am most proud of is the way he takes his academics so seriously," said his father. He takes it upon himself to make sure that he excels in that area and it shows. It also shows when you take a look at they type of schools that are recruiting Paul. Marquette, Stanford, Creighton, it means a lot that they are all among the best in the country academically."
In this day and age you don't find too many basketball players that constantly put others ahead of themselves, but Paul Bayer is that type of person. "When it comes to talking to people, doing interviews with the media, Paul always credits others, said Larry Bayer. "One of the biggest games of the year was also the best performance of Paul's career. He was being interviewed by a TV station after the game and when asked about the big victory he gave credit to the teammates that didn't even get into the game. He said, "We wouldn't have been able to do what we did tonight if it wasn't for the white team. They are the one's that constantly push us in practice and make us better. If it wasn't for the white team, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did."
As much as he was impressed with the visit to Marquette, Paul still has a way to go with his recruiting. The schools that are emerging as his leaders are Marquette, Stanford and Creighton. "Over the past year the recruiting has been exciting, especially as more schools have gotten involved. But I am ready for it to be over, mainly because I want to move on. I want to know where I am headed."
When it comes time for a decision the 6'5 junior knows what will factor into his decision. "I am looking for a school with a strong academic reputation. That is important to me. I also want a school with more of a family atmosphere. I want a place where the teammates are my family off the court. When we step onto the court we set it aside and work as hard as we can, but when we come off the court we are more than just a team. When it comes to style of play, I like to get out and run. My passing is pretty strong on the open court, I like the fast break."
Bayer will get a closer look at the three schools at the top of his list and they will get a chance to take another look at him as well. In the coming weeks he heads to Creighton to attend their elite camp with Marquette's the following week. He will also attend Stanford's elite camp after that.
After speaking with Paul Bayer and his father Larry, it was obvious that, wherever Paul decides to play basketball in college, he is certain to have a successful career both on and off of the court. One of these schools will get a very talented basketball player, but an even better person.
Bayer Takes Official Visit to Marquette
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