Before the second live AAU evaluation session in late April, the main recruits “to know” at Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) were Aaron Wiggins and Jaylen Hoard. But after averaging double figures in points and rebounds for Team Charlotte April 28-30 in Indianapolis, Ind., big man Ian Steere solidified himself as a high-major recruit as well.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound 2018 power forward added verbals from programs such as Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee, Creighton, St. Joe’s, Mizzou and even Kansas. Moreover, the likes of Louisville, South Carolina, UConn, USC and Maryland have been in close contact and could be close to anteing up.
It’s been a rather shocking, and admittedly humbling, rise for Steere, who didn’t even begin playing true organized basketball until his freshman year.
“I was mainly a football guy growing up, but when I started to grow, my dad thought I should try basketball, so I did. I started on jayvee at first, and moved up to varsity the next year. Then I ended up transferring to Wesleyan [after my sophomore season],” Steere explained. “And, honestly, I couldn’t really do much. I was really raw. But during the offseason I really put in work, I ended up growing a couple more inches, and I put on 30 pounds of muscle.
“I didn’t play as well as I could have right away, but I kept working and getting in the gym. Then the first AAU session [this spring], I was kind of nervous because it was my last shot [to impress college coaches], and I thought I could have done better. But after talking to my AAU coach I settled down, and the second session I started to perform really well. That’s when the offers started pouring in.”
Steere said a few of the looks were somewhat expected since the coaches had at least been through Wesleyan and initiated contact with the Carolina native. But others, per Steere, “were completely out of the blue and really surprising.”
“But right now everyone is on an even plane and I’m open to anyone,” he said. “I have a pretty hefty list right now, but I’m staying humble through this whole process and just letting it sink in since it all kind of came at me at once. I don’t want to disrespect any colleges or coaches by saying this school stands above another, or I’d like to have this offer.”
Steere has yet to take any college visits yet, mainly because he boards at Wesleyan and hasn’t had a chance to get out much. (His family lives about 1.5 hours from campus.) But once school lets out in June, the budding big said he’d like to sit down with his parents and decide which colleges he’d really like to see.
“I have to see all the offers I have first, and then after that I’ll have a few places in mind and will start heading out,” Steere said. “I’ll probably see some schools around [the Carolina area] and then go from there.”
One school his two teammates, Wiggins and Hoard, saw together but Steere didn’t make it to was Maryland. If the Terps eventually offer, though, Steere said he’d surely like to journey up to College Park, Md.
“Jaylen and Aaron have talked about Maryland. They don’t like push the school or anything like that, but they’ve talked about it and it sounds cool,” said Steere, whose head coach at Wesleyan, Keith Gatlin, attended UMD. “It would be really exciting to get that offer. I think Maryland is a great program, and they’re always ranked and competitive.”
Steere said the Terps’ coaches took note of him prior to the April live sessions. However, the interest has picked up of late.
“I’ve started to hear a lot more from Maryland recently. Coach Bino [Ranson] has been in touch, and I’ve talked to the head coach, Coach [Mark] Turgeon a bunch of times too. They’re good guys,” Steere said. “We’ll see if they offer or not.”
Regardless of which programs’ coaches stay on him or opt to offer, Steere plans to take a deliberate approach. He said he’d like to take multiple officials before ending his recruitment.
“I really don’t want to rush anything,” he said. “I mean, if I find a school that’s a perfect fit, I’ll commit earlier, but I’d like to take my officials. Academics is a huge part for me and very important to my parents too. And then it’s just about finding a place where I can thrive, have great coaches that I connect with, and hopefully become a great basketball player.”