FT. WAYNE - The summer has been very good to Ft. Wayne Blackhawk Christian star Russell Byrd, but not so much for his AAU team, Blessed IJN.
Byrd admitted that his team's last tournament in Orlando, FL didn't go as well as he had hoped, despite having Justin Martin, one of the top juniors in the state of Indiana on his side.
"We didn't play well and our team didn't do well. We went 0-3 in the National Championship round and 1-2 in the Super Showcase."
Even though the team didn't play well, Byrd himself had a pretty solid outing.
"I had a game of 22-points, somewhere in there and a couple of about 26 points. I played well, shot the ball well, I've got Justin Martin playing with me now and we really offensively were a good combo, but we didn't play team defense as well as we could have."
Martin said he noticed the Michigan State coaches in Florida watching him and a few other top prospects. "I couldn't talk to them, but I gave the the occasional wave and a wink," joked Byrd.
Byrd told GSN what has changed for him since our last interview. "Michigan has officially offered, they couldn't offer until August. Wake Forest offered, Ohio State offered and I can't remember but I've narrowed it down to a top five.
What are they?
"Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky and Ohio State all in my top five, in no particular order," he said.
Byrd said the coach is going to be the biggest factor in which school he chooses. "It's always the coach first, you can't do anything without the coach that's the first thing that goes through my mind. The system's pretty big too."
He talked about the situation at Indiana and how that might affect his decision. "I'm not worried about it right now, but we'll see if those sanctions come down and if they're pretty serious or if they're not allowed to play in the tournament, that would probably hurt (them)."
The 6-foot-7 junior said he noticed the similarites in the approach to recruiting between Coach Izzo and Coach Tom Crean of Indiana and figured their must be a connection.
"Crean was under Izzo, right," asked Byrd. When informed that Crean was an Izzo assistant he said "yeah, I could kind of actually tell that had been the case, they're kind of similar the way they approach you when they first meet you. I saw similarities there. I think it's definitely helped Coach Crean to have worked under Coach Izzo and because they're similar I think I'll love Coach Crean too, but we'll see."
While he continues his evaluation process Byrd confirmed he'll make his collegiate choice by the end of his junior season. Having a sharpshooter on the perimeter has always been a big weapon in the Spartans hoops attack.
Russell Byrd would fit right in.
Byrd Cuts List to Five
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