Sam Webb: After another big time year I don’t think you’ll find many people disputing the contention that Diamond Stone is the #1 center in the country. But I want to hear what you think of his performance. Talk to me about his game. I last I saw him out in Vegas and he did really well out there. How would you say his game has progressed from last year to this year?
Bob Stone: “I think he is a more mature player. He is very hard on himself as he is turning into a team play. I don’t know how good that means with all this ranking and all this other stuff. He is starting to understand the game is not about his numbers but about winning.”
Sam Webb: What about recruiting? He has everyone in the country on him. Has he started to narrow things down yet?
Bob Stone: “We probably won’t do that until the summer, by the end of the summer. We have a list of about six or seven.”
Sam Webb: How much contact has Michigan been in with you guys?
Bob Stone: “Let’s see, for Michigan our point man is lavall jordan. I think he has been to maybe two games this year. I think the last one was maybe the last regular season game of this year. He keeps in touch.”
Sam Webb: Have things died down with Michigan since you all came on the visit last year?
Bob Stone: “I wouldn’t say that because we had a process and our process is still the same. Me and his mother, we just evaluating the programs and by the end of the summer we were going to draw up a short list. I think you wrote about that. If you go back and read the article, we told you what our process was and we have stayed with the process, but Michigan, they are a viable program.”
Sam Webb: What impact, if any, has their success had on your perception of them?
Bob Stone: “I was surprised when (Mitch) McGary went down that they won the Big Ten. To me they were surprised, I don’t know if they overachieved but they did really well. Beilein, he seems to know what he was doing. I thought maybe when McGary was there, they could have went through the middle a little bit more, one game particular, and that was probably that Duke game. Duke doesn’t really have a legitimate big man. But you know, he proves that he is a good coach and the Big Ten is a grind and they won the Big Ten. That is something admirable.”
Sam Webb: Have you guys had much of an opportunity to get out and visit other schools this year?
Bob Stone: “We just visited some schools that were within driving distance. As a matter of fact, the reason we came to Michigan, was because I was going to Flint. We just stopped there, that was an opportunity. Wisconsin is right up the road so we have been there. Marquette is in the city here so we have been there, you know. DePaul is close so we’ve been there. I think that is about it.”
Sam Webb: Your process is your process. You guys are taking it at your pace but the other side, when it comes to the colleges, they go at a different pace. That being said have you sensed some schools being much more aggressive in their courtship than others? Can you discern that right now?
Bob Stone: “I don’t know because we don’t let them rush us. We are not going to let them rush us and if they have scholarships they want to give away, that is their process. I respect theirs like I want them to respect mine. But we are going to take our time and we are going to do this because we don’t get no do overs and we just want to get the most, be able to take our time. We’re watching a lot of basketball, we’re watching a lot of coaches. We will read the papers to see different crisis, how they are being handled at different schools. So, we are not going to let our process be rushed but, like I said, we are not going to eliminate anybody but if they choose to eliminate themselves Sam, what can I say.”
Sam Webb: You said you are looking at programs. As you break things down, aside from how teams do on the floor, what is the criteria? What are you guys looking for or looking at?
Bob Stone: “Well you know, like his mother, she does the educational thing. So when the coaches come up, she is quizzing them about the academic support, living conditions, and things like that. I know what Diamond is looking for in a coach. He is looking for a teacher. He is looking for someone he can relate to. He likes playing basketball. He wants it to be a personal experience. He does not want it to be a business experience. Some coaches are about business and that is what they are about. Diamond is looking for a coach that he can respect, he can talk to and he is looking for a relationship, you know what I’m saying, with the coach. Some of the guys, as you know, they aren’t person, they are just about the win and they don’t try to complicate their lives too much with other people’s business. There are some really good coaches out there that really care about their kids too. I’ve seen that.”