When you first watch Poca High (Poca, WV) standout Noah Cottrill do his thing from afar, you feel as though you're observing a high school senior that is preparing to take his game into the college ranks. The 6-2, 175-pounder isn't lighting quick or explosive, but his outstanding handle allows him to go anywhere on the floor. That ability often makes presses and traps designed to stop him look like exercises in futility. Furthermore, it makes his court vision and awareness all the more lethal. He routinely breaks down defenses and finds open teammates for easy shot opportunities. Combine that with his range out to three-point land, and you understand why a number of high major programs are hot on his trail. Then you get up close and realize he is only 15 years old.
His baby face and lack of brawn tell the true story of his age, but it also puts into perspective how mature his game is. Cottrill shined in two tournaments GoBlueWolverine attended earlier this month (the King James Shooting Stars Classic and the Spiece Run N Slam All Star Classic), but it wasn't until Spiece that we got a chance to watch him at length. During the first of many of his contests that we observed, it was clear what all of the fuss was about. In what he classified as an "off game" he scored 12 points and dished out 16 assists en route to propelling his team to the semifinals.
"Things are going well," Cottrill said at the time. "I come out here and try to do a few things for myself…it's AAU. But I'm on a great team, we play as a team, and we're killing it. We're doing all right. We've never not been in a Final Four as a team."
Cottrill, who compares himself to Steve Nash, pilots the 16-and-under version of Mike Duncan's AAU team, the Ohio Basketball Club. It's a role Duncan knew he wanted the West Virginia native to play the first time he laid eyes on him.
"Mike Duncan… that's my boy," said Cottrill. "I went to one of his camps and got MVP. He just loved me. He kept calling me and calling me. He is a nice guy and a trustworthy guy, so I wanted to play for him."
"I've got a camp called the Adidas Midwestern Elite Camp," Duncan later added. "He was playing on a West Virginia team, but he was playing 17-and-under. I could see then that he was really really good. He makes the players around him better. That's what you look for in a point guard. Anybody can score, but he does a lot of the little things that make a team win. That's what you look for when you go out and recruit a player. Who can make the players around him better? Who can make your coaching job easier? Plus he is a leader. That's why he has picked up a lot of offers already."
"A lot" might be an understatement according to Cottrill. A number of high majors have already made him a priority, but two already stick out on the sophomore-to-be's list.
"Probably 15 of the top 20 schools have already tried to get me to verbally commit," Cottrill said. "West Virginia and Florida are my number one schools."
The Michigan Wolverines first jumped into the fray when Tommy Amaker was the headman in Ann Arbor, and that recruiting presence has continued under Coach John Beilein. His five previous years at directing the Mountaineer basketball program allowed him to establish a relationship with the young floor general.
"I've definitely been hearing from Michigan," said Cottrill, whose brother Ricky played at his college ball at neighboring Eastern Michigan. "Coach Beilein has been with me probably since I was 11 years old. When he moved up (to Michigan) he stayed on me. Wherever Coach Amaker is at… he sends stuff to. He was on me before."
The rapport Michigan's new headman has established with Cottrill will clearly be a major key in the Wolverines bid to move up his list.
"I don't know what all I'm looking for in a school right now," Cottrill said. "One thing I do know I'm looking for is a great coach. Coach Huggins has always got tough hard-nosed players. That's the way I like to play. Then Coach Billy Donovan…he's just tremendous. He is awesome."
Fortunately for Michigan and every other program that trails Cottrill's top two, making a college decision isn't in his immediate plans.
"I'm not going to verbally commit anytime soon," he said. "I've got three more years of high school left. I'm going to take some visits and see how the teams do. I've already been to Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, and Virginia. I'll visit some other places to. I have a lot of time."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Cottrill throughout the year.