One of the top remaining unsigned players in the class of 2012, Kemper County High School's Devonta Pollard is in the process of officially visiting colleges to find out more about them. So far, he has visited two colleges.
"I have visited Missouri and Texas," said Pollard.
He talked in-depth about the things he liked about both schools.
Texas - "I visited Texas first. Of course, I like their coaching staff. I like their offense and the way they get up and down the court. I like the system as far as how they put the players in the spots that they need to be. I like how they play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses in practice. I went to one of their practices and they work a lot on their players weaknesses so they can become their strengths. That way, when teams watch a tape of their games, they won't have any weaknesses.
"They also have a guy, a nutritionist, that helps the players take care of their bodies. He is unbelievable. Some of the things he showed me about the guys' diets were things I didn't even know.
"Their academic advisor is good. She is going to do everything in her power to make sure your grades, your GPA, stays up to where it's supposed to stay. It doesn't matter if you are at home or on the road, traveling to games, she is going to make sure you take care of your grades."
Missouri - "With Missouri, basically, it was the same thing.
"But Missouri has a strength coach and a nutritionist all in one. There aren't two people that you have to go to when you deal with both. You can go to that one person. The way he has set up their strength and conditioning room is amazing. He has things in their weight room that I have never seen before. Some of the stuff i had never thought would do the things that they do. And the way they go in and lift weights is not just going in and lifting a certain number of reps but lifting according to what you will do as a basketball player, basketball-specific type lifting. Also, when you come in and they want you at a certain size, they will take you through some x-ray and tell you how much body fat you need. And they will give you the amount of calories you need in your meals to get you up to par. Just taking time out to do that with their guys means a lot to me. I like that. They don't just say, 'ok, we got him, he can lift the way he wants to'.
"The coaching staff is good, too. Whatever the players need, the coaches are going to do whatever they can do to provide it to them. And they act the same way off the court as they do on the court. (Head) Coach (Frank) Haith is the same way whether it is on the court or off the court. He is going to tell you what you need to do. And he's going to say it in the same type voice as we are talking now. He is not the type coach who will cuss you out and make you feel bad about yourself. He is going to try to build his players up and get the best out of them."
Pollard has three official visits remaining. He talked about the three schools he hopes to visit if times allows it.
"We have in mind to visit Georgetown, Alabama and Mississippi State," said Pollard, "but I don't know if we will have enough time to visit all three of those."
In between visits, Pollard took a week to practice and play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Basketball Game, Friday, March 16th, in Montgomery, Alabama. He was honored to have played in the game, a game that earned him another honor, the Mississippi team's Most Valuable Player Award.
"To be chosen to play in this game is an honor," said Pollard. "It means a lot to me to get to play for my state because our state has done a lot for us. And while Mississippi was already on the map, there may be places in Mississippi that people didn't know about and by you being on the team you help those places get noticed. And to play alongside Fred (Thomas) and (Chris) Bilbo one last time was great."
Now that the game is over, the next thing on Pollard's agenda is to begin his visits again. One of the schools he hopes to visit is Mississippi State. Rick Stansbury, the head basketball coach at Mississippi State recently retired. Pollard talked about that and how it might affect his thoughts about Mississippi State.
"It affects my recruitment a little bit but not that much," said the youngster. "I'm not going to say just because he has retired, period, it's time to move on to the next one. Rick was a good guy. I don't like that he retired, but I guess he retired for a good reason. But if I do decide to go to Mississippi State, no matter who the coach is there, I'm still going to have to be the one who does what I need to do in order for someone else (on the NBA level) to look at me. I'm going to wait and see who the new guy is and see if his system will be similar or totally different."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.