You were with him on all of the recruiting visits. What was it like going through the process with him? It was probably brand new to you as well?
"No, I have actually been through it before watching other kids in our program. But it is a grueling process. There is a lot that goes into it. As a young player you want all of the attention but as soon as you start getting it it becomes tiring. So, it was a long, lengthy process as Schnider, I believe, had 34 scholarship offers. And he narrowed that list down from 34 to 10, down to 5 then getting the four visits in. It took a lot of time, a lot of patience. But he deserved to go through the process. He went through the process and he came to his own decision on what he wanted to do."
What were some things you advised him about to make it a little easier on him?
"Good question. I always told him to go where you are loved, not where you are wanted. There is a big difference. You want to make sure the program you choose has plans on playing you right away. You want an opportunity to get on the floor. You don't want to sit there as a freshman and wait your turn. Schnider is a good enough player to where he can come in right away at a good school like Mississippi State and have a measureable impact from day one."
Did you notice that type love from Mississippi State when you got there on his visit?
"Yeah, I really enjoyed the visit there. All of the visits were good. And that was a really good visit as well. I liked the fact that it is a college town. Not very many distractions. Everybody there loved their school. And I liked all of the kids, the kids who are going to be coming back, all really good kids, well grounded. And the coaching staff is the coaching staff., Ben Howland, Coach Zeigler, they have been around awhile and have been successful. And I can't wait for Schnider to be there and be a part of that."
People know Schnider is a great basketball player. But talk about him as a person. You know him as well as anybody. What is Mississippi State getting off the court?
"I would say Schnider is more introverted. He is really to himself. He will cut up around all of the kids. He has a good personality. But he is fairly shy for the most part. He generally stays in his own land. He likes to go watch movies. He is a movie buff. He'll go watch movies every weekend if I let him. He likes to play Play Station and XBox. He is a typical teenage kid. He is a good kid.
"He came from an extremely tough environment coming from Haiti. Not only did he come from Port-au-Prince, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but his neighborhood in Port-au-Prince was probably the most dangerous one there. So he came from a place where people don't survive very long. For him to come from that type place and have the chance to choose a school to go to is a miracle from God. We praise God every day to give him this opportunity. And it is an opportunity that he will definitely take advantage of."
[Derrick and I talked after the video interview was over. Here are some of the comments that he had about the effort Mississippi State put into recruiting Schnider.-Gene]
Going back to what you said earlier, it wasn't just the love but they also worked extremely hard recruiting him, didn't they?
"Yeah, Mississippi State made Schnider a priority from day one. And they proved that with the appropriate amount of touches, the appropriate amount of phone calls, the appropriate amount of text messages and visits. They just simply outworked the other schools in my opinion. They constantly stayed in front of us.
"Ernie Zeigler is a superstar recruiter. He came in and proved to me early on that Schnider was a priority. And he proved to me that they were in love with Schnider that they didn't just like him. You had Ernie's hard work, and I mean he worked his butt off, then you add Coach Howland's experience and his work ethic as well. They were going to be hard to beat because they are proven coaches, three Final Fours at UCLA. And I do like that the 2016 class is their original class. That means a lot to me because they are putting a lot of emphasis on getting the best that they can in 2016. They are not only getting that but using those kids as part of their process to get back to the (NCAA) tournament. They just worked hard. I have to give it to them, they worked their butts off for this kid. And I needed to see that. I needed to see who loved him, not who wanted him."
Something else you said was that you felt like he knew where he wanted to go early in the process but he still wanted to take his official visits. He wanted to give everybody a chance and Mississippi State still won out.
"My thoughts are I think he knew early on what he wanted to do but he never told me that. And he never would because he knew if I knew I would probably want to shut it down as early as possible. But I think he had a really good feeling what he wanted to do. But he really wanted to go on all of the trips to kind of compare and see what everybody else had. He did a lot of research. Not only did he research the recruiting now but he researched who they are recruiting in 2017. He went a year in advance because he understands how this game works. It is what have you done for me lately. He made sure he researched every angle of every kid that they are recruiting. And Mississippi State still won out."
Did you advise him to do that or did he figure it out on his own?
"While he is still a kid, he is really smart, really observant. When you don't speak the language very well you have to listen, you have to watch and observe a lot. So he was forced to do that. Plus, he had an older kid at Prestonwood Christian Academy (Vanderbilt freshman center) Djery Baptiste that he saw being recruited. I was also around for (2014 1st round pick by Los Angeles Lakers/University of Kentucky) Julius Randle's (recruiting) process. So I have seen this before and knew what to look for. And I wanted him to know what to look for. Then he came up with his own conclusion. He wanted the schools that he chose and he went for it and made his own decision."