On Friday afternoon, in anticipation of his son's biggest game of the season, Mike Conley Sr. took some time out so Bucknuts could get the latest on his thoughts about Daequan Cook's commitment to Ohio State as well as the latest on his son's recruitment.
As a former Olympic Gold medallist, Conley is used to performing at a high level against top competition. Saturday night, his son, Mike Jr., helped lead Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence North High School to a state championship in the 4A division in the Hoosier State.
It's Conley's AAU prodigy Daequan Cook, however, that stole the spotlight this week when Cook committed verbally to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Cook plays for Conley on the Spiece Indy Heat, a powerful AAU program featuring Cook, Conley Jr., 7-footer and Conley's high school teammate, Greg Oden, and sophomore guard Eric Gordon.
It was a verbal commitment that was well received by the elder Conley.
"I think it's excellent, and a great fit for Daequan and Ohio State," Conley said. "Daequan Cook is a special player -- one of the best offensive players I've seen in fact. I think with the quality of the program and the style of Thad Matta, Daequan is a good fit for Ohio State."
Last Tuesday, the night after Cook decided to make his commitment to Ohio State, he called Conley to give him the news. Conley was receptive, as he believes Cook made the choice best suited for him.
He was not at all surprised.
"The timing was a little bit of a surprise, but the fact that he chose Ohio State was definitely not," the elder Conley said. "I figured for a while he was leaning that direction, and I think it was an excellent choice."
The attention now turns to Conley Jr., who scored seven points and had four assists in the 63-52 victory over Muncie Central on Saturday night in the 4A state championship in Indiana.
Conley, who is very close to Cook and has expressed interest in playing with him, will have plenty of time to digest it as Cook has pledged to get Conley to join him.
His father, however, reminds everyone that the decision will still come down to whatever is best for his son, who is considering Wake Forest, Ohio State, Illinois, and North Carolina.
"I think Daequan's decision to go to Ohio State will not affect Mike in terms of doing whatever is ultimately best for Mike," Conley Sr. said. "Daequan made his decision and Mike will make whatever his decision is going to be. The things that attracted Daequan to Ohio State are different to what attracts Mike to Wake Forest. That being said, there is a lot attracting Mike to Ohio State and it comes down to what ultimately is best for him."
One of the big things attracting Ohio State to Conley is head coach Thad Matta.
In no uncertain terms, Conley Sr. believes Matta is keeping Ohio State in the running, and that's why it's too early to make a prediction where his son will land.
"I will tell you this, if Thad (Matta) was not at Ohio State, Mike would not be considering them right now," he explained. "Coach Matta is one of the biggest reasons we like Ohio State so much, and we think he's doing great things there."
Conley Sr. would feel comfortable sending his son to play for Matta because there's already a precedent of his pushing Cook to play for him in the past.
"I was recommending Daequan to play for Matta well before he ever took the job at Ohio State back when Thad was still at Xavier," Conley explained.
According to Conley Sr., Mike will probably wait until summer to make his decision.
One of the many things they are waiting on is to make sure no coaching changes take place on top of many other smaller issues.
Coaching stability for not only this season but the future is a big thing for the Conleys.
"One of the things that really helps with Thad and Ohio State is that he signed that (8-year) contract and Ohio State said 'hey, this is our man'," Conley noted. "That tells us they have a great deal of faith in Matta, and we genuinely believe he's going to be successful and will be there a while."
Conley reiterated that his son currently favors Wake Forest over Ohio State, Illinois, and North Carolina, but also said they will continue to wait.
The decision hasn't been made, which is why he's not yet committed anywhere.
"I think Mike really wants to take his time and weigh all of his options," Conley said. "He's not yet ready to make his choice. He really needs to be patient and think everything over and make the best decision he can."