Chad James to decide on Ole Miss, Mizzou

Chad James knows Missouri. He's gotten to know Ole Miss. One of the country's best high school senior left-handed pitchers said it's down to those two.

"I'm deciding between Ole Miss and Missouri," said the Yukon, Okla., native, "and I'll decide by sometime (this) week."

Baseball programs in Oxford and Columbia anxiously await that decision.

James, a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder who is ranked by some as one of the top four left-handed high school seniors in the country this school year, took four visits – Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in addition to Ole Miss and Missouri. But there were many more schools interested and they let him know it, too.

"On the first day they could call, July 1, I probably had 26 or 27 schools call," said James, who pitches for Yukon High School, a 6A school in Oklahoma with nearly 2,000 students grades 9-12.

Ole Miss was one of them, and at the time he knew little of the Rebels and their program.

"At first, I didn't really think about Ole Miss," he said.

But he began to listen and learn and he decided to take a closer look. He came to campus for the Ole Miss-Memphis football weekend.

"It was pretty amazing," he said. "I had a good visit. My parents also came down. I got to hang out with the players, tour the school and find out about the academics, watch the highlight reel, and take in the Grove and the game. I went to a concert with the guys on the team. On Sunday we had breakfast and headed back."

Back home to Oklahoma knowing more what Ole Miss is all about, especially from a baseball standpoint.

"They get huge crowds for baseball, and with it being in the SEC, there is great fan support," he said. "I know a lot more about the program now."

He already knew about the Missouri baseball program. His older brother, Justin, pitched for the Tigers and is currently with the Reds organization.

"I know a lot of people there, and I'm comfortable there," he said of Missouri.

James was 9-1 as a high school junior, pitched in 12 games, 67 innings, with 13 earned runs for a 1.36 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 21 walks. He had three shutouts.

He is a good hitter, too, batting .423 as a junior last season with 10 doubles, three triples, and a home run.

And so it is down to two. James is a special pitcher and person, according to his high school head coach, Kevin James, no relation to Chad.

"He's got a very live arm and is a very hard worker," said Coach James. "He's been one of our top pitchers since he was a freshman. He's got a good build and the ball just seems to jump out of his hand."

Coach James said he has seen some publications list him in the top three or four in the country. Coach James also said Chad attended the USA Baseball tryouts and finished in the final 34, although not quite making the team's final roster. He played in the Area Code Games in California and was "the second or third best pitcher out there," according to his coach.

Coach James said many consider Chad the top college baseball prospect in the state of Oklahoma this year.

"His whole makeup, how hard he works, he just wants the ball every time," said Coach James. "He's just a competitor. He knows more about what he's going through right now having watched his brother go through it."

Chad said his fast ball is 89-93 mph, and he also has a curve ball and a circle changeup in his arsenal. He says this school year is all about continuing to get better.

"I've got a personal trainer now, and I'm trying to build up my legs and get real strong," he said. "I want to bring up my velocity more and continue to work on my mechanics."

And it looks like within the week, he will have his final choice for college behind him so he can focus on his immediate future at Yukon High.

"He's special," said Coach James. "No doubt about that. I hate to lose him."

Yukon's loss will be someone else's gain. This time next year, Chad James will be in college. In a matter of days, we will likely know where.

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