There were no hats on the table depicting the finalists.
No LOIs spread fashionably apart depicting who the last standing few were.
Just a podium and Lance Thomas standing at it, with a microphone standing by.
A quick introduction, and then out of nowhere, it came out, as innocuous as a spring tulip:
The speed at which the words were spoken, with such rapidity - it seemed as if the burden had finally been lifted. His own burden. Relief would probably not be a good description of what was going through Thomas' mind during those moments.
But, in the end the two programs eager to hear the final bell toll had their wish.
Duke was left standing.
"It's pretty hard to turn down any offer that they gave. It's a great university, basketball is premier in the nation," stated Lance Thomas, while bidding his farewell to the college recruiting process on Thursday afternoon.
For Rutgers basketball fans, the loss will hurt. For some, a continued analysis of every word Thomas uttered during his farewell speech, trying to understand where his state school, his state school, had fallen short.
No matter the agony, despite the fact that decision time didn't present itself until a mere ten minutes before game-time, there is only one clear message from this: It's time to move on.
Time to move on. Time to focus on Rutgers of 2006-2007, with the Scarlet Knights that are here.
Dan Waterstradt and Zach Gibson, it has been stated, have both been granted their release from the program. The loss of Gibson, who was a fish out of water in the talent-laden Big East is not surprising. The loss of Waterstradt, however, who's spunk and enthusiasm were characteristics that fans grew to love, will be missed. As far as Rutgers was concerned, he was a Big East body, one that for ten to fifteen minutes per game could go out there and hold his own.
The bigger issue, with LT's decision now in the rear-view mirrow, is what Rutgers will do next year.
With as many as three scholarships available, there are possibilities. Some rest with Quincy Douby's impending decision. Whether he decides to stay or take his talents to the next level will in large part determine whether this team is bubble-worthy or hardly a double digit winner by season's end.
Some rest with Hamady N'diaye's immediate impact. Will his defensive presence be what Rutgers teams have lacked since the departure of Lamizana?
How will Courtney Nelson fit in? Will he and Anthony Farmer effectively split available playing time? Will Farmer's health allow him to get back to 100%?
There seems to be some traffic among the guards - a logjam of sorts. How will that play out? And what of the remaining 'ships still left? Any big bodies still out there?
One thing is certain: the makeup of the Rutgers team that played its final game of the season less than two months ago will be markedly different from the team that will take the court next fall. The following months will help answer many of the previous questions and several more.