One of the lesser told recruiting stories in this national junior class in Stanford recruiting discussions is that of Philadelphia combo forward Rob Kurz (Penn Charter School). The 6'8" skilled forward has been high on the national recruiting radar for some time now because of his ability to score in bunches on the perimeter, earning high rankings and interest. Kurz is a consensus top 100 national player at this time, including a #24 ranking by Rivals. Says Dave Telep of TheInsidersHoops, arguably the nation's top basketball recruiting analyst:
"He's a gifted power forward in that he's skilled. What that means is that Kurz can face up and shoot the basketball with range. I think he's got terrific potential. To really max out his talents, he still needs strength on the inside to be a better and stronger finisher. He'll get there and he's certainly a very good high major prospect who will definitely be in the Top 100."
His scholarship offers include all the major local programs, like Villanova, St. Joseph's, Penn State and La Salle. But it's the interest and offers from Indiana and Notre Dame that have stamped him as a player of top contention. Perhaps the discussion of Kurz as a Stanford target has been muted because of the report in early March where he was quotes as saying that the two schools from the Hoosier state were his favorites, and the likely pair from which he would choose. But Kurz says today that Stanford is not only still in the mix, but high on his list. In fact, he has two official visits he is scheduling this spring, and the Cardinal will be one of the recipients in May.
Kurz already has visited Indiana (March 1 - Iowa game) and Notre Dame (fall) which puts them ahead of the game. He has seen both places and talked with both head coaches in person, then on the phone thereafter. Kurz has never seen Stanford and is yet to speak with Mike Montgomery. "I can honestly say that I know the least about what they [Stanford] want as far as basketball," the Penn Charter star reveals. "If I got in academically [to Stanford]. it would be a really hard decision between all three."
To that end, Kurz says that much of his discussions with Stanford, and senior assistant coach Tony Fuller in particular, have centered around academics and admissions. "Coach Fuller tells me to make sure I do as well in school and on [standardized] tests as possible to get admitted. If it's something I really want to do, then to give it my best shot," the forward relays. He currently carries a 3.4 GPA and has recorded a 1050 score on the SAT. He took that test in December, and apologizes for a poor effort he says that was clouded by a travel tournament he was playing at that time. So Kurz is retaking the SAT in May and says his goal is to clear 1150. "Stanford's admissions is probably the only reason I'm retaking the test," he admits.
Both of Kurz' parents are big proponents of academics and want their son to hold off on any decision until after he visits Stanford. Dad in particular has a heavy fondness for the Cardinal, the son reveals. But there are serious attractions to the Indiana schools that make Stanford at best a one-in-three shot in this contest. "[Stanford] has always been a school I've admired and always been in my top three or four," the Philly forward says. "Indiana has a great basketball tradition, and I really like the coaching staff. I really felt comfortable there and really liked the campus. I feel it's a place I could really develop." That's a lot of usage of "really" in just about every meaningful dimension for a basketball recruit, and bellies his passionate feelings about the Hoosiers after his recent visit there. As for Notre Dame, Kurz is kind as well: "They have good academics, and I like Coach Brey."
A common hurdle for Stanford to overcome in these East Coast recruiting wars is the deterrent of distance, even though the Cardinal have already pulled down talented center Peter Prowitt from the D.C. area. Distance is on Kurz' mind, though a mitigating factor is that the competing options are not exactly in his back yard. "I'd be lying if I said that distance doesn't matter," he opens. "But even with Notre Dame and Indiana, I'd have to get on a plane. If I go out to Stanford and fall in love, then I won't minimize that at all because of the distance."
With the upcoming official visits in April to Notre Dame and in May to Stanford, plus the all-important SAT retake to come, this is a recruitment that is fast maturing. Kurz says that before long it will be time for him to sit down with his parents and lay out the pros and cons of each school. "We'll have to figure out the best fit and best opportunities in basketball and academics for me. You also have to include early playing time in that discussion," Kurz describes. His final decision could come as early as the beginning of the summer.
But the spring and summer will be about more than just trips and recruiting decisions for this intelligent and outgoing son of Philadelphia. A full slate of camps and AAU travel tournaments is about to break open that won't stop until August. Kurz will play again with the New Jersey All-Stars, a Nike travel team, and tip off the season like most top teams at the Boo Williams Invitational in a little more than a week. He will then travel to Houston for the big Kingwood Classic, followed soon thereafter Memorial Day weekend at either the Memorial Day Classic or the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. The summer will include the AAU Nationals and the Super Showcase, both Nike events held in Orlando. Plus the Peach Jam event in Georgia. As one of the nation's top rising seniors, he will also have the spotlight squarely focused on him at individual invitation events like the NBPA camp in New Jersey and the Nike camp in Indianapolis.
Kurz is looking to improve on an already standout junior season, where he led his William Penn Charter School team to a 26-4 record that included an undefeated record in their league and post-season tournament title. A couple of his standout games included 30 points against St. John Neumann, then the #1 ranked team in the Philadelphia area; Kurz and Penn Charter romped for a surprising 23-point win. At the Prime Time Shootout (New Jersey) in February, they faced a strong Lake Clifton team from Baltimore and came out the victors. Kurz matched up against talented senior combo forward Tavon Nelson and came away impressing all in attendance with his 20-point, nine-rebound performance.
For the season, Rob Kurz averaged 19 points and 11 boards. He is currently working with a personal trainer to add some muscle to his long frame. He was successful last year, adding 15 pounds in the off-season, and his current efforts sinc