After an impressive spring and summer on the AAU circuit playing for Los Angeles Rockfish, 6-foot-3 Robert Cartwright has emerged as one of the top point guard prospects on the West Coast in 2014. A consummate floor general, the senior-to-be at La Cañada's Flintridge Prep boasts the complete package for a lead guard.
"He's an extreme competitor with elite intangibles with his drive to be successful and approach to every game he plays in. He's a pretty good shooter off the dribble from both midrange and three and is an unselfish player with strong vision and creating ability," says Scout.com's West Coast Recruiting Analyst Josh Gershon.
Combine that with what Gershon describes as "terrific" lateral movement and hence "elite" defensive ability, and it's no wonder why both scouts and college coaching staffs alike have taken notice.
In the few weeks that comprise the spring and summer evaluation periods, Cartwright has risen to no. 72 in the Scout.com Top 100 rankings and his offer list has nearly tripled from the eight he held in mid-April. Stanford is among the latest to join the ranks of Pac-12 programs that have offered Cartwright. Colorado, Utah, Oregon State, and regular Mountain West title contender San Diego State have also reachedout.
To that end, coach Johnny Dawkins and his staff have made Cartwright a priority as they aim to secure their first commitment in the 2014 class, regularly attending the point guard's games this past July and maintaining close contact with thim.
Recently, The Bootleg had the opportunity to catch up with Cartwright to discuss his recruiting process, the relationship he has developed with Stanford, and the prospects of playing with an AAU teammate at the next level. Here's the interview:
The Bootleg: One thing that you're regularly praised for is your intensity on the defensive end. Can you talk about the role defense plays in your game?
In AAU basketball, defense isn't stressed as much as it should be, considering it's the most important part of the game. But it's definitely important to me. I realize that if you can lock up an opposing point guard or slow him down, it's something that can really help your team. It's something that college coaches really look for, and it's something I think I do pretty well.
TB: What's that recruiting process been like for you, having gone from a relative unknown to really exploding this spring and summer?
I've had a lot of schools come in and offer [more than 20], and it's been great. It's helped me work harder, and it's helped me try to become a better basketball player. It's a humbling experience. I cannot be happier with it. And I realize even though you feel good that you have a lot of schools coming to your recruitment, it doesn't mean anything because once you sign your letter of intent, it just means that you're going to have to work that much harder to help whatever team you're going to win. So once I get to a school, I'm going to do the best I can to be a great leader and to hold everyone to a higher standard, especially myself.
TB: What schools have been on you the hardest? Is there a list of a short few?
There are a couple of schools, but in terms of Stanford, Stanford has been on me just as hard if not harder than any other school. And I really like Stanford a lot.
TB: What was it like getting a Stanford offer?
They semi-offered in the spring, but obviously their recruiting is a little different—they have to wait for your SAT or ACT to come in. They officially sent me an application, so I have an offer from them. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff, and I really like everything that goes on there obviously.
TB: Have you been up for a visit?
I did. I went up for an unofficial before the spring viewing period. I enjoyed the campus; I toured it for over five and a half hours. It was a really great trip.
TB: When you talk about Stanford, obviously academics are a big part of the school's appeal. What role will academics play in your decision making process?
They will be a big factor. It's very important to me and my family to find the right academic and athletic fit. Stanford, in a way, is the best of both worlds. It's one of, if not the best university in the country, and it's also in the Pac-12. There are a lot of great things about it that I really like. Like I said, all of the people that I've met there and the coaches are all awesome. I very much like Stanford.
TB: Is there one coach in particular that's been handling your recruitment? And can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Coach Dawkins?
I actually just talked to [Dawkins] this morning. I talk to him all the time—a couple times a week. Coach Schrage is the one that's in charge of my recruitment, in terms of assistants. I've also talked to Coach Payne and Coach O'Toole, so I have a great relationship with all of them.
TB: Are there any other schools involved in your recruitment that you're particularly focused on at this stage?
There are other schools that I like and that are involved in my recruitment, but I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going to end up. I know I'm not very revealing, but that's just kind of the way I am in this whole recruitment process.
TB: Do you plan on taking an official visit up to Stanford? And do you have a timetable for any other visits you might take?
Yes, at some point I'll definitely take an official to Stanford. But I haven't settled on all of my official visits yet.
TB: Do you have a timetable for your decision?
I don't have a timetable, but it's not going to take a long time. It won't be that long before I make a decision.
TB: You do play on the same AAU team as 7 foot center Thomas Welsh, who has also been garnering some interest from Stanford. How's it been playing with him? Have you guys at all discussed playing in college together?
Yeah, I'm discussing with him every day that we're together. I definitely want to [play with him in college]. He's very close to the vest; I have no read on him on what he wants to do. But we would like to play together I think—I would definitely want to play with him. Hopefully, that'll help influence his decision a little bit, and I do know that the Stanford coaches are full on him.
TB: Do you have any personal goals for your high school season this year?
I would love to win a CIF [southern section] championship. It'll be the hardest year [of the four] to do it, but I'm definitely going to give it my best.
Andrew Santana graduated from Stanford University in 2013. He worked as the play-by-play man for the Stanford men's basketball team on KZSU. You can follow him on Twitter @asantan1 or reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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