Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins and his staff secured their first 2014 commitment when four-star point guard Robert Cartwright, Scout.com's 50th ranked prospect, pledged his allegiance to the Cardinal. Bringing the 6-foot-3 La Cañada (CA) Flintridge Prep product on board certainly stands as a huge coup for Stanford, as it held off a late summer charge by a host of Pac-12 programs as well as Big East power Pittsburgh to ultimately earn the services its primary backcourt recruiting target for the 2014 class.
More importantly, Cartwright fills a true position of need for the Cardinal, owning the mindset and skill to potentially develop into the complete package as a college lead guard. A fearless competitor with great intangibles, Cartwright is a true point guard that consistently looks to get others involved, while also having demonstrated the ability to score the basketball with relative ease up to this point in his career. Moreover, he possesses good lateral quickness and a 6-foot-3, 165 pounds frame that could very well lend itself to adding more muscle without losing too much quickness, two attributes that could see him mature into an elite defender down the road.
Cartwright, who said that he has plans to officially visit The Farm the weekend of September 21, recently spoke in-depth with The Bootleg about his commitment, his plans for the fall, and his newfound role as a recruiter.
On the play-by-play of his commitment phone call…
Yesterday [September 4], Coach Schrage [Cartwright's lead recruiter] called me and said, ‘I got the word from admissions, and they gave me the okay,' and so he offered me right there. Obviously, I was really excited, gave a little fist pump, and then told him that I obviously want to come to Stanford and look forward to the opportunity. I also had a nice conversation with Coach Dawkins and Coach Payne. And, you know, it's just a great feeling. I was able to celebrate with my parents; I got a lot of great feedback from friends. It was just a really great night.
On deciding to commit now as opposed to waiting any longer…
One thing I've learned about the recruitment process is if you have a school that you really like and really want to go to, why wait when you have the opportunity? And I found a place that I really like with people I really like in the coaches and it's somewhere that I would love playing at. It's just a great feeling knowing now that I'm going to attend Stanford because now I can just focus, put my head down, and get to work.
On the most important factors that led to picking Stanford…
Relationships were one thing that I always prioritized. Family is also something that I really cherish, and it really felt like a family atmosphere at Stanford. I really felt that I could be successful on and off the court there. It's also an amazing academic school, obviously. And just the opportunity to go there and be in the Pac-12, playing against some of the best competition in the country is really exciting for me. I love to play against the best, and I feel that with all the hard work I plan to put in and am putting in now, I'll be well prepared and ready to go for the challenge.
At the end of the day, I just felt really wanted there. Stanford recruited me, and made me their top option at point guard, and because of that I really fell in love with the coaches and the school.
On his level of familiarity with the Stanford team…
I've actually never been to a Stanford game. I've seen them play live on TV, but that was before they were heavily involved in my recruitment at all. I plan to be up there quite a few times to watch games. And when they come down here [to LA], I'll definitely get out and go watch them. I'll be up at campus quite a few times, so I can really start to develop a relationship with some of the guys that I'll be playing with, and so I'll also be able to get a better feel of Coach Dawkins' style and of what he'll expect of me when I get up there. I want to be prepared day one to be able to do whatever it is I need to help the team win. I don't want there to be a lengthy transition process.
On his goals for his first year at Stanford…
I'm not really focused on whether I should start at some point or anything. My goal is just to come in and make an impact right away. I want to be physically and mentally ready. I have a lot of time to get better, and I plan to. Once I get up there next year, it doesn't matter what Coach Dawkins does. Whatever he does, I'll be fine with. But I do hope to be a contributor right away, and I'm going to work at it starting now.
More than anything, I just want to come up there and be the best player I can be. And I'm trying to maximize every bit of a talent that I have. Hopefully, I'll do some good things at Stanford. And I'll make sure that everybody is always 100% committed, because that's what I do, I'm a leader.
On being the first commitment in the class and his potentially new role as a recruiter…
Just the fact that I was able to commit now is a great thing for the staff. Now they can focus on getting some other guys and hopefully use me to help get some other guys if that's possible. You know, a point guard is supposed to lead. I recently had someone to tell me that I could already start getting some assists by getting some of these guys in school also. I want to have the best experience athletically at Stanford as possible, so I definitely want great players to play with me—or me play with them, however you want to look at it.
I just want to develop great chemistry with these guys and hopefully contend for the Pac-12 title. I really think we could do it, so that's my goal.
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 email@example.com.
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