Bernard is a very talented 6'9" 225 pound forward from Montreal, Quebec who has emerged from this summer as a hot target of nationally elite basketball programs, despite flying somewhat below the radar of hoops recruiting gurus at the "big" summer camps. He doesn't appear on many top 100 lists, though his very earnest recruitment by the likes of Stanford, Kentucky and Kansas speaks volumes about his projected value in the Class of 2002. Why such an interest? In addition to a big and strong frame that moves well in the low post, he has been targeted as one of the very top perimeter post players in America. Though I have not had the good fortune to see him play yet (his Grass Roots Canada AAU team did not follow through with plans for the Adidas Big Time in Las Vegas), he has a truly exceptional stroke that forebodes an exceptional high post potential. Oh, and scoring 26 points per game and hitting three treys per game at the Kentucky HoopFest this summer didn't hurt.
To cut to the chase, he has a relatively narrow group of schools in front of him right now. The two constant top-of-mind candidates are Stanford and Kansas, though Notre Dame was the first high major program to seriously recruit him. Thus, he has scheduled those three schools for official visits in the coming month (note that these dates, straight from BC, are different from those seen on several other recruiting sites):
September 8 -- Stanford
September 15 -- Kansas
September 22 -- Notre Dame
However, Notre Dame seems to have gone slack in their recruiting efforts since they got that September 22nd visit scheduled with Bernard. Maybe they are taking his reciprocal interest for granted, or maybe they are satisfied with Ricky Cornett as their post player in this class. This has not gone unnoticed, and that has the Fighting Irish slipping a little bit with the big man. Slipping to the point that the visit could be considered somewhat tenuous. And this is a very recent development - mostly in just the last two weeks. The player who has stepped up in prominence as Notre Dame's star has fallen is Kentucky. Though they are a little late to the game, they are recruiting him with increasing intensity, and might get an official visit from Bernard.
Additionally, a wider cast of players have in-home visits scheduled with Cote:
September 10 -- Kentucky
September 13 -- Stanford
September 17 -- Notre Dame
September 19 -- Illinois
September 25 -- Kansas
Others like Ohio State and Minnesota might get in-home visits, as well. But unless somebody really impacts Bernard in the very near future, it looks like Stanford, Kansas, Kentucky and Notre Dame are the real candidates.
Stanford: Speaks very highly of the staff, and has enjoyed the phone conversations as well as face-to-face interactions with Monty, Fuller and Rev. He recognizes the extraordinary value of a Stanford education and degree, and feels the location is on a level with which Lawrence can't compare.
Kansas: Also loves the staff, and may be the strongest pull right now. Cote is blown away by Phog Allen sell-outs at 16k per game, and appreciates the hoops history of the Jayhawks.
Notre Dame: They were the first high major to serious recruit him, and that has stuck for a long time. They also are selling him on the idea of making him into the next Troy Murphy.
Kentucky: I don't have much of a handle yet on what particularly has Bernard looking more at Kentucky, other than the intensifying attention.
Stanford has seen Bernard play at the Nike camp (Monty), and at the Kentucky HoopsFest (Rev). Both Fuller and Rev have made trips up to Montreal to see Bernard, as well.
Of course, the all-important element of a recruiting saga in the Stanford world is the admissions application. We can debate Stanford versus Kansas and Kentucky until we're red in the face, and fall in love with the kid... but none of that matters until he gets the life-changing thumbs up from Old Union. So here's the skinny on his application. 1220 SAT (620 verbal, 600 math - a very promising split). 3.6 GPA at "a very good institution." He went through several drafts of his essays, and feels his teacher recs are very strong. The only concern are some disappointing grades in 10th and 11th year classes, but that might be mitigated by some extenuating circumstances. All in all, this sounds like a promising application.
The app was sent to Stanford last week, and was just received this Monday evening. One final recommendation is pending from a teacher, and will be faxed to Old Union Thursday afternoon. Bernard expects about a week from then before he'll hear back the admissions outcome. He is anxious, but optimistic.
School has just started for Cote this past Monday, and hoops season is right around the corner. He aims to get his weight up to 235#, intending to "just keep lifting and eating." Bernard has transferred from Champlain Saint-Lambert College to Jean-de-Brebeuf College.
In total, I think the biggest hurdle for a Cote-Stanford match is found in Old Union. If he can get accepted by admissions, and Stanford follows with an offer (very likely), I think the September 8 visit could go a long way to closing the deal. As always in the recruiting world, we will wait and watch...
ps: Bernard Cote is an avid Bootleg reader, and enjoys reading the HoopsBoard daily for the latest developments, outlook and opinion on Stanford basketball. He particularly commented to me that he greatly enjoyed the big man myths article, which "cleared some things up."