High Major PF Emerges in Vegas

When Stanford basketball fans think of San Antonio, they reflect upon the magical 1998 Final Four run and legendary overtime battle with Kentucky. Well, more good vibes may come from the home of the Alamo as Stanford looks for a skilled power forward in this 2004 recruiting class. Meet 6'9" Trent Plaisted, who I am naming the best Stanford recruit I saw all week at the Big Time in Las Vegas.

Stanford Basketball has recruited several high profile blue chip rising seniors from Texas for this 2004 class, and many more in other years. But when you think of the recruiting hotbeds in the Lone Star state, your thoughts will drift to the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Indeed, those areas are home to a pair of elite senior point guards the Cardinal coaches took a crack at this year: Jason Horton and Daniel Gibson. It may then surprise you that this week in Las Vegas, the Texas recruit who drew the most attention from Mike Montgomery was a power forward from San Antonio.

Clarke High School's Trent Plaisted stands a solid 6'9" and 215 pounds and has an array of impressive athletic capabilities that left me very impressed after watching him this week. This is unquestionably a high major recruit. His smooth operation around the basket lets him score from a variety of spots inside 12 feet, and he can step out to shoot to 18 feet. Plaisted runs the floor very easily, and can finish in transition. He's a good passer with soft hands, and he's a nice shot blocker. This week at the Big Time he played with the San Antonio Rohawks, though he normally plays with the San Antonio Bulls.

"Last year we came to Vegas and I really liked it a lot," he explains. "I wanted to come back, even though joining the Rohawks meant I wouldn't play as much as with the Bulls. But the guys and I got used to each other, and it was pretty natural on the floor by the end of the tournament."

Daryl Richardson's Rohawks were already a stacked team with 15 talented players, and he wasn't actively looking to add a 16th to his roster. "We have had a lot of success this year, and have great chemistry, so Trent wasn't going to come in here and take over," Richardson opines. "And there were a lot of Texas teams he could have joined for this event, but he chose to be the 16th player on the Rohawks so that he could be with guys he knew and have a good time. Trent has good feet on perimeter defense of guards, which is why we put him at the top of our 1-2-2. You would expect a big guy like him to have the footwork to defend inside, but I think he's spent so much time on the perimeter that he doesn't have the confidence to defend inside yet. That will come, though."

Plaisted's limited minutes in games this week with the Rowawks made him a risky player to watch. Witness what happened to Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery, who made a trip to see one such game and caught all of two minutes of the big lefty on the floor. But Plaisted found a few games with more minutes, and he produced in a big way. He showed that he can score at will when he catches the ball with his back to the basket, utilizing his quickness and athleticism to beat defenders and get good looks at the hoop. In his final game, he scored an easy 15 points though playing the minutes of a 6th or 7th man in the rotation.

"You wouldn't know if from watching my games here," Plaisted comments. "But I'm really most comfortable facing the basket at 15 to 18 feet. See, actually, I was the 3rd option on my high school team last year because our coach puts emphasis on seniors. There were two seniors ahead of me, and one of them was a big 6'10" guy. I would basically play and score wherever he wasn't, and he played mostly inside. I still managed 14 points and 8 boards a game. The Rohawks got me the ball inside, which is so different from what I did this last year in high school. I'm trying to work this summer on using my right hand, and my free throws used to be great but they were awful here. I guess I better get back on those," he laughs.

Though minutes were spotty at the tournament, that didn't stop a host of college coaches from watching his games. In addition to several Stanford coaches, he had Kansas, Georgia, BYU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and others in the stands. An even stronger testament to Plaisted's talent can be found with his offer list. Already he has scholarships promised to him from BYU, Utah, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Washington State and Florida State. The San Antonio senior says that he is also strongly considering Stanford and Kansas, though they have yet to offer.

"With Stanford, I have to apply to get in before they can offer," he explains. "In fact, I just turned in my application before coming to the Big Time. I've scored an 1180 on the SAT and a 25 on the ACT. We have numerical averages at our school - not GPAs - and I have a 90% average. They can't offer yet, but I really really hope they do."

A national offer and interest list like Plaisted's will make for some tough decisions this fall, and he has yet to take any of his official visits. He has, however, been to camps this summer at Texas, BYU and Utah. All three were basketball educations for him, but the latter two were also unofficial trips for him to check out a pair of his top schools. One visit went badly, though.

"You know, I expect to get ripped a little when I'm in college, but Rick Majerus was just laying into me as soon as I got there," Plaisted laments. "He said that I had the brain the size of a peanut. I hated it. Utah has been off my list ever since."

Perhaps BYU proved a more enticing trip, given that the young Mormon has a natural religious fit with the institution? "It was better than Utah, but BYU isn't in a prime time conference like the Pac-10 or SEC," he answers. "I want to be someplace big time, and I also want to have a chance to play early. I don't have to start right away, but I want to contribute. Washington State and Vanderbilt have been very vocal in saying that I'll play as a freshmen, though most of the schools say that to some extent."

He goes on to name his top five list of schools as Kansas, Stanford, Washington State, BYU and Vanderbilt. "I'm open right now and I'll take all five of my official visits. Two I'll most likely take will be to Stanford and Washington State," he allows. A top list with priority officials to see Palo Alto and Pullman might be reasonable for a West Coast kid, but it's a puzzling picture for a San Antonio high schooler. Plaisted explains the affinity. "We lived a little while in Monteca (CA), which is near Modesto. My mom really wants me to go out West, and my parents say they might move out there if that's where I go to school."

Kansas is another high interest for the 6'9" lefty, and he's hoping they step up with an offer. "They say they are very, very interested and may come up with an offer if I continue playing the way they saw me in Denton," he notes. That performance in a Great American Shootout event north of Dallas earlier this summer was a 39-point explosion that sent shockwaves through the heavily attended event. Stanford was also in attendance, and that tremendously raised their own interest in the athletic power forward.

For an LDS kid to have talent like this, and a rapidly rising recruiting profile, you have to think that BYU would be the team to beat. But Plaisted says that isn't the case, and he isn't even sure about taking his Mormon mission. "I'm kinda young for my grade - only 16 right now," he explains. "I would be too young to take my mission right out of high school, so I wouldn't go until after my freshman year. But honestly, I might not go if I'm playing well in school."

Up next for the San Antonio star is the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Florida with his regular club - the Bulls. With what I saw of Plaisted in Vegas, you can count on his grabbing more headlines and attention in Florida. Watch for news and notes on the power forward in the next few days, and possibly a growing offer list.

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