Dan Grunfeld (6'5" 190#), the wing/forward from Fox Point, Wisconsin, gave his verbal commitment to Stanford this week, fulfilling his dream and adding a talented perimeter player as Stanford's first commitment of the 2002 class.
Dan got the opportunity to take his official visit on September 8th, and was pleased in every way with what he experienced, saw and heard. "The official visit was big for me. And everything I found out was great."
He hung out with and played a little ball with Joe, Justin, Matt, Kyle... and even Chris Hernandez. "I liked them a lot - they're great, normal guys. A lot like me." Dan had a busy itinerary that kept him constantly on the move, including meetings with academic advisors. His interactions with the staff left great impressions on him, and he was able to verify the fit he would have at the Farm. "I wanted to make sure the staff had the same vision that I did for the future."
Dan was also impressed with overall student body you can find at Stanford. "At most places, you walk into the room and you're a star because you're a basketball player. Everyone at Stanford is a star. People at Stanford are so special, so unique."
Sounds like a slam dunk decision, right:? Well, just a couple of days after returning to Wisconsin, while still digesting his experience from the visit, the world was turned upside down by the terrorist attacks on September 11. Dan was and still is very shaken by it all, a little more than maybe some in Wisconsin since he grew up in New Jersey. "I didn't even think about basketball when that happened. I still haven't hardly played any basketball since."
But as time passed, his assuredness about Stanford and his offer put him in a position where he felt ready this past Sunday to give his verbal commitment to the Stanford coaches. "I know they are looking at other guys, and would have to make decisions on them if I didn't accept, so it was time." Out of respect for the staff and the other recruits they are involved with currently, Dan decided to wait until today to have a press conference at his school to publicly announce his Stanford decision.
In the end, the decision came down to the Cardinal and hometown Wisconsin. When asked if he was concerned about the disappointment locally that would come of the decision, Dan deftly replied, "I didn't even think about it that way. I could just as easily have been concerned about making Californians unhappy." It wasn't easy to say no to the Badgers, though, as Dan had good experiences in interacting with the staff in Madison. "I love the Wisconsin coaching staff."
Looking forward, Dan now has a future of four years of elite level Stanford basketball ahead of him. Before he gets there, there is some unfinished business in Wisconsin, though. "We want to get to state this year. There's a team that beats us every year, and we've got to beat them this year." When asked about where he hopes to improve in the 12 months he has before descending upon the Farm, Dan gave an unsurprising answer. "I know all areas of my game can be better. I can elevate all aspects of my game, and I will."
The question for Stanford fans is just what game will Dan bring to Stanford, and how will he fit in? He says there are a lot of similarities with his game and Casey Jacobsen's. "I'm not going to score in high school what Casey did - he was just an incredibly prolific scorer. But what makes him so good is that he really goes after it. He just goes right at the cup. I want to do more of that."
Dan certainly brings a balanced set of skills that a coach loves, with a particular strength on the perimeter. When I saw him in Vegas at the Adidas Big Time, he smoked opponent after opponent from all areas on the floor. In his first game of the tournament, he threw in 45 points - high among all players. But he believes that's just Dan Grunfeld's game. "I got on the court expecting to do that. I played how I was capable of playing, and that's why I was happy."
There are so many reasons to be excited about Dan's decision for Stanford. What he'll bring on the court is an important part of the picture, but the outstanding character and personable demeanor he brings off the court is equally valuable. From my interactions with him, I can't say enough about how enjoyable this young man is. He truly is a perfect fit with Stanford, and it was no surprise that he clicked with both the players and staff on his visit. This was meant to be...
Dan's parting message for Cardinalmaniacs™: "Get excited for the future because I sure am!"