His commitment came so long ago that perhaps you had forgotten about him. Indeed Peter Prowitt gave his verbal commitment to Stanford last March as a high school junior, before the 2003 senior class had entered their spring signing period. The 6'10" Virginia center in fact took his first unofficial trip to Stanford some 13 months ago, making it a long journey he has traveled before today's official Letter of Intent signing for the Cardinal.
"I've known about this obviously for a long time - since March," Prowitt says. "But seeing it in print was special. Just to be a part of the Stanford academic and athletic communities - both are so prestigious. I'm also really excited to be a part of the Stanford team. I couldn't be more proud to now officially be able to associate myself with the really outstanding men who play at Stanford, as well as the unmatched coaching staff."
Not only will this Potomac School senior be a key element of Stanford's basketball future, but he also goes down in history as a landmark Stanford recruiting precedent. Prowitt was in such strong academic shape, and was at such a mature stage in his desire to be a Cardinal, that he was given an admissions application after just his fifth academic semester of high school. Typically recruits are only allowed to apply after they finish their junior year, but Prowitt applied and was admitted in March of his junior year. That allowed him to become the earliest commitment in the Mike Montgomery era of Stanford Basketball. His size, body and style of play had the Cardinal excited to accept that commitment at such an unprecedented date.
"He's from the mold of past Stanford centers who have meant so much to the success of Stanford Basketball," charges Cardinal assistant coach and noted big man (1984-89) Eric Reveno. "Jason Collins, Mark Madsen and Tim Young - he has a little bit of everybody in him. He's a big, strong kid who likes to set screens and play hard-nosed basketball. Prowitt also has the skills to operate in the high post. I think he has the makings of a good low post game, too."
When you first take a look at Peter Prowitt, the first thing that jumps out at you is the solid body he brings to the table at this age. Most players his size in high school are wiry at best, but Prowitt tipped the scales at 250 pounds last year. That helped him to dominate in his junior season at Potomac to the tune of 23.1 points, 10.1 boards and 3.3 blocks per game. The ceiling may be much higher this year, though, now that the senior has radically changed his body.
Prowitt is the first to admit that his 250-pound body was not a lean one, measured at 20% body fat midway through his junior year. After coming to Stanford several times this past year and seeing the work that strength and conditioning coach John Murray has done with the current Cardinal players, the Stanford commit made a conscious decision to start "the program" a year early. He brought back Murray's workout, and with his high school coach constructed a plan to change his body.
"It's pretty intense," the Virginia center admits. "We do a lot of work on my trunk, developing core strength and my legs. Those are really new to me. The upper body comes naturally through all the lifting. It aims to get me leaner, and improve my quickness and explosiveness."
During the summer Prowitt dropped a lot of that baby fat and found his weight at one point at a paltry 228 pounds. But with the flab gone, he is now packing on lean muscle and weighs 243 pounds. His body fat is just a hair over 10% today. The changes are alarming for the athlete.
"I feel like I'm a completely different player athletically," he exclaims. "I'm just so much lighter on my feet now, so much more explosive. My lateral quickness has improved too. It's not all just bodybuilding stuff, though. I've worked on my outside shooting and my ballhandling. I'm making big strides there - I'm more comfortable with the ball in my hands. I'm trying to become as versatile as I can. Ideally I would like to have a Rob Little body and get to 260 pounds. I would love to arrive at Stanford next fall at 250 to 255, though. I want to be an inside-outside threat, but focus on my inside game."
Just as he has reworked his body, Prowitt has retooled his shot and feels he can be a much more effective scorer against taller and more talented defenders. "I have shortened my set point, which adds a lot of speed to my shot," he explains. "I have a straight follow-through, and need to keep my hands in front of my face instead of ending up back behind my head. If there is anybody we have patterned my shot after, it's Karl Malone. My coach and I see his shot and try to emulate it."
While Prowitt had many mechanical and physical changes to effect during the summer, there was a bigger picture realization that struck him about his basketball status. "The biggest thing I took away from the summer was realizing the level of competition I'll face in college," he admits. "I had to reevaluate my work ethic and motivation. The players I saw and played against were a new level of player. I have more motivation now than at the beginning of my junior year. To be honest, I got a little cocky with how I handled the people I faced in high school."
Though he might be hard on himself, the Stanford center signee has fans already in his coaches and future 2004 incoming freshman teammate. New York power forward Taj Finger also signed for the Cardinal today and happened to take an official visit to Stanford the same September weekend earlier this fall. The two played together in some pickup games with the current Stanford players, and Finger was favorably impressed.
"Peter is a smart player," Finger begins. "He's also a banger who likes to work hard. He has a baby hook and short jumper that looked nice. We hit it off really well and hung out together all the time during that weekend."
Reveno elaborates on what there is to like about Prowitt as a future Stanford big man. "It's his combination of size, speed and skills that you like," the Cardinal coach opines. "Most big guys his size can do some good things, but they are just so slow moving around. But Prowitt can really get up and down the floor. He's a lot like Rob [Little] has been lately for us. Put that together with the things we think he can do and it makes us very optimistic of his future at this level."
TheInsidersHoops national basketball recruiting expert Dave Telep has seen Stanford's success through the years with big men and also likes the fit. "He'll be one of those solid four-year guys," the guru says of Prowitt. "He's a presence inside who has improved gradually each season. He's a bright kid who totally fits the Stanford mold, and he'll gradually earn his time on The Farm."
The decision to commit and eventually sign with Stanford was an easy one for Prowitt, for the usual combination of academic and basketball platforms. But there were people at Stanford that made the biggest impact on the recruit when he took his visits. "I really felt a great fit with all the guys I met," he allows. "And I got a great impression of Coach Montgomery when he visited my school. He talked with my coaches and my teachers, but he was really realistic of what I did. He knew when to praise me but also tell me when I sucked. Other coaches didn't exactly kiss up, but they were not as honest as Coach Montgomery. That no-nonsense attitude is very genuine and made a big impact on me."
As for the attitude that Prowitt hopes to bring to Stanford Basketball: "I hope I can have an attitude that parallels MadDog," the signee says fondly of 2000 Stanford graduate and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen.
Recruiting is now in the rear-view mirror, though, and Prowitt is very focused on his senior season at the Potomac School, where he and his teammates are looking to defend their Virginia Independent Schools state title. Their first practice of the year was held Tuesday, and their first regular season game will be December 4.
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