The buzz in Stanford circles about Arizona forward Lawrence Hill stretches back to the winter, when he was putting up double-double averages in scoring and rebounding in cactus country while holding a 4.0 and 1230 SAT. His public quotes published here about his excitement toward Cardinal hoops gave fans a rush of adrenaline. Rare is the slam dunk academic profile to go with a premier athletic talent like Hill, and dreams quickly formulated of a spring admissions application, acceptance, visit and commitment.
While spring brings excitement to many parts of our lives, I am here to bring a dose of disappointment to Cardinalmaniacs™. According to Lawrence and father Larry Hill, this journey has sight set on an autumnal conclusion rather than a spring sprint.
"My dad set up an official visit with Stanford on September 24. I didn't even know about it at the time," comments the younger Hill. "The coaches said if I want to visit early, I would need to submit my application so they could hurry a decision so I could visit. I don't plan on committing until the fall. I want more time to think about it. I'm not a kid who jumps into things."
The elder Hill points toward the overextension of travel, basketball and school that has been on top of his son lately as a reason to not push for an official visit to Palo Alto or anywhere else this month. His son finished a manic month of April that had travel to Las Vegas and then to Houston, and now the local leagues are about to kick in that will run through the summer. In just a couple weeks it will be time for Hill to hit the road again for a non-stop June and July.
The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions will kick off the summer in North Carolina during Memorial Day Weekend. Then the 6'8" forward will take part in the Pangos All-American Camp in Cypress (Calif.), followed by the NBA Players Camp in Richmond (Va.). Back home in the Grand Canyon State, Hill will play with his high school teammates at the Arizona State team camp, which typically will put a good team through eight games in two days. Back on the road, Hill will to Teaneck (N.J.) for the Reebok ABCD Camp, then zip back to the West Coast for the Pangos Summer Shootout in Cypress. July will close out with the Reebok Big Time in Las Vegas (Nev.).
"Lawrence has a little breather here and I think he needs to be able to take that time," says Larry Hill of the spring and summer madness. "He needs some time to recuperate and take care of school."
The elder Hill also reports that they are working on obtaining one more recommendation for the Stanford admissions application, and then Lawrence has to write his personal essays.
"I'll just be myself," says the free-spirited Deer Valley High School junior of his portion of the application. "I'll be done with it before school is over."
That application was a point of discussion when head coach Mike Montgomery and assistant coach Tony Fuller made their one on-campus visit with the Hills a month ago in early April. The Stanford coaches were certain to articulate their strong feelings toward Hill, and they dangled the carrot of what can happen once he completes that application.
"Stanford basically said they will offer me once I apply and am accepted - 'make it official'," the recruit recalls. "They said as soon as I'm accepted, we can 'consider it a done deal'."
That crucial face-to-face visit was filled with more than just Admissions talk, though.
"I told them right off the bat that I didn't want to spend a lot of time talking about the school," Hill continues. "I can see all those things for myself on my visit, so why dive into that now? I had questions about classes and how kids handle their schedules with basketball games. How do kids like it there? They gave me great answers to all my questions, and told me more about past players in the program. It wasn't really a conversation about information so much as getting to know each other. It was a great talk for about two hours. It was nice to have an opportunity to actually talk with them. I learned a lot. They're really friendly, and I'm a guy they really want."
Stanford's on-campus visit was the biggest one for Lawrence Hill during the April contact period. UCLA was supposed to come on the 30th, but they cancelled late. Arizona State asked the Hills to come to their offices in Tempe, which took place on the 10th. The only other on-campus visitors were Utah and UC-Santa Barbara.
"I talked with an Arizona reporter recently and he asked me if I thought I wasn't being recruited much by other schools because they all think I'm going to go to Stanford," the talented combo forward relates with a laugh that conceals some concern. "I guess I have to go to Stanford if they are the only one recruiting me."
Recruiting is not the only thing going on with Hill, however. He is in full swing with AAU basketball, which has seen him make some strides. One advantage for him this year with the Arizona Magic is that he does not have to take a roll exclusively in the low post. 6'10" fellow junior James Anderson, who hails from Page High School ("home of Matt Haryasz"), gives big presence in the middle that was not there last year. Hill can now step out and play a little more on the wing, including shooting three-pointers. He still logs plenty of time in the low post, nevertheless.
"I played better than I thought I would," he comments on his play in a Las Vegas tournament in mid-April. "I thought I would score, rebound and block shots, but I did more. There were just a lot of little things, like when I took four charges in one game. I also had a lot of dunks."
"I think he dunked more in Houston than at any time during his high school season," says Larry Hill of his son's play the following weekend at the Kingwood Classic. "There are some things that work differently for Lawrence with the Magic, and it lets him be more aggressive."
If no visits crop up this month, there appears to be little recruiting news on the horizon for this grand Glendale (Ariz.) talent, excepting for his Stanford admissions application. But look for him to be a focal figure in camps and tournaments from Memorial Day weekend through the end of July.
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